Review: Yoga Clowns of the Apocalypse, Salamanca Arts Centre (TAS)

Highly visual and physically engaging, this absurd clown show quickly became a buzz around Hobart.
Review: Yoga Clowns of the Apocalypse, Salamanca Arts Centre (TAS)

Performers Felicity Jane Horsley, Shannon McGurgan and Robin Godfrey. Image supplied by Felicity Jane Horsley.

With a title like this, it is difficult not to wonder what is in store for audiences. Yoga Clowns of the Apocalypse is an absurd physical-theatre clown show created over the last 12 months, after initial creative seeding from Salamanca Arts Centre’s HyPe Program.

Featuring its familiar rocky backdrop, the Peacock Theatre stage is dominated by a rigged rope, a shopping trolley carefully disguised as the omnipresent goddess of destruction Kali, and a busy clutter of discarded items.  The three circus trained performers leap straight into action on each other’s backs and in character as devotees of the goddess in search of answers to life’s big questions. Satire meets clowning as they stake out their place in their relationship with each other and the giant blue Kali. With tongues firmly in cheek and at several times waggling directly at the audience, their simple routine with the yoga mats cracks any semblance of a serious crust of focus. The repetition of these asanas, along with an internal yoga-mat-pecking-order, is the structural glue for this piece. Mostly non-verbal, the characters use this motif to express some sort of unity of purpose in an otherwise dystopian environment.

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Exposing their vulnerability in various ways, the individuals strive for ascension. Circus skills of clowning, acro and chair balancing (in this case, Felicity Jane Horsley’s stacked shopping trollies) are used to rise above the everyday doldrums of existence. Using discarded and salvaged objects such as old bicycle tyres as circus equipment, the humour is spiked with references to a junkyard of waste and rampant consumerism.

Yoga Clowns is highly visual and physically engaging, full of slapstick ‘mistakes’ and understated tricks. The fast pace surges on through clear thematic chapters sandwiched between each asana session; the soundtrack guiding each with a big brother presence.  Although the computer game audio mix accompanying Robin Godfrey’s corde lisse is somewhat grating, its disconnection to the intent of her attempt to ascend seems to emphasise the futility of seeking solutions by escape. Shannon McGurgan’s character too attempts to escape reality via a goofy smile and an imaginary jetpack, but he too is brought back to reality to again participate in the final sweet and very human interaction between the players.

Yoga Clowns of the Apocalypse is a work that clearly surprises and delights audiences and very quickly became a buzz around town. 

4 stars out of 5 ★★★★

Yoga Clowns of the Apocalypse
Co-created and Performed by Felicity Jane HorsleyShannon McGurgan and Robin Godfrey
Directed by Kane Peterson
Produced by Felicity Jane Horsley and Shannon McGurgan
8-12 May 2019
Peacock Theatre, Salamanca Arts Centre, Hobart
Tickets $19-$25

Lesley Graham

Friday 17 May, 2019

About the author

Lesley Graham has been active in dance and dance education for over 30 years, and has previously written for The Mercury and Dance Australia.