While "Khmer Metal" is thoroughly modern in its setting and storytelling, the group's "Eclipse" show is steeped in tradition, drawing from folk stories, religion and popular beliefs to tell the story of a bullied hunchback, rejected by villagers, who seeks divine intervention from an angel-like Apsara, the celestial maiden who graces Angkor temple walls.
Wearing the simple black garb of rural peasants and using few props, the artists perform elaborate acrobatics and audacious stunts, forming human towers to strike Apsara poses, doing somersaults in flight and executing an impressive aerial strap routine.
In between acts, they do a spirited, high-energy dance to the upbeat rhythms of the traditional xylophone, guitar and drums.
As clever as it is, it's ultimately uplifting fun, the energy and enthusiasm of the artists contagious.
What also makes Phare special is that it's distinctly Cambodian -- the music, dance, settings, themes and stories provide an insight into Cambodian culture and everyday life difficult to experience scrambling about ruins -- or drinking beers on Pub Street.
Phare Cambodian Circus
Tickets (adults/kids $15/$8) available for daily 7:30 p.m. shows from 7p.m. at Phare Cambodian Circus, Komay Road, Siem Reap and from local travel agents.
Backyard Travel offers a two-day, behind-the-scenes Phare Circus Experience for $482 including rehearsals, dinner at Phare Café, the show, meeting performers afterward, a cruise to Battambang to visit the PPS school, meals, hotels and transfers.