Forgive me for not knowing what a spiegeltent was. I know better now.
The translation from Dutch (mirror tent) sounds a bit underwhelming; in reality it’s a lot more exiting. A spiegeltent is intimate portable cabaret that oozes 20th century charm and leaded glass. The curtains are thick velvet and the wooden stage is fringed with tables and wooden booths. There’s a bar in the back and you can be guaranteed that the bartender is probably cooler than you.
The Sydney Festival was back in town and I had intended on seeing a dramatic play at the Opera House, the kind where your mascara burns your eyes because you cried the entire second act. However I needed more tickets than had been released, so at the last moment I decided on Limbo. All I really knew was that it was playing inside a tent at the Festival Village.
Luckily, unlike your run-of-the-mill sideshow, Limbo was poetry. The simple costumes and minimalistic stage design perfectly suited the ambiance of the Spiegeltent. The acrobat with a ladder, the tuba player in grungy white with black suspenders, the fire breather keeping up with the tap dancer, the aerialist who also played the piano accordion: it really felt like a traveling circus where everyone had to do amazing things with a small budget.
Musician Sxip Shirey was the pulse of the show. He was an enigmatic fallen angel in a white suit with feathers haphazardly poking out of his pockets. He could make music from anything, in fact some of the ‘instruments’ listed in the brochure were glass bowls with red marbles. I don’t know how blue marbles would have sounded, but the red ones were haunting!
I was completely in awe. Limbo was exactly the kind of sideshow that parents don’t want their kids to see because it would make them want to go to circus school. By the end of the show I had already promised myself that I would finally learn to play an instrument and that I would pick up yoga again. I hope I’m not too old to join the circus.
About: The Famous Spiegeltent
About: The Sydney Festival