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Updates from the 2011 Artistic DirectorElisabeth EastherSchools Review CompetitionReviews
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Majesty and Madness in Wonderland

By - 4 Mar 2011
"Your ticket to Smoke and Mirrors doesn’t just let you in to the Festival’s Spiegeltent; it takes you on a journey to the soulful, spectacular, and sometimes seedy side of the circus. And it’s a hell of a trip!"

Reviewed by Joanna Page, 4 Mar 2011
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"Craig Ilot and iOTA's creation is one of majesty and madness - evident from the moment you settle into your ringside seat and watch a rabbit transform into your Ringmaster (iOTA) for the evening.

His role is to hold up the mirror and smoke out the truth behind the glitz, glamour and gaudiness before you, yet he never turns the mirror on himself. Channeling Elvis, Tim Curry's Frank N Furter, America's Next Top Model's Miss J and Bono (all in equal measure), he balances dominating the stage with blending into the background to let other performers take centre stage.

And they do.

There's Wayne Scott Kermond's vaudeville slapstick love song and tap-drum battle. There are breathtaking displays of acrobatics and a deadpan hand-balancing strength showdown from James Brown, Casey Douglas, Christian Schooneveldt-Reid. There's sleight of hand, classic magic and illusion from Timothy Woon. And Kali Retallack's trapeze work almost had me wishing I hadn't quit gymnastics at the age of six.

And then there's Queenie van de Zandt's electrolysis-challenged goddess who holds the audience in the palm of her hand with a voice to rival Alison Krauss and a full Gospel choir. 

Throughout it all human-sized rabbits evoke an element of Alice in Wonderland - and wonderland is exactly where you are. 

This isn't a happy take-the-kids circus. This is a place of loss and longing where the façade of fantasy crumbles quickly. And everything about it draws you in. The costumes, sound, lighting and design transport you straight to the Ringmaster's world and the band couldn't be tighter (especially in their Jesus of Montreal-esque porn soundtrack). 

This production is seamless. It wouldn't work if any one element was slightly off. I loved it, and while I shan't run away to join the circus, I shall by another ticket so I can visit it again."

Auckland Arts Festival 2011
Smoke & Mirrors
Directed by Craig Ilott
Co-created by Craig Illot and iOTA (Australia)

at Spiegeltent, Aotea Square, Auckland
Until 19 Mar 2011


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