Review: Isabella Rossellini's LINK LINK CIRCUS Delves Into The Minds of Animals

By: May. 07, 2019

Don't let the abundance of cuteness fool you. Isabella Rossellini's LINK LINK CIRCUS is one of the brainiest shows in town.

Review: Isabella Rossellini's LINK LINK CIRCUS Delves Into The Minds of Animals
Isabella Rossellini, Andy Byers and Pan
(Photo: Tristram Kenton)

"Welcome to the smallest circus in the world," announces our host, dressed in a somewhat abstract ringmaster getup. Though better known to the world as a model, actor and filmmaker, Rossellini is also a scholar in the ways of animal behavior and an activist for wildlife conservation.

The links that give her circus its name are the biological links between humans and animals and the theme of her 80-minute performance, more accurately described as a very entertaining lecture, is the capability of animals to think and feel.

Self-scripted and co-directed with Guido Torlonia, she delves into the teachings of Charles Darwin, B.F. Skinner and others to get into the heads of the creatures with which we share our planet, one of whom is her mixed breed dog Peter Pan (Pan to her more intimate friends), who models outfits provided by the show's costume designer, co-set designer (with Rick Gilbert), composer and sometimes stage companion, Andy Byers.

Her exploration covers a variety of creatures. She demonstrates how audio recordings of birds in different situations strongly suggest specific communications. She tells of a chimpanzee who, after being regularly pampered and groomed, treated her offspring similarly.

A good deal of time is spent discussing how humans have selected the traits they prefer in animals to breed plumper chickens, white-woolled sheep and domesticated wolves, or dogs.

Review: Isabella Rossellini's LINK LINK CIRCUS Delves Into The Minds of Animals
Isabella Rossellini and Pan
(Photo: Brigitte Lacombe)

Numerous animated videos are used, often featuring Rossellini's smiling face on an animal body. The showstopper is definitely the short feature showing how female ducks select which males to reproduce with by flexing their vaginas to guide corkscrew-shaped penises to either ready-to-be-fertilized eggs or to empty chambers.

And speaking of fertilization, Rossellini herself has been recently honored with type of beetle with an unusually long penis named after her.

Though animal have historically learned behaviors taught by humans, our host explains that conclusive evidence of how much thinking is involved remains to be discovered. Nevertheless, it's been a long-proven fact that humans will react with delighted applause and laughter when exposed to shows as charming and intellectually stimulating as LINK LINK CIRCUS.