The Bally at Gluttony
Rymill Park/Murlawirrapurka, Cnr East Tce & Rundle Rd, Adelaide, 5000, SA

Inside The Bally we are taken away from the chaos of the East End. Sounds of the weird and wonderful across Gluttony, The Garden and the Fringe Club seem distant once performers Hugh Bladel, Maggie Fayne and Lachlan Rickus take us into their quirky world that playfully explores the tragedies and annoyances we experience that can only be responded to with “FML”.

Each of these circus performers boldly shares dark parts of their past amidst abstract physical representation and circus tricks that appear to represent their experiences and their inner life through these times. Despite the quirkiness and comedy that frames these often brief moments of pain and carries the show forward, skilful performances allow the darker moments to pack a punch and provoke audiences to think about how we might respond to disability and mental illness. While the tragic stories of Fayne and Rickus may only be verbally communicated in a couple of brief statements, the performers chillingly envelope audiences in their world through the clear reliving of experiences that plays out in their eyes, all the while surrounded by or part of acrobatic or juggling acts that holds many viewers in a state of awe.

Fayne’s writing is poignant and provocative. Audiences that many have expected an hour of lightly entertaining circus tricks on a night out at the Fringe are asked to think and feel deeply as the performers share the darkest crevices of their worlds. However, this is done in a way that respects the predispositions of their likely audience, and still makes for a night of belly laughs and a shared sense of dusting oneself off and keeping on keeping on. The obstacles faced by Fayne and Rickus would be enough to keep many away from continuing to pursue a career in circus performance; their stories of resilience and persistence leave the average uni student feeling quite guilty for believing Stranger Things’ Netflix accessibility was enough of an unfair obstacle to stop them from handing in their last assignment on time.

Bladel’s charisma, comic timing and talent for improvisation carries audiences through the darker moments and upholds a playful tone throughout most of the piece. Plenty of laughs and light-hearted entertainment pepper a through line that deals with suicide and paraplegia; self-deprecating and ironic humour positions audiences to look for silver linings and inspiration from tragic experiences. At some times the merriment is abruptly slain by mention of tragedy, at other times it is used to pick audiences up off the ground and reignite spirits. In both circumstances we are grateful for the way Bladel mocks life’s “FML” moments and reminds us to keep laughing through it all.

If you’re heading out to town to walk around the East End and ‘go to the Fringe’ with someone who isn’t too interested in the performing arts, whose idea of ‘going to the Fringe’ is watching light entertainment somewhere around East Terrace with an overpriced craft beer in their hand before getting you take an Instagram of them under pretty lights, I recommend you steer them in to see these guys. Entertaining for those kinds of Fringe goers, but with a depth that can be appreciated by a theatre enthusiast.

Reviewed by Chelsea Griffith.

Show length 55mins.