Like it was yesterday, I can remember the smells and sounds of the Ashton Circus – a rare and exciting event I would look forward to as a child. At INFAMOUS, a modern circus experience courtesy of the Ashton family, the performing animals are (fortunately) gone, as are the toffee apples (unfortunately), but the giddy carnival atmosphere definitely remains.
INFAMOUS exploded onto the stage, with Jordan and Merrick Ashton taking on the Wheel of Death. The tricks themselves elicited murmurs and gasps but the crowd absolutely screamed as one of the guys stumbled and nearly fell while skipping along the outside of one of the wheels. It was hard to tell if it was just part of the act or a genuine trip, but either way, it was heart-stopping, and set the tone for the remainder of the evening. The acts were all short, exciting, and set to loud music. The crowd was constantly engaged, and very vocal. It was a party in the Spiegel Big Top.
German performer Jan Albertson had two of the performances of the night in both his compellingly beautiful juggling act – demonstrating a mastery I’ve seldom seen – and the Rag Doll routine with impossibly bendy contortionist Kim Upton. There wouldn’t have been a single person in the crowd who didn’t wonder at some point during the performance if she was actually a doll.
Curvaceous female dancers and singers in skimpy dominatrix-inspired costumes added a burlesque flair to the evening, dancing to keep the crowd upbeat and entertained during set changes, and clown Jessie Grant drew tears with his faux-drunken physical comedy routines and applause with his surprising acrobatic talent. There were no dull spots, with stunning aerial acts and a gobsmacking slack wire-slash-juggling performance fighting for the audience’s love. Every cast member earned their place with sweat, and character. It was truly a dizzying spectacle.
Of course no visit to an Ashton circus would be complete without the trapeze, taken on by the new generation of famous Flying Ashtons, who achieved the vertiginous heights of their predecessors with total professionalism and no small amount of sparkle. Hearts racing, toes tapping, smiles a mile wide, the crowd piled out of the stunning Spiegel Big Top buzzing with the knowledge that they’d just been treated to an evening of top shelf entertainment that comes along once in a blue moon. If they’d just thrown a toffee apple into the mix, I’d be able to die happy.
INFAMOUS runs until 12 August in the Spiegel Big Top at Boardwater Parklands. You can purchase tickets at infamous.net.au.