Circus ReviewBy Alexandra Vaillancourt @ 7:00 AM May 04, 2012
Dateline Boston — The circus is in town! I went with my preschool, as I’ve done for the past fifteen years. We always get good seats. This year was no different. I sat to the left of the performers’ entrance so I could see when everyone came out.
The word I would use to sum up the circus this year is “bizarre.” There was no ringmaster. No mustached man in a tux and top hat welcoming us to the circus! Instead, a woman with cat-eye glasses and an orange beehive hairstyle flitted around and talked a lot. She didn’t announce anything really, just a bunch of words. She did have a fabulous outfit. I’ll give her that.
This year’s theme was about using one’s imagination. There was this big machine with a cap attached to it. When someone put the cap on, the audience could see what the person was imagining. A couple of kids were chosen from the audience to put the cap on. One girl went to the ring, but then didn’t want to participate. I felt bad for her. The show continued with a boy who did want to participate. He “imagined” freaky things.
One of the strangest parts was at the beginning of the show. A man brought out a life-sized dummy that was quite realistic; so much so that one of my kids asked, “Is she real?” I told her she wasn’t, just as the man started removing body parts from the dummy—first her arms, then her legs, then her head, which went flying across the ring. The audience cracked up, but I cringed. A couple of minutes later, and suddenly a real woman appeared—she was an exact replica of the dummy! “No, she’s not real…oh wait, actually she is!” I shuddered to think of what the kids in the audience were thinking. How confusing.
There were a lot of illusions in the show, but there wasn’t a cohesive flow. Sure, your imagination can think up all sorts of things. But I felt like I was in the brain of someone who was having a crazy dream. The blond dummy woman didn’t talk; she had an ear-piercing shriek she used to communicate. She could be funny, but mostly I was scared of her and her dummy self. At one point, her partner prepared the classic “saw the lady in half” box. I almost went out to get a snack; I couldn’t imagine small children watching that act. Turns out, they didn’t actually do it. She got in the box, then the man got a sword as if he were going to do the other classic, “stick a sword in a person and see that they don’t get hurt.” Again, they stopped just short of actually doing the act. Know what they did instead? Crushed the box flat, and showed how the lady was suddenly in the audience. “Shrieeeeek!” Funny for adults, creepy for kids.
Trying and Missing
The acrobats kept missing their marks. They wore outfits that vaguely resembled The Swamp Thing—it was like they were the offspring who hadn’t fully formed yet. I hoped they didn’t get in trouble for all the falling they did.
Somewhere in the middle of the show the beehive lady asked the us if we had seen the little girl whom she had picked out of the audience. Great, scary acts and a missing child. Could this get any better? It did, for a sec.
The lady who was in charge of the animal acts brought out a couple of dogs, then three exotic animals: a porcupine, a pot-bellied pig, and a capybara. What’s a capybara, you ask? No one else knew, either. I did, but that’s only because I love unusual animals. A capybara is the world’s largest rodent, related to the guinea pig. They live in South America. What this capybara was doing in a circus, I don’t know. Actually, his act was very cute. They brought out an old- fashioned microphone that had food smeared on it. They played a pop tune that had been sped up. When Capy licked the food off, it looked like he was singing. It really was funny. The porcupine stopped and peed on the ramp he was walking across. That was really funny, too. Those were my two favorite parts of the circus. Oh, and the part where I looked at my iPhone, and my friend Chris, sitting a couple of rows in front of me, had texted, “Hey, stop texting.” That was funny.
The last act was the trapeze. The girl who was lost suddenly appeared at the bottom of the trapeze net. Weird. Then these very bright lights appeared; they were blinding, so everyone was forced to look away. Which gave the lost, non-participating girl time to shed her outfit, reveal a uniform underneath, and climb the ladder to the top of the trapeze! She wasn’t a shy kid, she was a performer! Really weird.
The show ended, we all clapped, and I went around asking what everyone thought of the show. The kids loved it. One of them said, “There were horses!” Thank goodness he remembered the horses, unlike me, and not the headless crushed woman or the lost girl.
The circus was a dud for me this year, but that’s rare. I’ll go again next year—new show, new acts, and hopefully, all the performers will be real. If I don’t like it, I’ll go outside and get a hot dog.
Ms. Campbell may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org