The Man In The Mail

Inspired by some lesser known writings of the great novelist, poet and playwright, Jules Verne, The Man in the Mail tells the story of a lovelorn fellow who decides to send himself by freight to China in order to pursue his paramour. He’s soon discovered and, instead of spending his days in a Chinese prison, he becomes a celebrity travelling from place to place telling his tale and performing remarkable circus stunts. The only catch is that he has to always travel in his box.

It’s a beautiful story well told by an unreliable narrator.

Created and performed by Joshua Philips, one quarter of international circus company Pants Down Circus and one half of the Circus Firemen, The Man in the Mail is more theatre than circus. Philips, in the titular role directly addresses the audience, telling possibly tall tales of exploits from exploring the Amazon to being marooned upon an iceberg and he uses each of these stories as a framing device for some truly spectacular feats of balance and poise.

This is a sweet and intimate theatre piece that celebrates the true skill of the performer and is almost a love-letter to the experience of touring a show. The direction by Aurora Kurth is suitably restrained in all the right moments, leaving the bombast for the tricks. Philips plays the role with a wide-eyed enthusiasm and knows the value in making a trick look difficult in order to draw in the audience before the final flourish for the inevitable applause.


The Man in the Mail is a unique performance of circus theatre and highly recommended for fans of quirky Victoriana with a steampunk aesthetic. It’s a beautiful story well told by an unreliable narrator and isn’t the best type of story?

Reviews by Frodo Allan

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

WINNER: BEST CIRCUS Melbourne Fringe 2017. Meet the man who lives in a box and travels the world by mail. An adventure tale inspired by the outlandish stories of science fiction writer Jules Verne, this is a mash-up of steampunk and circus that takes you to the limits of your imagination. Witness the extraordinary voyages of a circus showman. See the incredible circus feats he has performed all over the world. Hear the amazing tales of his adventures traveling the globe, from the depths of the Amazon rainforest to the freezing Arctic Circle.

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