Review: Summer Play Factor – SPF at Brisfest

Review: Summer Play Factor – SPF at Brisfest

28 October, 2021

By Catherine Lawrence
Creative Futures Photography
23 Sep 2021

I was fortunate to catch the Summer Play Factor (SPF) world premiere at the January 2021 Gold Coast Home of The Arts (HOTA) Scoop Festival. It was a delight to see how, in such a short period of time, SPF has evolved since that first outing, with new additions to the content and to the cast.

The original performers appear to have further grown in maturity and skill-set, while the new members blended seamlessly into the Flipside Circus Performance Troupe (the Brisbane Festival SPF co-creators and performers included Abbey Factor, Aurora Bennett-Godde, Eden Vann, Emily Shearer, Indra Garvey, Izzy Lawton, Jedda Bell, Jordan Eriksen, Lucy Hunterland, Luke Whitefield, Meg Barber, Mia Hughes, Oscar Morris, Rachel Robinson, Samantha Giles, and Teleah Richardson).

And the additions to the show worked exceptionally well. I loved the extra juggling—with the use of clubs and larger gym balls as well as the more traditional juggling balls—which ensured that the ‘beach cricket’ piece was a better fit within the 40-minute program. The use of the ‘ice box’ for some of the play and entrances was a great new prop—and allowed one of the newest members of the troupe to perform a crab pose on the edges of the box (which at the time was being carried by fellow performers…).  A number of the newer items in the show also added to the sense of fun, and the quality of the work. In this latest version, the handstand balance blocks were hidden behind some lovely images of corals. This had the slight downside of our not realising quite how difficult the balancing was, but did ensure that the piece created a real sense of the fish and sea anemones ‘playing’ in the water (complete with great acting by all concerned, when anticipating the approaching ‘shark’… to the sound of the ‘Jaws’ theme, of course).

(Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography)

(Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography)

(Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography)

(Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography)

(Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography)

(Picture Credit: Creative Futures Photography)

Watching this high-energy show it is easy to forget that this is a youth circus troupe. The performers are highly-professional and well-drilled—delivering skilful tumbling, excellent juggling, and great strength and balance (including some very impressive one-hand lifts, and spectacular flips and jumps). They also make much of what they do look effortless, and managed to retain sufficient energy to look like they really enjoy what they do (and that includes the choreography… look out for the Rock Lobster’ moves, and ‘dancing penguin-style’ in the Mr Blue Sky finale).

My highlights from SPF are probably the work using the surfboard (loved it all—from the ‘surfing’ through to the acro-balance and throws), and the strength and balance work was just breath-taking.  The penultimate item was an amazing display of tumbling, flipping, jumping and strength that included three rotating towers (each of three performers) and Whitefield’s fabulous high jumps and turns on/from the hands of Morris and Davies.

Flipside Circus has brought together a great team for this piece. The performance troupe members are credited as co-creators alongside the directors/co-creators (Neridah Waters, Helen Cassidy & Amy Stuart [Stuart is also Head Trainer]) and dramaturg/co-creator (Robert Kronk).  I absolutely loved the Sound Design, presented by the onstage DJ/’Mr Ice-cream’ (Mike Wilmett)… although I did find myself with a Mr Blue Sky earworm for the rest of the day. SPF also has great costume design (Amanda Fairbanks), and enthusiastic production by Gabi Gallardo (Production manager) and Kelsey Booth (Associate Producer/Stage Manager).

But don’t let me try to convince you. Look out for this show and make your own mind up. You won’t be disappointed; SPF is high energy and playful circus summer fun, with a definite ‘wow factor’. Great for all the family.

Catherine Lawrence

(Picture Credits: Creative Futures Photography)

(Picture Credits: Creative Futures Photography)

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Audience Information: Look out for anything from Flipside Circus, and if you find SPF on show near you then book immediately. 40 minutes. All ages+. Tickets for the Brisbane Festival Summer Play Factor, were excellent value at $15 (the show ran from 21-23 September, 11am and 1pm each day).

The reviewer attended the Thursday 23 September 2021 show (11am).

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