AS a country with a relatively young circus history, Vietnam has come a long way in a short space of time.
The art form was introduced to the Vietnamese only at the beginning of the 20th century and the National Vietnamese Circus was founded in 1956.
Fledgling company Nouveau Cirque du Vietnam has made its Australian debut at PIAF with 2012-created production A O Lang Pho, loosely translating to ‘village and city’, and contrasts the country’s fishing villages with the cosmopolitan without a red clown nose in sight.
The sound of the ocean greets the audience as they walk into Regal Theatre.
A lone boat and oar fill the otherwise sparse stage which is soon filled with 17 acrobats and five musicians.
This reviewer never imagined you could do so much with woven Vietnamese fishing basket boats but these performers demonstrated their skill and agility as they balanced on them, spun them around and did other crazy things.
Bamboo poles were thrown across the stage with a choreography that never had them clash before scaffolding-like structures entered the stage to escalate the show with a sequence of sliding rattan baskets delivered like clockwork.
The performance soon transitioned to crowded city life with apartment living and even a spot of beat boxing and breakdancing.
Paced to a soundtrack of live music, A O Lang Pho is a hypnotic display of acrobatics and juggling with beauty in moments of simplicity that soar into daring feats of spectacle.
The lone spinning hoop act towards the end is worth waiting for, as is the aerial act.
A O Lang Pho shows the rhythm of Vietnamese life and it is a rhythm worth experiencing.
The season is on at Regal Theatre until February 25.