Part cabaret and part circus, Scott Maidment’s rollicking Limbo has already taken London by storm. After 145 performances there, the show is currently shacked up in Edinburgh, before making its way to Australia in time for next year’s Sydney Festival.
This time around, however, the scope is even bigger. “I guess you could say the show is all about heaven and hell,” Maidment says, “and waiting between the two, in limbo. If you want to take the show literally, you can see a narrative about that, but also, you can watch it and have a really good time. Some people get a narrative out of it and come away saying that they’re thinking about the ideas of heaven and hell in a different way, and others come and just love the music and the acts, and we’re fine either way. It’s a bit of both worlds.”
One of the most exciting elements of Limbo, Maidment says, is the international cast. “It has people from New York, Montreal, Marseilles, as well as a couple of Sydneysiders,” he says. “The thing that connects them is that they are all standouts in their individual acts, but also, that they are multi-talented. Mikael is from Brussels, and he does Chinese pole,” Maidment says. “There are lots of Chinese pole artists in the world, but he also plays the guitar, sings and beatboxes. Eve from Montreal does aerial work in the show, but she also plays piano accordion and dances. When it came to the performers, I wanted people who weren’t just specialists in one skill, but who had a whole range. I spent most of my time in the planning process saying ‘what else do you do?’”
In terms of the look and feel of the show, Maidment wanted to leave things pretty ambiguous, giving the sense that the characters have come together from many different corners of the world and walks of life. The only thing they have in common is that they’ve found themselves in the place known as Limbo. “It’s the kind of place where you don’t know what’s going to happen next or how long you’re going to wait,” Maidment says. “The characters all have an unspecified back story as to why they’re there, but their costumes hint at where they might have come from and who they might have been in their lives, and then you’re able to fill in those blanks yourself and make up your own story as you watch the show.”
The show features original music by New York composer Sxip Shirey, and Maidment promises that it’s a truly unique score. “It’s really eccentric music,” he says. “You have everything from the sound of a marble dropping into a glass bowl to bullhorn harmonica and a sousaphone, there are crazy keyboards and there’s beatboxing. The cast play a huge range of instruments.” Shirey worked together on the score with Grant Arthur and Mick Stuart, a pair of local Sydney lads, and the collaboration went better than anyone could have predicted. “They gelled really fast,” Maidment says. “They met for the first time in January and made an hour and a half’s worth of music in the first three days straight after that. Once you hear some of the tunes, you’ll be blown away. People talk about it as a New Orleans marching band walking to a house party in Berlin and meeting the Beastie Boys. It’s really quirky music.”
BY ALASDAIR DUNCAN
Photo: David Solm