Circus vs. Sideshow
A Whole Ruck Of Talent @ Bosco Theater
11:30pm, Thu 25 Feb 2010
So… one week ago I missed this show due to So You Think You Can Get F#%ked Up running amazingly late; this week I had another ticket, and Irene used but a fraction of her considerable charm to gain admission with my old ticket. As it turned out, Circus vs. Sideshow started bloody late too, so – if tonight was indicative – I probably could’ve made the show last week anyway.
But then I would’ve missed a fantastic session at the TuxCat, so it all worked out for the best, I guess.
Anyway: Circus vs. Sideshow is another of those ensemble events that allows a whole bunch of acts that are appearing at the Garden to get a little airtime, a little bit of paid advertising. It’s presented, as the title may suggest, in the form of a game show, with a trio of circus performers (the Dos or Duo pair, joined by a chap allegedly from Circus Oz) pitted against the sideshow freakery of The Dirty Brothers.
There were as many judges as contestants: the Sound and Fury guys manned one table, with Lady Carol and two of the Parasouls performers on the other. The emcees for the evening also stood either side of the circus / sideshow divide; Asher Treleaven, supporting the circus performers, opened proceedings with an amusing diabolo routine, attempting to appeal to the women in the crowd with sultry moves, then speeding things up for the action-oriented males. Sam Wills, lending his skills to the sideshow contingent, countered Treleaven’s opening by pulling a long, long, long string of tied-together balloons through his nose… in one nostril, out the other. Knots and all.
So – we were off to a pretty good start.
The opening round was labelled the “Skill” round. The circus lads did some great climbing and balancing routines; one of the Dirty Brothers responded by swallowing the bulk of a fluoro tube, then lighting it up. Not bad. The second round, “Random”, saw the Brothers ease off the spectacle – but not the quality – with a gorgeous little song played on the saw, matched by more balancing from the circus crew (accompanied by Treleaven’s favoured Top Gun theme).
In between rounds, Jess Love (from And The Little One Said) played the role of card girl, reluctantly displaying cards whilst wearing a tiny tutu, rollerskates, and a dismissive sneer. The power of that sneer cannot be understated; it was chock-full of utter contempt. Not just for her cohorts, but the audience, too.
The third round, “Spectacle”, lived up to its title. The Dirty Brothers trotted out two angle grinders and subjected one of them to a massive, mostly-nude, double-spark-shower – a real sight to behold in the darkened Bosco, the smell of burning metal heightening the experience. The Circus Oz lad performed a somersault off the top of a tall ladder, whilst holding a bowl of breakfast cereal (and milk, which was barely spilled), while he had a spoon up his nose (in classic blockhead tradition). Whilst this was a spectacular trick, it’s also the bit of the show that I liked the least… because it actually felt like the other performers were goading him into a trick he wouldn’t normally do.
The final round: “Challenge”. Both teams picked a member to lie on a bed of nails, and another member dropped a bowling ball on their stomach. The Dirty Brothers? That’s their bread-and-butter, that is, so no problems there. The Circus Oz chap volunteered to lie on the bed of nails – and, whilst the task was successfully performed, his back was a pincushiony, slightly bloodied mess when he stood up.
Of course, Jess Love “won” the competition, for being a sneering cardgirl – oh, and getting nude during her hoops routine. Which was nice. The judges, their involvement essentially pointless (except for Lady Carol’s great rendition of “Minnie the Moocher” on ukelele between rounds), appeared largely bemused by proceedings; certainly, the Sound and Fury boys looked utterly mystified in a “why are we here?” way at some points. But still, it was a great spectacle of a show, with a fair whack of variety and some seriously good skills on display… cheap, too, even if I did buy tickets twice.