Review: Cirque Mechanics' 42FT—A MENAGERIE OF MECHANICAL MARVELS is Small In Size But Big On Personality

By: Dec. 21, 2019
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As usual, the family-focused New Victory Theater was packed with kids the afternoon this reviewer took in the charms and delights of Cirque Mechanics' 42FT-A MENAGERIE OF MECHANICAL MARVELS, but you won't need the little ones around to have a great time at their display of strength, acrobatics and humor that's small in size but big on personality.

42FT - A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels
Tatiana Vasilenko (Photo: Maike Schulz)

With their show named for the diameter of a standard circus ring, the troupe cavorts on set designer Sean Riley's turntabled version of classic big top arena, dressed by designer Caroline Rogers in garb that suggests the costumes of the early decades of the 20th Century in a swift and enjoyable production mounted by the company's founding creative director Chris Lashua and co-director/choreographer Aloysia Gavre.

The scenario that ties the acts together has a sweet-natured hobo played by mime/clown Justin Therrien longing for the glamour of circus life, especially since there's an obvious attraction between he and the graceful slack-wire artist played by Esther De Monteflores.

The audience can see the funny fellow's talent in a fun routine where he struggles to move a suitcase that appears firmly positioned in mid-air, no matter how hard he tugs at it, and where he brings an adult audience member onto the stage to train for a duo juggling/balancing act. The ringmaster takes pity on him with a job pasting posters onto a wall, which hilariously goes disastrously. But take heart, the clown eventually proves himself a valuable member of the company by revealing a surprise talent for sword swallowing.

Strongman Battulga Battogtokh flashes a million dollar smile as he juggles bowling balls with ease and twirls a lengthy log all around his body before hoisting it up on his shoulders and carrying colleagues who sit on swings at both ends.

42FT - A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels
Esther De Monteflores (Photo: Maike Schulz)

There are no live animal acts, but Tatiana Vasilenko juggles on top of a wheeled wooden horse and Austin Bradley cracks a whip while miming an animal training routine.

As suggested by the company's name, acrobatics involving mechanical devises provide opportunities for Brysen Bishop, Brooke Neilson, Michael Rubino and Taylor Stevens to maneuver about a revolving ladder and for Bishop, Neilson, Stevens, Austin Bradley and Max Wesley Hatfield leap and tumble from a Russian swing.

The intimacy of the historic 1900 showplace, a two-balcony theatre opened by Oscar Hammerstein in 1900, perfectly adds to the period design of Cirque Mechanics' energetic merriment, making 42FT not only a wondrous display of strength and skill, but a bit of a time traveling jaunt as well.

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