Empire is a show from New York that crosses boundaries and blends genre such as comedy, burlesque, acrobatics and more. A bonus is that it is located on Crown's rooftop, where you can admire Melbourne's night view of the city.
Upon arrival you'll find an outside bar and even an ice-cream truck to keep you busy before the doors open. There is a giant cone-like structure that juts out to symbolise one of the main aspects of the show - that it is in a spiegeltent. This is a travelling tent that the show is seen in. Meanwhile, I also took advantage of some photo opportunies with some dangling ropes in the beautifully lit area above.
Once the doors are open and you are seated in a circular and intimate arrangement around the stage, the show's characters come out to play. They'll invade your personal space, make you feel uncomfortable and perhaps confuse you with their quirky traits. The "half-naked Asian guy", as they called him, went around taking photos with and for people, whilst sticking his read end in other audience member's faces, and even took a selfie on my friend's phone.
When the show finally gets underway, you'll be mesmerised by performances, including this girl and her flexibility in a bubble. You will even get hit by a few bubbles yourself, as you gape at the wonders whilst listening to the floaty and ethereal music that accompanies the performance.
In between acts, performers will entertain with comedy and crude jokes. There will definitely be lots of audience participation in such an intimate setting, and a warning from me, is that you should probably watch out if you're a bald man.
There are lots of acrobatics involved during the show and it is quite raw and down-to-earth. There's hardly any extra equipment needed, just pure fitness and strength. The act below also included an element of sexiness, which would explain the use of the term "burlesque" when others describe the show.
Some acts are not what you would expect, which almost sums up the show in general. You know it will be a combination of so many things, but what will that actually involve? There's only one way to find out. Despite my research, even I was still not sure what I had bought tickets to see.
Throughout the show, there are also singers and a band (although I'm not too sure if the band was actually playing). The singers sang solos, once again hinting at a burlesque theme, as well as accompaniment to others' performances. There's a suitable soundtrack for the whole show, matching the pace of each performance and taking the audience through ups and downs.
The show is captivating to say the least. It's unique and memorable, confronting yet mesmerising. I'd definitely recommend the show, as long as you approach it with an open mind and no clear expectations!
When: Tue-Sat 7.30pm & 9.30pm shows, Sun 6pm & 8pm shows running for approx. 90 mins. Show closes May 11th.
Where: Rooftop Crown, 8 Whiteman St, Crown Entertainment Complex, Melbourne 3006.
Price: ranges from $59-$150
Buy tickets: http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/ShowNE.aspx?sh=EMPIRE13