Monday, August 21, 2006

Circus Fun

It had probably been about twenty years since my last experience at the circus... and then I went twice this weekend.

Yes, indeed, ladies and gentlemen -- boys and girls -- I visited two different circuses on two different days in two different cities! And to say that there was a bit of a difference between the two experiences would be more than a bit of an understatement. It was the difference between night and day. Right and wrong. Good and bad.

On Saturday evening, Marci and I had the unique opportunity to visit the celebrated Cirque du Soleil on its second-to-last night in Amsterdam. And although we opted for the "restricted view" seats (which were much less expensive), we were absolutely enthralled by the performance. We had heard that the Cirque du Soleil was more like a Broadway musical or Las Vegas light show than a true "circus" -- and indeed we were impressed by the technical production, costume design, and stage engineering that went way beyond any three-ring circus from years gone by -- but the show (we saw their production entitled "Allegria") was much more like a genuine circus than we expected, actually. Trapeze artists, contortionists, jugglers, clowns, ringmaster -- pretty much everything except for the animals... But indeed, it was a fabulous show. I was particularly amazed by the contortionists and the manipulation artist (I had to look up the website to see what they called her); they were some ridiculously skilled performers. Almost inhuman. If you ever get a chance to visit the Cirque du Soleil, I would definitely recommend it...

However if you're thinking about visiting the Circus Herman Renz (the Dutch National Circus), I might suggest that you reconsider and choose in favor of a more worthwhile activity... Like clipping your toenails.

OK. So perhaps I'm being a bit too harsh -- and I was certainly set up for disappointment after seeing such a great performance the previous evening... But seriously, watching the Circus Herman Renz was like being transported back in time by fifty years. There was a certain charm and nostalgic appeal, and Elliot and Olivia were overjoyed by the elephants and lions and horses... but the quality of showmanship was poor, and the jokes were crass, and it was painfully obvious that the performers were all too human. The midget clown included cursewords and lewd gestures in his comedy acts. The trapeze artists had a few drops. The elephants managed one weak wave with a fore-foot. And that was about all there was to the show.

Certainly, the second circus served its purpose (Elliot was being rewarded for learning to read this summer, and he certainly enjoyed the Circus Herman Renz!). But if all the circuses are to be like that for the rest of my days, then I think I'll wait another twenty years before I take in another show...


At 9:41 AM, Blogger Sander Chan said...

I think a cursing clown is mor interesting than clipping my toe nails ;-)

At 4:08 PM, Blogger Eric Asp said...

More interesting, yes. But more worthwhile, no.


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