Kozo Kaos

6 October, Green Room, Hastings
Fringe in the ‘Stings 2017

There’s an electric zing in the air at the Green Room. Kids sit round café tables playing at grown-ups, quaffing orange juice from wine glasses, while grown-ups who want a second crack at childhood sip on the real deal and wait for the circus to start. Kozo Komatsubara bursts onto a stage so fresh you can still smell the paint drying, harnessing the latent static into a current that flows through his performance. Looking like he has stepped out of the pages of the Sandman, to a grinding metal soundtrack, he engages the audience, young and young at heart, in a feedback loop of high-energy feats of skill and daring.

He is a proficient juggler and magician to be sure, but Kozo’s real talents lie in his mastery of dramatic tension and his ability to heighten or dissipate the mood of the crowd with a deadpan quip or an animated gesture. Knuckles are bit, beads of sweat bloom on foreheads, faces are hidden in hoods, hats, hands and the shoulders of parents as we are guided through Russian roulette with a single razor-blade impregnated Oreo cookie, a marshmallow plucked from a mousetrap with teeth, knives juggled on a ladder and over reluctant but game volunteers, and a singular illusory feat of razor blades swallowed and regurgitated strung on a piece of dental floss (I imagine he’s popular with the ladies).  At the latter my three-year-old sticks out his own tongue and paws it experimentally, viscerally processing what he is viewing. The releases, when they come are effusive – rarely have I seen a Hawke’s Bay crowd respond with such enthusiasm.

For his encore, he places a napkin in a wine glass, douses it in liquid from a tequila bottle, and for a moment such is his daring that I fear that he is about to construct a Molotov cocktail and I will leave drenched in child’s piss. But no, he balls it up in hand and, with the aid of a fan, produces a flurry of confetti to a collective exhalation and tumultuous applause.

The kids leave hyped, high-fiving him on their way out, to spread the spark that he has ignited onto the Hastings streets.

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