The 2019 Brisbane Festival is teeming with many fantastic options. It can be difficult to choose… which might mean that some patrons might first be tempted to skip over a show that is listed under ‘circus’ and ‘family.’ Which would be a pity. This is circus that made the opening night audience smile, brought tears to a few eyes, drew many gasps of admiration, and ended with a well-deserved standing ovation.

Age & time are important themes in this show. We Live Here was originally commissioned by Metro Arts, as a collaboration between Flipside Circus (known for providing circus opportunities for young people) and Hummingbird House (one of only three hospices for children in Australia—and the only facility providing respite and end of life care for Queensland children). So yes, this is a show that combines the work of young performers, with stories about the short lives of the guests in the care of Hummingbird House, and reminders of the time-pressures faced by the parents of some very sick children.

Watching, enthralled, it was occasionally difficult to remember that the talented performers and co-creators (Indra Garvey, Mia Hughes, Amy Stuart, Skip Walker-Milne and Luke Whitefield) are all under 30. And that three of the cast are under 18. Together, the performers demonstrate a great maturity: in the standard of their theatrical and circus performance, and in their reflections on (and response to) the stories that are at the heart of the show.

We Live Here is an inspired theatrical event: five Flipside Circus performers and creators, a time-focused video projection and a moving soundtrack that includes the words of Hummingbird House staff and parents (Mik La Vage, Audio and Projection Designer), and the leadership and creativity of Natano Fa’anana and Bridget Boyle (Co-Directors). I had the opportunity to see this show in November 2018, and was greatly impressed then (click here for more). The 2019 Brisbane Festival production was even funnier, but also more touching; it also provided an opportunity for the young co-creators to demonstrate their growing circus and acrobatic skills. The 2019 Festival show demonstrates the versatility of the piece and performers. We Live Here works in many different performance spaces, so I do hope that it will tour, and ensure wider audiences can experience the work.

The circus skills are outstanding: amazing loose rope work, impressive strength and lifts, flexible and flowing acrobatics, and some fabulous hula hooping. But this is also an impressive theatrical work; an experience that will stay with you long after the show. It’s funny (watch out for the family pool scene), and it’s thought-provoking (you’ll be mesmerised by the circus work illustrating the minute-by-minute daily pressures faced by the ‘mother’). Your kids will love the acrobatics and fun, and you’ll reflect on an amazing performance that makes you think about what really matters in life (and have a renewed admiration for the work of the parents who devote their lives to their terminally-ill kids, and the vital work of hospice care staff).  Don’t miss out. Go.

Verdict: Go. Brisbane Festival, Hummingbird House and Flipside Circus. Three great reasons to be very proud of Queensland.

Reviewer: Catherine Lawrence
Pictures Credit: Creative Futures Photography
Original version: here