Fishnets, fire, aerial and acrobatics are all wrapped up in this glamorously entertaining murder mystery presented by Adelaide’s cabaret group Cirque Nocturne.
Dressed in uniforms of black and sequins, the talented troupe glide with purpose, each performer commanding the stage. Blue light bounces off sequinned bodies in shimmering haloes. Cirque Nocturne strikes the balance between circus act and storyline, highlighting each performer’s technical skill without detracting from the narrative.
Kurt van Ryswyk as cynical private investigator Digby Terminus narrates the story, guiding the audience through his search for the killer, where each suspect performs their own individual circus act. His delivery is imperfect; his inconsistent American film noir accent slips into his own Australian accent, and he’s noticeably out of breath at times. The intimacy of the Spiegeltent draws unavoidable attention to this. Fortunately, the performers’ skill and the quality of the individual acts outshine these minor flaws. In addition, Ryswyk’s occasional stutter arguably humanises the smooth cynical detective, endearing him to the audience.
Director and performer Kate Lawrence shines in each of her acts. She skilfully performs in character, showing off her technical skill with precision and expertise.
Natalie Tran dazzles as detective Digby’s seductress love interest, Satine. Winding, spinning and unfolding, her aerial silk performance is the culmination of the narrative. As she drops dramatically, she poises mid-air, the splayed reams of red silk reminiscent of pools of blood, appropriately just before the surprise twist.
With the occasional wink and smirk from the performers, I’d half expected some level of spontaneous audience interaction. Lawrence has demonstrated that she’s more than capable of exploring creative boundaries. I’d love to see Cirque Nocturne push some boundaries and use the murder mystery narrative to explore a more interactive style of performance.