Circus in a Trunk
nytheatre.com review by Wendy Remington Bowie
December 3, 2010
In Circus in a Trunk, The Piccolini Trio presents a series of short clown pieces in which a trio of clowns—Joshua Shack as Joska, Joy Powers as Joyka,and John Stork as Sergio—entertain the audience through a series of bits inspired by items they find in a giant antique circus trunk.
I find as I try to describe the show specifically that to do so fully would spoil many of the surprises, turns, and magic I found so enjoyable about the experience of watching it fresh. Within the piece, they integrate juggling, very funny musical bits, a magical and funny piece about making paper dolls, a light dance, a music box that my daughter can't stop talking about, and a completely lovely finale that I must say I watched with baited breath. There is a spectacular and impressive surprise guest. There are some well worn classic bits that I have seen before, but it was lovely to watch my daughter see them for the first time with completely fresh eyes. Even if the Trio is not calling you up on stage or giving you a specific task, they are throughout the theatre and within the audience, and the nature of the show is that the audience is not a passive recipient, but a vital accessory to its creation. Without being invasive they ask for a good deal of active audience participation and the intimate venue makes it effortless to fully engage, which I found very exciting. The night we were there, my daughter was one of the only children there. But what was spectacular about the experience was that it demanded that everyone in the audience fully engage their sense of play and watch the piece as a child would. This is truly a show that is entertaining for all ages.
The performers are impressively nimble and responsive and it was a real pleasure to witness a performance that must be so wholly an experience unique to each particular audience. Shack, Powers, and Stork are completely endearing, endlessly entertaining and charming. The three work together as a wonderful ensemble and though many of the pieces are solos or duos, some of my favorite parts were seeing the three of them work together. Book Kennison was a lovely addition and added a jaw-dropping routine to the show.
I missed some of the introductory recording due to its low volume and my chatty young companion, so I may have missed a key piece of exposition, but I felt like not each of the pieces were fully tied into the intended premise. Though much of the show is circus-themed, my overall takeaway was not that this was the attempt of a trio of clowns to improvise one. Some of the conventions did not always feel as rigidly consistent as I expected, such as the clowns' status and relationships to each other. But these are very small quibbles as there was not a single moment in which I didn't fully delight, whether or not it made a completely consistent whole. The overall experience was still a magical one.
The venue is just lovely and so welcoming to young audience members. There are concessions that are irresistible to young audiences and some geared toward parents as well. The performers met the audience outside at the end of the performance and graciously indulged my daughter in high fives.
On our way out of the theatre my daughter asked, nearly before we were out the door, if we could see the show again the next night, and was despondent when I told her we wouldn't be able to see it again immediately. I can't say I blame her. We both had a fantastic time and I wouldn't hesitate to watch the show again. I don't think the opportunity could come soon enough in my kid's opinion.