The Return takes as its theme the story of Ulysses, who, after leading the Trojan War, follows a long epic journey back home. Experiencing a variety of welcomes on their Greek islands stop-overs, from warm and generous to threatening and wicked, he and his men have to overcome the adversity of men and the danger of natural disasters. This ancient myth, has, unfortunately, many resonances today with the horrendous situations faced by middle-eastern refugees, a significance which the director of the Australian circus company “Circa” is keen to embrace.
In practice, human struggle against adversity and longing for lost families and homes show on stage through the extreme exploration of the possibilities of the human body. Acrobatics and contemporary dance provide awe-inspiring moments of riveting gestural expression and existentialist questioning by Circa’s six highly-skilled acrobats in a defiance of gravity and physical risk. In particular, Bradley’s extreme flexibility and talent enables her to present the most amazing and expressive of performances.
It is however regretful that the show did not include quieter spaces in order to allow for a greater focus on the operatic music of Monteverdi and its contemporary technological adaptations, even if it sometimes enhanced the intensity of the show. Both music and performance did not always seem to work together. Despite the interesting experiment in blending popular acrobatics and the more high-brow operatic tradition, the sublime soul of the music would have sufficed on its own, as would have the emotionality of the performance.