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Sunday, December 15, 2019

The circus comes to town: Cirque Mechanics at New Victory

Battulga Battogtokh of Cirque Mechanics
in 42 Ft.--A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels

42 Ft.--A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels
by Cirque Mechanics
The New Victory Theater
December 6-January 5

Hailing from Las Vegas, Chris Lashua and Aloysia Gavre's Cirque Mechanics troupe has arrived at our city's family-friendly New Victory Theater with a production called 42 Ft.--A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels. (The measurement refers to the standard diameter of a circus ring.) Retrograde and wholesome, the show is a modest affair though, at nearly two hours with intermission, it might stretch beyond what most young kids would happily sit through, even some adults. Despite my own occasional squirming, I was charmed through most of the show and re-energized by fright at some of the dexterous aerial and slack wire work.

Impersonating a 1930s touring group named Circus Magnificus, the company eliminates the frills we might have come to expect from contemporary circus and just goes for feel-good basics, all the old-school sights and nostalgic sounds, but not without imagination. One of my favorite acts involved Tatiana Vasilenko dreamily juggling numerous balls while perched atop a wheeled chariot slowly "drawn" around the stage by a fetching cut-out horse--just one, and certainly the most benign, of the mechanical apparatuses alluded to the show's title and the company's name and reputation.

Justin Therrien combines low-key demeanor with exquisite physical skill as a wandering clown the troupe will eventually adopt. Mongolian strongman Battulga Battogtokh makes a believer out of the toughest skeptic when he handles weighty props with gusto and unexpected grace. There's even a lion tamer of sorts, though, in the blessed absence of trained animals, we must imagine a lion we will never see while Austin Bradley takes center stage, flourishing a stool and bullwhip. The show's only Black performer, Bradley otherwise has a minor presence in the lineup of acts. I was jarred by the crack of the bullwhip and the sight of it snapping and wrapping around his own body.

42 Ft.: A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels is recommended for ages 5 and up and continues through January 5 on a diverse time schedule. For information and tickets, click here.

The New Victory Theater
209 West 42nd Street (Times Square), Manhattan
(map/directions)

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DISCLAIMER: In addition to my work on InfiniteBody, I serve as Senior Curatorial Director of Gibney. The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views, strategies or opinions of Gibney.

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