FRINGEWORLD, on now, Review

FRINGEWORLD 2021 | Off Chops | 5 Stars

Review | Laura Money

Aww, mate, getting Off Chops is as much a rite of passage for Aussies as trying Vegemite – it’s an experience you may instantly regret but definitely want to do again! The YUCK Circus girls are having a BIG NIGHT OUT, and they want you to join in all the booze-soaked, tangled limbed fun. It’s Aussie youth culture writ large – a genius blend of stupidity, larrikinism, boldness, and brashness that pushes limits and challenges feminine stereotypes. Oh, and the acrobatics are amazing!

Ella Norton and Jessica Smart grab your hand and wrench you out of your seat and into the clubbing scene – one chapstick application at a time. Featuring a painfully familiar soundscape – think trucks going past, crickets and birds, late night Aussie suburban staples – the girls literally hold each other up in a mess of tangled bodies and loose lifts. Even acting drunk, these two are sure footed enough to pull off amazing stunts. Off Chops perfectly demonstrates YUCK Circus’ signature blend of chaos and celebration of undignified movement. Rather than shy away from the awkwardness of climbing someone like a pole, Smart leans in and exaggerates her ascent of Norton, pressing her foot into Norton’s face and relishing her position on top when she gets there. This carefully crafted ‘clumsy’ act is hilarious and both women’s faces are a parody of the dorky kid trying to be cool – it’s pretty close to home.

Rewind and it’s time to see how the night unfolded – from getting ready together amidst ‘babe you look so hot!’ to practising their hot moves before entering the club, Norton and Smart have perfect comic timing and fizzing chemistry. They play off each other brilliantly, cavorting wildly about the stage with dance moves that would make Kath and Kel proud. It’s all about embracing their inner selves which makes Norton’s brilliant turn at the bar so good. Propped up on the aerial bar, Norton’s face is a rollercoaster of emotions from boredom to hope, to attempting seduction, she drinks more and more shots before finally ascending the bar only to be shot down immediately. I just love how Norton teases us with the prospect of getting up in the air but doesn’t – it’s a brilliant piece of comedy.

Smart’s halftime oranges are so funny – she makes eye contact with an audience member and. doesn’t. break. it! Her bug eyes and cocky chapstick lip puckering is a gift from the gods. Whether she’s trying not to laugh at Norton’s antics or rollerskating about in a rubbish bin, Smart’s performance is nuanced and laugh out loud funny. This duo are absolutely made for each other – they bounce off each other’s energy and offer support both literally when holding one another up, and figuratively – when being there for your sis by changing clothes. The sheer affection this pairing have for each other is palpable. They move in seemingly clunky and daggy motions that hilariously disguise their immense circus skills. Norton and Smart make their moves appear effortless – just bung a headstand on top of ya head, just climb me like a streetlamp, just wrap yourself around me while we twirl in mid air – piece of bloody cake.

Off Chops scruitinises and celebrates youth culture and the cultural cringe. It’s a passion pop-soaked, goon bag-fuelled rubber legged adventure that sees the parkour of the city and raises it – or lowers it – to the suburban where everything from a traffic cone to your friend’s face is reimagined as a climbing apparatus. Transforming once unused or ugly spaces into functional ones while challenging the stereotypes of youth culture with a big middle finger up at the establishment, Off Chops is your new favourite Fringe show.

Get Off Chops with these hilarious women HERE

Keep up with The Fourth Wall on Facebook and @fourth_wall_media on Instagram to see what we’re up to this FRINGEWORD 2021

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