15 February 2018, Common Room, Hastings By Sarah Cates
Not your typical Thursday evening in down town Hastings. The crowd of folk mingling outside the doors to the Common Room look like out-of-towners, young, fresh, European accents, dresses with hoods, hip hats, coloured sandals/kinky boots embellishing sun-kissed legs. Men with long hair, girls with shaved heads. Dreadlocks. Colour, flavour and enthusiasm.
Common Room has temporarily become an intimate city circus. Like street theatre, but inside. Playing host to an appetiser of what the New Zealand Juggling and Circus Festival offered this weekend at the Hawke’s Bay Show Grounds.
Faces of many types and ages waited for the show to begin. There was an air of excitement. All that was lacking was the smell of candy floss and hay bales.
Act one. The Strong Man. An energetic, robust looking man took to the stage, in a full length red suit adorned with gold sequins. Mitchell Pitch, freshly home from the UK, where he’s been a ring master, welcomed us, juggling. His positivity and humour were radiant.
Mitchell stripped off his glitzy red suit to reveal his candy-striped unitard and in classic strong man fashion displayed his outstanding feats of strength combined with skilled athleticism. His gymnastic ability enthralled the audience as he precariously maintained a one-handed hand-stand on a pile of three bricks while moving another pile bricks with his free hand. The audience were captivated. His final feat involved a sledge hammer and a breeze block. Mitchell placed the masonry across his stomach then his assistant smashed the block with the sledge hammer. It took two attempts. The audience gasped, clapped and cheered. A true Strong Man.
Act Two. The Juggling Master of Illusion. A very different act to the Strong Man. Kozo Kaos had an edge as sharp as the razor blades he swallowed and the machetes he juggled. Difficult to take your eyes off him for a second, he immediately had the audience on the edge of their seats as he appeared proficiently juggling numerous skittles on the spaciously challenged Common Room stage. His act was diverse. He treated us to illusion and displays of physical skill that were spiced with danger and intrigue. A natural entertainer, he combined hands-on talent with cognitive cleverness, treating the audience to an accompanying dialogue that kept them all laughing! A remarkable visual performing artist.
All this for koha. Two amazing young people. Such a pleasure to watch. I left the Common Room feeling utterly spoilt and very satisfied.