Carol Flavell Neist | Arts Hub |  Tuesday 17 February 2015

In Idle Hands, we meet a quartet of incredibly talented young men, each one superbly gifted in all branches of the acrobat’s art.

Idle Hands is the brainchild of multi-skilled Avan Waite, originally a student of the late, much-loved, Perth entertainer Reg Bolton. Waite moved on to the National Institute of Circus Arts and thence to the professional stage. His interest in interdisciplinary performance and the expression of character through movement has led him into some unusual creative spaces. In Idle Hands, Waite takes occasional breaks from acrobatics to play keyboards, and appears equally comfortable in both activities.

For this latest iteration of the production, Waite has chosen three other young men as his team mates: the clownish pole artist, Reuben Zalme; the physically impressive newcomer to the group, Will Meager, whose expertise gives the lie to the idea that good acrobats are always of slight build; and Jon Bonaventura, (not to be confused with the actor of the same name) rope artist and stuntman extraordinaire.

Technically, this work is faultless. All four performers are experts in their field and are multi-talented: each one is a fine acrobat, showing flair in both aerial and floor work, and juggling as well, and each one is a more-than-competent dancer. It was, perhaps, the acting and the choreography that let the work down.

Idle Hands is not a new work, dating back to at least 2012. Its creator has made changes over the years, which perhaps expresses a certain dissatisfaction with the work’s effectiveness. Promoted as being ‘an exploration of hidden worlds,’ and ‘a slow descent into the insular lives of four male archetypes,’ Idle Hands fails to make an impact on that level. The characters are not sufficiently clearly delineated – I had no idea what ‘archetype’ each performer represented, although I think one was supposed to be mad. If one is to represent character through movement, that character needs to have a unique movement repertoire for the duration of the piece: a repertoire that can be carried through into the various acrobatic disciplines. This didn’t happen here.

That’s not to say that judged as entertainment the work was not brilliant. It was. I suspect that Waite has not yet reached the height of his creative powers, and that in five years’ time he will be producing genuinely meaningful pieces within the discipline of acrobatics – no mean feat. Fringe Festivals are the ideal vehicle for experimentation in the meantime, and I hope this team can stay together to learn and grow through the kind of stimulation that the collective development of creative works can provide.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Idle Hands
The Big Top
Fringe World, Perth
12-15 February

IMAGE: ‘Idle Hands’, image via Arts Hub