The boys of Railed bring to town their comedy western that parades as a circus. They are a happy posse of hopeless cowboys, with generous dollops of embraceable male bonding.
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How many set-ups with teasingly homoerotic overtones, can one circus show sustain? Plenty... when Head First Acrobat’s Railed places four frisky, highly physicalised bandits alone in a (very) Wild West.
Left to their own devices, and with a few tricks up their sleeves, they are ever eager to cook up all sorts of boys’ own tom-foolery.
Railed is set firmly between “life at the outpost”, a derailed spaghetti western and a particularly demented Looney Tunes episode.
As Tom proudly notes, “We do different versions of ‘fun and dumb’... that’s all we do...it’s a brand we seem to have developed.. “.
Tom is the self-described “god of mischief” of the troupe of four and the obvious source for much of their merriment.
Railed is a blazing example of what Tom admires in a successful circus. It’s “got to have a story; it’s got to have relatable characters; it’s got to be funny and have a nice aesthetic “ says Tom.
Despite his “whole of work” views, Tom runs off the rails with the tricks and the gags. He readily leaves co-director Cal Harris to nail the look... And Cal has a rounded approach to aesthetics. As Tom slyly throws away, “Cal is the big one with the man bum... He’s dreamy.. and has lots of fans.”
As grown-up boys having fun, the troupe present somewhat “scraggily; like cowboys would... smelly and dirty..”, Tom boasts somewhat proudly.
Pushed along by a Morricone-esque mash-up man-beat, the show allows naturally for a hipsterfied form of endearingly affectionate male bonding. Railed Makes mere bromance look pretty lame.
Even if our merry men are just very good actors—which must be part of the skills-set—the troupe’s camaraderie, playfulness, familiarity and sheer joy-in-companionship is inviting and infectious.
And while our merry crew set out on any number of adventures, they never seem to actually get started. As Tom notes, he and his buddies, “so never leave the bar.. This is definitely what happens at the outpost,”
Between wacks of tom-foolery, interspersed with a little horse play here and there, their extraordinary physical feats vigorously push the playful narrative along.
As a masculinised romp, Railed is a new-age form of camp. Gone are the double-entendres and glitterised-campy devices of a vampier age.. ever plotting to trick innocent boys together in imagined acts of delicious unnaturalness... And in Railed, there is little need for subterfuge, because there is little resistance.
Gone also, are the mumbling, neurotic, closeted cowboys of a more recent past; cowboys condemned to their cold isolation on the windswept, broken-backed High Planes.
Railed annihilates at a stoke, whole genres happy to mine eternally negative and unresolvable images attached to unattainable masculinity—be that peddled by the Chippendales or the Calvin Kline underwear ads of the past. Our crew are just posse of happy cowboys; physical, familiar, flirty and ever ready to play.
The strong plot line of Railed, points to a form of circus that advances the genre beyond a collection of highly impressive physical acts...yet the troupe’s skilful physicality is the assumed base offering.
As the plot advances, it draws the audience into an ever widening imaginary world. And sitting within it, the answer to the great question seems so obvious... Why wouldn’t anyone want to run away and join the circus?
It is a delightful prospect, especially if these chaps were your companions, and you were up for some shenanigans and a bit of horse-play. brrr brrr...
As Tom concludes, “we just I want our audiences to have a rollicking good time..”