Edmond Chibeau looks at performance and theatre from the avant-garde communication perspective

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Location: Mansfield, Connecticut, United States

Monday, August 28, 2006

Cirkus Inferno review by Edmond Chibeau

Canadian Cirkus Inferno Heats Up the House
Edmond Chibeau

On November twenty-first (2004) the Daredevil Opera Company blew the roof off the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. Every zany, Comedia del arte, Punch and Judy, baggy pants comedian, slapstick, burlesque, Hellzapoppin’ vaudeville, knockabout comedy, time tested crowd pleaser that has ever been out on tour was crammed into a fifty-minute non-stop inferno of hilarity.

The Pulcinella character, Roxanne, was a comic genius. Once she put her roller skates on she kept them on for the whole show and never seemed to slow down. As she lost her balance on the skates, which seemed to be about every thirty seconds, her extremities would fly out in every direction. While her arms and skate-clad feet where trying to escape from her torso she somehow managed to beat out a constant rhythm with her skates on the floor of the stage. The audience was horror struck, watching for what must surely be the most calamitous fall from roller skates ever taken by human kind. And did this preternaturally balanced clown on steel wheels ever fall? You’re doggone right she did! She fell with thunderous crashing, skirts up, with feet waving in the air, with over-the-top hilarious regularity. No low comedy trope was left unturned.

Roxanne Rolls is dynamite in a short skirt. The group hails from Canada and the skate girl must buy her underwear at Fredrick’s of the Yukon. A six year old seated near the front, commanded her father, who was describing the event to others to, “say what the woman did, because she was really funny.”

The troupe consists of three performers, Roxanne Rolls, her partner, Rocket Johnny, The Human Cannonball, and the Assistant Manager who tries unsuccessfully to keep a lid on things. Rocket Johnny risked life and limb fighting with the Hound of Hades, a combustible canine with one body and three heads. This ferocious dog breathed fire, growled like an earthquake, and rattled his chain, yet somehow remained unseen. The rocket powered, flaming pogo stick that Rocket Johnny rides is every child’s dream and every parent’s nightmare.

The performance is aimed at kids and it works. It is as if the Daredevil Opera Company pulled the time tested comic bits from all of world theatre, from the “Late Comedy” of ancient Greece to children’s television of the Twenty-First Century to create a new and thoroughly enjoyable circus inferno for children of all ages.

Oh by the way, did I mention the exploding whoopee cushion? Well never mind, some things are better left unsaid.

Don’t expect children to be calm after this performance and don’t expect them to stop talking about it. You will get your money’s worth of laughter, pratfalls and pyrotechnics in this high energy, low comedy.