Cirque Mechanics Boom Town October 13, 2010
By Glen Creason
After several visits to Cirque du Soleil and other spin-offs of the animal-less circuses that proliferated in the 80’s and 90’s I kind of had my fill of the grand-scale whimsy of these performances. The multi-colored lighting, the noodling mood music, the aerial daredevilry, the oddball clowns and the obtuse presentation began to blur a bit. It’s not that they weren’t incredible and enjoyable for all ages but they ceased to enchant me as they did when I first took my kid back in the day. My whimsy-meter was on empty.
However, the unique splinter of the Cirque themes called Cirque Mechanics took over the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts at midweek and pretty much removed unnecessary whimsy and replaced it with down home acrobatics. All this amongst a backdrop that is as relatively plain as the 1860’s gold mining camp they call Boom Town in this show. It’s not really a redneck circus or some bowl of corny camp as you might suspect from the lobby cards. Instead the review presents a mixture of clowning, exuberant acrobatics and some amazing machinery that gives the tricks an extra dimension. The troupe is smaller and the sets simpler but the ability and charm of the performers pans out as pure gold in this show. There are three main components to the show and they are evenly spread out over the ninety-minute experience that is lots of fun for those on both sides of the footlights. There are stunts that involve juggling and balancing tricks that raise pulses including one heady segment by Tex Redinger that involved drawers and corn liquor jugs stacked four high. Charlotte Greenblatt balanced on four raised lozenges with strength that would be admired in any weight room and also performed as a ballerina on a raised platform. Elena Day was the clown in residence and several of her routines brought genuine horselaughs and added much needed comic relief after spine-tingling acrobatics. She also ventured into the crowd and took a poor unsuspecting civilian up on stage used him as a prop, albeit good-naturedly. Those same acrobatics formed the core of the show and were absolutely wonderful throughout. The really great ingredient to the carefree aerial hi-jinks was the obvious joy of the performers including Timber Brown, Wes Hatfield, Andre Nurse, Kerren McKenna and Lindsey Orton-Hines who literally and figuratively made it look easy. I can assure you it was not when you consider some of these maneuvers took place twenty or thirty feet above the stage and without any safety apparatus in sight. They bounded repeatedly off of trampolines centered on ore carts, climbed ropes to the ceiling using mostly their feet and swung with precision near the top of the stage. The highlight of the acrobatics was the duel wonders of an upside down bicycle control of a moving trapeze that swung young ladies out over the orchestra seats where the crowd stared upward with mouths agape.