Amidst the wrenching drama and nonlinear narratives of the Fringe theatre program, sometimes you just need the mental equivalent of beer o’clock. Knock Off by Three High Acrobats is a circus show that provides some welcome comic relief.
Parodying home renovation tv shows – although not so much “The Block” as claimed in the Fringe guide – interior decorator Chris, renovator Sam and Japanese zen gardener Taka give traditional circus performance an appealing lick of paint. Their show guides the audience through a series of steps so that you can build your own circus show at home. Working as individuals and in combination, the characters capture the ocker blokiness of their Australian tv counterparts as they work through the list of tips.
Skills on display include juggling, tumbling and balancing with tricks ranging from quite good to what a top circus tradie might call “a bit average”. At times some more sanding was needed as some tricks didn’t quite come off, causing hitches in what was mostly a slick production, but when the tricks worked well, the troupe looked like master builders, aided by a well-chosen high energy soundtrack that helped get the audience clapping along.
Our hosts don’t over-capitalise on circus, as their blueprint allows them to build in comedic elements such as campy dance routines and over-presented rhythmic gymnastics that gathered good laughs.
I’ve seen Chris and Sam at Red Bennies, and found that Taka’s presence added variety through his “meteors” (imagine balls at each end of a rope whirled around at speed) and allowed more complexity in routines.
Although not the best circus I’ve ever seen at a Fringe, as a fairly new company, Three High Acrobatics still produce a more competent product in Knock Off than much of the shabby shit remodelling seen on TV shows that inspired the concept.