YOU’LL BE DOING FLIPS FOR CIRCA: WUNDERKAMMER
Tonight, I had the pleasure of seeing the premiere of Circa: Wunderkammer at The Curve Theatre. The show was full of exciting twists and turns (pun intended) and was a definite crowd pleaser. This fact can’t be disputed since I was sometimes unable to hear the accompanying soundtrack over the oo’s, ah’s, and applause of the audience members surrounding me.
The performance was full of totally cool and radically impressive stunts. At one point one man was balancing the weight of five people as they either stood on him, stood on the person standing on him, or clung onto his sides. Needless to say, this show is not for the easily terrified. The men and women shared the weight-bearing roles and there were many same-sex acts throughout the production.
The show was sexy, yes, but not in the ways one might imagine. Although you see half-naked beautiful people contorting their bodies in ways only Cosmo talks about, what I found sexiest about the performance was the intimacy between the performers. The levels of trust each performer had to bestow onto his or her partner was unbelievable. At times it was be caught or snap your neck, which always makes for a thrilling experience.
There were some very interesting stylistic choices made by the choreographer. At one point in the performance, a song came on that instantaneously took me back to days in my brothers’ room playing Nintendo 64. The beeping and booping sound effects seemed out of place in the production until the performers engaged in an act involving hula hoops, making it feel like we were watching a video game live in the flesh as the expert tried to fit as many hula hoops on her body as possible while wriggling about, each catch in tune with the sound effects from the gaming song. It added a contemporary and digital aspect to the performance.
The most interesting and human of the performance, in my opinion, was the strip tease. When you think of a strip tease, you probably imagine the accompanying song being something along the lines of Beyonce’s “Partition” or Britney Spears’ “I’m a Slave 4 U” – not Peter Gabriel’s “Book of Love”. We watched for three beautifully vulnerable minutes as a ripped man slowly and intimately took off his clothes on a trapeze bar. The accompanying song made it feel like I was watching my long-time lover strip just for me – there was nothing animalistic about it. The most noteworthy stylistic choice of this particular act was when the graceful performer almost-spastically shook off his pants instead of delicately removing them like he did with the rest of his clothes; it spoke to the perfect imperfections of the human experience. After all, we’re humans, not graceful doe.
My conclusion is that Circa: Wunderkammer finds a way to unite intimate vulnerability with jaw-dropping tricks that leaves members of the audience with a smile and underlying sense of togetherness. The production finds a way to make itself about more than the amazing capability of human bodies (and the talent of the performers), and that is something worth talking about.