Review | Head First Acrobats take us for a wild ride in ‘Railed’

Railed | The West Australian Spiegeltent & The Edith | Until 9 Feb | ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ 

The boys of Head First Acrobats have ridden back into town for another Fringe World rodeo, with another unmissable addition to the festival lineup.

The independent posse first came onto my Fringe radar a few years back with Elixir – a hilarious sci-fi journey which saw the boys flipping and stunting their way through a zombie-esque outbreak – and now they’ve saddled up again with Railed, which you might have caught at last year’s outing.

The Head First Gang – Cal Harris, Harley Timmermans, Adam McMahon and AJ Saltalamacchia – are on the run, and the audience spends a raucous hour with the fellas as they celebrate a successful robbery the only way they know how; with some goofy slapstick gags and really fucking impressive acrobatics.

In case you haven’t deduced from the photo or my choice of words; Railed brings the boys into the Western theme this year, and their high-energy antics feel right at home between the saloon doors.

Each of the artists embrace the theme, as the four jostle one another into showing off their various talents.

Strong-man Cal impresses with his ability to climb up to precarious heights, and his taming of a ladder, while designated drunk AJ shows some impressive finesse on a springboard while in his cups. Adam gives the audience a literal hat-trick, and takes on the role of a very flamboyant, well-endowed show-stealing horse… while Harley takes us for a spin in his lyra, and takes to great heights as his unicorn alter-ego.

The gags are as impressive as their death-defying feats. The team commit delightfully to faking out the audience, and gleefully play the long con with a tricks peppered throughout their solo sets. Even when the boys make rare breaks from their cowboy facades, you can’t help but laugh along with the fellas as they crack up at their companions. They’re too dang charming.

As they did in Elixir, the Head First gang perfectly blend their immense talents with a heavy dose of slapstick – sometimes blue – humour, that makes for the quintessential Fringe experience. In a crowded field, this self-produced troupe stand out among the rest with their singular brand of comedy-circus.

My friend did note as we left the show, though, that the boys do tend to lean in to the gay gags – and while queerness certainly does not feel like the butt of the joke – a more inclusive greeting than ‘Ladies & Gentlemen’ wouldn’t have gone astray.

Head First Acrobats have certainly caught my attention, and I’m sure you’ll be seeing Railed on many-a-must-see list this year. As you should. So giddy-up and get your tickets now! (Sorry.)

See Railed until 9th of February.

Leigh Andrew Hill is an editor at OUTinPerth, with a BA from the University of Western Australia in Media Studies & Art History. Since 2005, Leigh has studied and practiced journalism, film-making, script-writing, language, contemporary performance and visual arts. Leigh is also a freelancer writer, and producer and presenter on RTRFM 92.1.

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