Limbo: The Return is better than ever

Limbo: The Return (C) Matilda Marseillaise
Reading Time: 5 minutes

It’s not often that a sequel lives up to the hype of the original but fortunately in the case of Limbo: The Return making its worldwide debut at Adelaide Fringe 2024, it is definitely as good as, and maybe even better than the original Limbo.

Limbo: The Return (C) Matilda Marseillaise
(c) Matilda Marseillaise

There are a few familiar faces from the original Limbo as well as some newer ones in Limbo: The Return but it feels like a completely new show. The purgatory limbo theme seems to be a lot more prominent than I remember with each of the performers “arriving” and gazing upward and around them, wondering where they are.


Limbo: The Return
Sxip (c) Matilda Marseillaie

Musician wise, it’s the familiar line-up. The iconic Sxip Shirley is back as Maestro with his air raid siren, harmonica and more – he even plays a Bundt cake tin at one point in the show! He’s joined by musicians Grant Arthur on the huge sousaphone – I still think Limbo and now Limbo: The Return are the only times I have seen this ginormous instrument that wraps around Grant’s body. Mike Stuart plays almost all the instruments – drums, bass, guitar and saxophone as well as a unique instrument of his own making, The Polymba (look it up)! As with the original, in Limbo: The Return music plays an important role in the show.


Each of the performers arrive onto the stage looking around, wondering where they have found themselves. Their doing so, paired with the misty lighting and the instrumental music transports the audience to Limbo with them.


Hailing from the UK, rope virtuoso Ben Loader arrives onto the stage through the audience appearing to be controlled by puppet (or Limbo) master Sxip. His jerky and twisted movements suggest he is trying to resist control but it’s futile. He arches and collapses under Sxip’s control. A rope drops, he slowly rises, looking around and above, before slowly reaching up and supporting himself with the rope. What follows is a visually stunning performance in which Ben Loader twirls and wraps himself in rope, ascending to the ceiling of the Spiegeltent all while newcomer Australian Clara Fable sings hauntingly.


As with all of the performers in Limbo: The Return, Clara Fable is multi-talented. She is both the singer and the fire-eater in the show, showing that swallowing fire does not affect your ability to sing. Her fire twirling and swallowing act was as enchanting as her singing. She appears throughout the other acts in Limbo: The Return, whether it be dancing or adding to the fun.


The incredible Hilton Denis gallops onto the stage before he taps seemingly faster and faster much to the crowd’s delight. Hilton is great at getting the crowd involved whether it be clapping or making suggestive sounds on cue. He is not only a fantastic tap dancer but also excellent at mime and his very expressive face adds to the experience.


Limbo: The ReturnThree playful bunnies discovering the rope were amusing. Exploring the rope, they each unintentionally cause chaos and comedy for each other. Appearing as if they didn’t know what they were doing only to realise they were capable was cute.


Bulgarian aerialist, Maria Moncheva performs her chain aerial number where instead of the usual ropes, metal chains are her tool. She contorts, twists and turns, splits, spins and dangles and makes it look easy.


Spaniard David Marco’s speciality is the slack ropes and his performances were mesmerising. The slack rope becomes a swing, with which he reaches out over the crowd. At one point he balances and twirls becoming a human diamond with feet and hands each gripping its own strands of rope.


Sadly, due to injury the day before the show, French gravity-defying Chinese pole master, Mikael Bres didn’t get to showcase his Chinese pole skills but was ever-present with his beatboxing and even performing a French ballad he’d written for one of the performances. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope to go back to Limbo: The Return to see him perform before the season wraps up.


Limbo: The Return happens in, above and around the audience and we are warned at the beginning of the show to stay in our seats. We understood why a bit later in the show. Our mouths dropped at several points throughout the performances but Limbo: The Return had us captivated by the three artists atop flexible poles diving into the crowd before dropping lots of white feathers on stage. We wondered if it was a nod to Gratte Ciel’s Place des Anges which has covered Botanic Park with feathers during WOMADelaide in the past.


Again, this performance showcased the multi-faceted skillset of the artists, Hilton Denis, who had his feet firmly on the ground during his tap act was now atop a pole. Ditto for David Marco more accustomed to slack rope, and Maria Moncheva, who while not unacquainted with aerial work, is not usually seen on these poles.


Limbo: The Return is a return to the extraordinary, engaging shows that Strut n Fret have put on over the years. Whether you saw the original Limbo or not, we highly recommend you go see Limbo: The Return. It had audiences engaged and on the edge of their seats throughout. Limbo: The Return is sexy, engaging, enchanting fun. If Limbo: The Return is a depiction of the place Limbo, where we wait to find out if we go to Heaven or Hell, it sure does look like a fun place to hang out.


Matilda Marseillaise was a guest of The Garden of Unearthly Delights 



WHAT: Limbo – The Return



The Spiegeltent, Garden of Unearthly Delights

Every night except Mondays from 15 February to 17 March 2024


The Spiegeltent Newcastle

From Wednesday to Sunday from 3 April to 5 May 2024


Buy your tickets for Adelaide via this link

Buy your tickets for Newcastle via this link



For more shows with French and Francophone links at Adelaide Fringe 2024, click here. To discover shows by artists who have trained at French clown schools, click here.

Reviews of other Adelaide Fringe 2024 shows:


I(ce) S(cream) Boléro Femme & The Other Side

Flamenco Electro

In pour taste: a comedy wine tasting



For events with links to France and the Francophonie happening all over Australia this month, click here.

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