First there was a Man. Then a Woman. Then in quick succession, two cats, a confused dog beast, and two kids. I stay at home with them. I'm the Man

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Circus Peanuts

I can admit to some provincialism now. Some sort of false air of superiority brought on by negativity, New England born mistrust of emotion (any emotions. Unless taciturn is an emotion.) and a dash of easy, widely acceptable, anti-French sentiment. But now that I've see it I can say with certainty: Cirque Du Soleil fucking rocks.

Caveat one: Our seats were great and the tickets were comps. I think I would've enjoyed it as much had I been the sort of person who could afford to spend that kind of money per ticket on an evening at the Cirque, but still, free helps.

Caveat two: There were times when the thematic artifice they employed wore a little thin, and it probably wouldn't stand up to a rigorous inspection. But in the end, when you have talented, bat shit crazy people who happen to be some of the best in the world at what they do doing it for your entertainment less than twenty feet away, who gives a shit about a little contrivance?

The Show is entitled Totem and from the website, the set-up is this:

"TOTEM traces the fascinating journey of the human species from its original amphibian state to its ultimate desire to fly. The characters evolve on a stage evoking a giant turtle, the symbol of origin for many ancient civilizations.
Inspired by many founding myths, TOTEM illustrates, through a visual and acrobatic language, the evolutionary progress of species.
Somewhere between science and legend TOTEM explores the ties that bind Man to other species, his dreams and his infinite potential."
I think the best advice comes from this review also via the website:
"Forget reality and let this magical world full of spectacular acts enchant you.", Amsterdam

Because what the set-up does is allow for a loose theme that ties the show together as well as some spectacular costumes and set pieces.

The show started with a big turtle shell style-- the big turtle being a popular beginning of the world myth-- tarp and when the tarp was lifted there was a sort of skeleton underneath filled with acrobats whose costumes and choreography were more than reminiscent of neon geckos. The tarp lifted and they all started doing crazy, in sync, acrobat type shit.

Also, did I mention that we only got two tickets? And that we couldn't find a babysitter because we've never hired one before because we're paranoid? My wife really wanted to go. Her sacrifice was great. I took the Peanut with me. I will dispense with the suspense right now and say that she loved it, that she behaved perfectly, that the show started at eight and got out at about 10:50, that we didn't get home until 11:30, and that she was awake and happy the whole time. If that's not an endorsement then . . . I will write some more endorsement.

There were two folks dressed as Native Americans who did work with hula-hoops that made the damn hula-hoop seem magical.  Complicated geometrical shapes, eagle wings, and nimble feet.

There was a live band that played the score to the whole thing. They were very good.. 

Our seats were close enough to be able to look into the performers' eyes and see them set themselves for each big stunt. We could see the emotion ripple under the composed surfaces of their faces. 

A troop of asian women came out riding ten foot high unicycles with stacks of bowls balanced on their heads which they proceed to place on their feet and kick to each other or back on to their own heads. This might have been my favorite part because on two of the bowl tricks, they missed. And the composure of the lead unicyclist, the unflappable nature of the entire group was amazing to see up close. They just did it again, man. Naked humanity. They may have gotten the loudest ovation of the night. 

Throughout there was a masked acrobat who dropped down from the ceiling, his costume bedazzled to the point that he became a human disco ball, and he would offer, I think, divine inspiration. At one point he passed what looked like a brightly glowing egg to some cavemen types and then a bunch of shit started to happen. This oval of inspiration showed up again and again throughout the show, as did the bedazzled muse being. 

There was a Darwin type "scientist " figure who did the oddest, coolest juggling act. He stood in what amounted to a giant, upside down, erlenmeyer flask, and slung brightly lit, color changing balls all over the damn thing. 

There was a troop of dudes who held 25 foot tall poles on their shoulders while other climbed them and did shit one should never do when 25 feet of the ground. 

There was a another troop who used three flexible balance beam type devices to do crazy feats of balance and courage all while said beams were being held on the shoulders of other troop members. 

There were space alien women who did some sort of spinning tricks with sparkly blankets which sounds horrible but was actually quite entertaining. We called them the Alien pizza twirlers. 

There was an act done on the rings by two very muscular men and one completely JACKED woman. This woman would eat T2 Linda Hamilton for breakfast. It's uncommon for a woman to be proficient at the rings at it's because most of them aren't built like She-Hulk.

There were two very good clowns. One who jabbered continuously in Itanglish and one who remained entirely silent. 

There was a retractable section of stage that extended and then bent backwards like a yoga teacher's spine.

There were trapeze artists that inhabited the trapeze like chimpanzees inhabit tree limbs.

In terms of contrivance, here's the most memorable example. Two canoes were "rowed" out onto the side of the stage. One held a Native American princess type, the other her erstwhile suitor.  She was sad and beautiful and when she stood up and stepped out of the canoe, she was wearing roller skates. Old school roller skates. She crossed to the middle of the stage laid down on a round platform that might've been 7' in diameter. Then the roller skate wearing suitor got out of his canoe, and they did a Sleeping Beauty riff. 

The act itself was awesome. The speed with which they whipped around on that tiny platform. All sorts of daring, figure skating type lifts and spins. But sad Native Americans in roller skates . . . it got to me. 

Really though, it was just a blip in an otherwise amazing evening. The only other oddity worth mentioning was that we sat next to the whitest, most reserved family in Massachusetts. Two guys around their 60's a women the same age, a couple teenaged grandchildren types, and maybe a mom. Most of the family made with the golf clap most of the night. The two men (I think  the one sitting next to the Peanut was actually San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovitch) kept their arms crossed the entire night. They both had looks on their faces like "these clowns think this shit is hard, try balancing the budget for an entire office floor of 75 people." 

I know how much those tickets cost. Crack a smile at least. 

The Peanut's favorite parts were the clowns and the troop on the bouncy balance beam type apparatus. 

"Daddy, tomorrow, we're gonna put on a show at home. We'll spread pillows all over the living room, and we'll get one bar for swinging and one for bouncing and I'll put on a show." 

While I did not spring for the bars, The Peanut did manage to cobble together quite the troop of hula hoopers at playgroup the next day.  "Daddy, watch. We're Citque Do Soleil!" 

"Yeah honey, that hula hoop stayed up for almost a moment. Great job,"

Thanks very much to Rochefort Associates for the tickets. They were much appreciated.

One of the advantages to having a ne'er do well musician as a parent was that I had access to a lot of experiences I never would've had otherwise. I met Bonnie Raitt and Buddy Rich. Saw lots of great shows, etc. 

Blogging has provided a touch of that for my kids. I guess what I'm trying to say is that any PR companies promoting any sort of performing arts in the Boston area, if you send tickets, I promise I will use them. I don't promise a good review, but at the very least a passionate, honest one. If you're not going to do it for the sake of promoting the show, then at the very least, do it for my children. Thank You. 

In other brief news: Over at DadCentric I tell one of my darkest secrets. Also over there, it's 30 days of Dads, and there are some really good bloggers, some well known, some not yet, putting up some really good posts. 

Finally, two of the most important posts I've read this month. One from a soldier who is dealing with being middle-aged and halfway home, and another about the sort of support the troops desperately need when they do get back




  1. We saw Cirque "Love" in Vegas. Gotta admit it is was scary good.

    And thanks for the linky love. And thank Mrs Homemaker for the blog comments. Love, love love ...

  2. Sounds like a wonderful evening!

  3. Oh, I love the description of the people next to you! I'm pretty sure your enjoyment was enhanced by having a totally uncynical 4-year-old with you. Myself, I wouldn't have been able to see much of it, what with covering my eyes with my hands and all...

  4. That sounds totally cool. Like, the trippiest story of Evolution EVER. Everyone I know who's seen that particular show says it's totally awesome, so screw those people sitting next to you.

    Now, we have to go back and talk about the Fear-of-Hiring-A-Babysitter thing.

  5. I want to go and see Cirque du Soleil like they did in Knocked Up.

  6. Mrs. Knucklehead and I absolutely LOVE Cirque du Soleil. We've seen Mystere, Varekai, Quidam, and Corteo. All fabulous.

    I met Buddy Rich too . . . he was a jerk. Great drummer, love his band . . . but still a jerk.


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