Chores ★★★★☆ | News & Features

What better way is there to introduce young children to circus than through a scenario they are all bound to recognise: being told to tidy their room. So begins Choreswith the classic cartoon-style offstage voice of Mother, issuing instructions to her recalcitrant, messy darlings.

These darlings are Australian circus duo, Shannon Vitali and Christian Nimri, of Hoopla Clique, who bound onto the stage, dungaree-clad and speaking a toddler proto-language. They’ve been promised a ride on their bikes if only they will clear up the clothes, toys and teddies strewn across their bedroom floor. Cue an hour of clowning, face-pulling, acrobatics, slapstick, bottom jokes and some water-based audience participation (caution: if your children are sensitive to being sprayed with water, do warn them in advance).

Nimri and Vitali are both slick, skilled acrobats (and deceptively good roller skaters, skidding about on a minuscule stage space). They find ways to turn that tumbling, arm-flailing energy which children seem to possess into routines involving flinging each other around, or using each other’s bodies as climbing frames. At one point, Vitali falls asleep on a building block and Nimri has to carefully maneuver her into all sorts of delicate positions in order to build a precarious tower, before shimmying to the top. Although it’s all carefully choreographed, it feels terrifyingly spontaneous.

They’re also fabulous at frothing up the kids in the crowd with their inability to understand the simple instructions being yelled at them. They ‘accidentally’ turn a block with ‘C’ painted on it the wrong way up, which prompts a host of tiny voices to point and shout, ‘the C! The C!’ Nimri frowns. ‘C? Ah, Sí, Español!’ The children combust with yelling.

But it is Vitali and Nimri’s rapport with each other, and their ability to perfectly embody the anarchic personalities of young kids that carries the show: you get the impression that, like all the best clowns, they could draw physical comedy out of anything. They find creative ways to steal each other’s soft toys and stick pants on each other’s heads, while Vitali has a scene-stealing meltdown at a (wrongly accused) farting teddy bear. It’s relentlessly, brilliantly silly, with the kind of observational accuracy about kids’ gleeful, malicious behavior that parents will either find triggering or hilarious (but probably the laughter).

Assembly George Square Gardensuntil 28 August, 1.25pm.


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