Chasing Smoke is a circus show with Indigenous performers, offering a contemporary performance of their craft mixed in with some comedy and history for good measure. These elements combine to create something moving and funny, simultaneously offering a window into another culture.
Chasing Smoke began with a comedic sketch that was dripping with sarcasm and commentary on Australian society’s stereotyping of Indigenous Australians. This led straight into circus, with this the basis on which the rest of the show would follow. The humour in the sketches was biting but honest, while also offering a lesson in Australian history as well. The circus pieces were also done with skill and were a mix of fun and serious, with many routines telling a story set to music by indigenous artists. At times the circus routines were perhaps not as polished or spectacular as other shows I’ve seen, however as the show was not reliant on just circus this did not lead to a decline in quality or enjoyment of the performance.
Held at the mid-sized Ukiyo in Gluttony, this allowed the story telling elements of the show to have greater impact, as there was a feeling of closeness between performer and audience. This especially worked well when each performer had the opportunity to tell their personal story about their background. These pieces were quite moving and it was clear that they were very important to each storyteller. The message I got from Chasing Smoke was that the performers were proud of their culture, but were also wanting their audience to understand the history and previous wrongs committed against Indigenous Australians, and further, would like unity to make a better future. I would say based on the standing ovation they received, the audience were definitely on their side.
Chasing Smoke is engaging, fun, and informative all at once. What it may lack in polish at times it makes up for in the passion each performer puts in. Circus shows are abundant at the Fringe, however, if you want to see something which switches from acrobatics to beautiful storytelling and back again, this would be the show for you.
Chasing Smoke is on until Sunday 3rd of March. Buy tickets HERE.
By Tania Nicholas