Thursday, November 13, 2008


There's magic blowing through the air. It might only look like flimsy pieces of paper "snow," and you can see the high-powered vent sending them through the theater in a Slava's Snowshow burst, can see the Sunday in the Park With George-level digital backdrop. But from the moment the first Cirque du Soleil performer slaloms down a hill, across an angled path center stage, and then back up a hill on the other side, you're a kid again, being utterly swept away. Wintuk is an aesthetic, intimate circus: there are no animals, and no high-flying acts. Instead, the focus is on the capacity of the human body to astound, whether through the first act's crazy gymnastic flips and acrobatic balancing acts or the second act's more subdued contemporary dances, the sort that make your single hula hoop seem lame, or shame you for not being able to climb a rope, let alone spin through the air and gyrate on one. It's also on the capacity of the human mind to imagine things: hence actors on stilts bring giant bird creatures to life, and bunraku artists lurk in the backdrop of giant ice golems that march across the stage as the actors sing foreign choral music. It is, admittedly, both an exciting and alien experience, and, as always, it is utterly spellbinding. Of particular note: a clever contortionist routine that gives new meaning to the word "rag doll" and an ever more precarious balancing act atop a tower of rolling pins. Of no importance: the plot, which introduces five breakdancing actors in dog costumes and a clown trapped in a garbage can. It's a whimsical breath of fresh air; go.

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