Freak show turns up the heat

WHETHER sleeping on a bed of nails, hammering one up a nostril, squeezing into impossibly small suitcases or playing with fire, Fremantle locals Tarrabelle Murphy and partner Rusty Hammond are hardcore about circus.

“We take it to the next step—and further,” Murphy tells the Herald.

The Zap Circus duo have performed at the world’s most prestigious fringe festivals, including Perth, but this year is a first, with the Fringe in Fremantle.

Titled Freak Circus it’s not about deformed bodies or bearded ladies, Murphy says: “It’s less born oddities and more freakish performance.”

Law graduate Murphy (27) chose circus over law—some might argue there are disturbing similarities—while Hammond (29) turned his back on an engineering and environmental science career.

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“Our workplaces got annoyed at the time we spent with circus and asked us to make a choice,” Murphy says.

It was a no-brainer and they packed their bags with an assortment of tools of the trade, including hammers and nails, blindfolds, machetes for juggling and fire-swallowing gear, and then headed overseas.

More than 27 countries and five continents later, the pair still loves every single minute of circus performance and a freak circus has been on their wish list for a while.

Most “dark circus” is too scary—or too nude—for kids, but their Freak Circus show, while promising to be “a bit scary” is G-rated, Murphy says: “It’s about the tricks.”

You can catch Zap Circus at Little Creatures Nextdoor February 5–8.


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