by MIKE CHAIKEN
I am not a connoisseur of circus entertainment.
I’ve interviewed lots of circus performers. But, I can count the number of circus type performances I’ve seen on one hand.
I’m not adverse to the world of circus. I just had few opportunities to indulge into that artform.
So when I arrived at the Fox Theater Saturday, Aug. 15 to see Cirque Eloize’s “iD,” I told my guest that I didn’t know what to expect and how I would necessarily feel about the show as a critic. I was going in blind.
I had interviewed two associates of Cirque Eloize, so my interest was piqued, however.
And I’m happy to say after the performers took their final bows, I was completely blown away.
(By the way, I will try hard in this review to avoid spitting out spoilers so the surprises remain surprises.)
One of the first dimensions of the show that impressed me is that this truly an ensemble piece. Yes, there are plenty of moments when the individual talents of the performers are showcased—the acrobats, the trick cyclist, the jugglers, and so on… But, also, the performers show their deftness at other skills. Just keep your eyes out for the stunts involving the jump ropes or the one involving the trampolines.
The ensemble is small, but often times all hands were on deck for the segments.
Another dimension of “iD” that impressed was the amount of energy exuded on stage. In this regard, the creators were wise in setting the performances in an urban environment. The hip-hop performance elements and the bass thumping music for some of the acts kept the pulse racing. The audience was clearly engaged from beginning to end. And the urban environment allowed the show to offer not only the usual circus elements but some first class dance performances. This meant there was something for everybody in “iD.”
The show also offered up that thrill we all experience in watching something teetering on the edge of disaster. Although it’s a circus, and you know that these are professionals and that any possibility of danger has long been rehearsed out of the performance, there were still those moments where you gasp… is this a disaster about to occur.
It’s kind of a morbid fascination on the part of humans. And Cirque Eloize mined it effectively.
There were several times when my and my guest’s breath slowed to a glacial pace and we clenched our arm rests as we thought to ourselves, “Will he/ she really be able to do it?”
Also, it was clear the performers were pushing themselves. There were times, where you could tell something had gone awry (but the performers kept right moving on their trajectory). Mistakes are more likely to happen if you are willing to test your limits rather than playing it safe. So it was good to see a minor misstep here and there. This meant the show meant as much to the performers as it did to the audience.
At the end of the evening, as the nearly packed house rose to their feet to applaud Cirque Eloize, I clearly had enjoyed myself. And my guest and I spent the ride home gushing over what we had seen.
I may not be a frequent consumer of circus entertainment… but I know what I like. And I loved Cirque Eloize’s “iD.”
I give Cirque Eloize’s “iD” four out four stars. Performances continue at Foxwoods through Aug. 30. Performances are held each day of the week except for Mondays. For more information, go to Foxwoods.com.