Adelaide Fringe 2020 – Dystopia

Presented CircAxe, Dystopia tells the tale of a war torn, post-apocalyptic Earth which has been seized by a dark warlord and is inhabited by otherworldly creatures and halflings. Dystopia seeks to offer up a dark, fantastical production which features a blistering, highly technical yet soulful style of virtuoso guitar playing, complimented by a diverse cast of circus and physical theatre artists.

The performance starts with an eerie video of war, which ends with a giant nuclear bomb – signifying the end of the world as we know it and the emergence of the world which is Dystopia. This emerges the audience into the dark world where Dystopia is set, introducing characters on stage who are otherworldly creatures, steampunk monsters, terrified army personnel, and abandoned children who have been ravaged by war.

Live electric guitar performed by Scott Reed electrifies the audience and shakes the theatre with the original soundtrack made for Dystopia. His performance guides the show with his role as the dark warlord, and the music acts as a narrator throughout the performance – with the music echoing the emotions of each scene.

The first performer is dressed as a young satyr in white, who performs elegant movements with her fan-dancing. The fans have white, flowing material attached to them and they dance and swirl with the young satyrs movements. The simple movements in the contemporary dance routine emit elegance and innocence.

Next came a red pixie, who ignited her stick to make a sword of fire. She pranced around the stage, looking in wonder upon her newfound weapon and throwing jabs at the dark warlord. The dark warlord retorted her attacks with blasts of epic music from his electric guitar, which works as his weapon of destruction.

A hula hoop emerges from the top of the stage and red faerie uses this to perform an aerial routine. She hangs from the hoop in different positions and causes it to spin her around as she performs. Following her are two of the abandoned children who wield hula hoops in symmetry as they light up against the dark background.

As creepy circus music starts to play, a janky doll-like girl emerges on stage beneath an aerial performance bar. She hangs from this in janky movements and throws herself around like an inanimate object which has been possessed. A mage appears on stage behind her, and starts juggling three luminous orbs which change in colour as he moves around. They glow against the black background and you can hardly see the mage due to his black gown.

The red pixie returns in a long gown as a temptress, surrounded by her otherworldly companions. They undress her gown to reveal the original red pixie outfit as the temptress ignites a baton. She performs simple movements as she spins the flaming staff and sends sparks across the stage.

As a curtain unravels from the ceiling, an innocent elf dressed in white emerges onto the stage. Her aerial performance involves two curtains which she climbs upon and wraps them around her body to support her as she performs various positions near the ceiling. She finishes her performance with an incredible free-fall from the ceiling, being stopped just above the ground from the curtains she has wrapped around her body. This is followed by a similar routine by Chantelle Reed, who also performs an aerial routine, but as an evil pixie who is queen to the dark warlord.

The performance then goes on to show a series of contemporary dance routines by a terrified army woman, a spider-like contortionist, and finally a huge group of war-torn children who group together to try and defeat the dark warlord. However, their efforts fail as the children are defeated by the dark warlord in an epic guitar solo. The dark warlord then proceeds to marry his queen and take over the new, dystopian world.

The storyline was interesting and the costuming brilliant, with the performers showing great passion. Although the season for Dystopia is over, be sure to keep an eye on what CircAxe is doing next so you can support some local, upcoming Adelaide talent.

Words by Elisabeth Marie

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