Monday, May 26, 2014

SpeakEasy Circus Is In Residence at the A.R.T.'s Oberon - Return to the Roaring 20s

SpeakEasy Circus is now in residence on selected Friday nights through August at the A.R.T.'s Oberon at 2 Arrow Street in Harvard Square.  Produced by Boston Circus Guild, SpeakEasy Circus recreates the look and feel of a Roarin' 20s boite, serving up several different flavors of hooch and a variety of acts - from high flying aerialists to low comedy and vaudeville acts.

I was delighted at the diversity and quality of talent on display.  I was not aware that the local Boston circus talent was as accomplished and numerous as appears to be the case based on what I observed last weekend at Oberon. The evening is a pastiche of circus arts on display stitched together with a Mafia Maven from Revere - Perlie Dentemacchia - and her Henchmen, who turn out to be four very accomplished jugglers.

Live music was provided for some of the acts and before and after the show by the Oberon Rhythm Kings, led by Dutch Brewster (Chuck Lechien, Jr.).  Acts presented this past Friday included:
  • An opening dance number by the Oberon Socialites - a.k.a Vadalna Tribal Dance Company
  • Gina DeFreitas, aerialist
  • Benjamin Reynolds - Balancing Glass Balls with aplomb
  • Rocoo Lapaire & Ryan Freeze with remarkable feats of strength and paired balancing and tumbling.  Rocco returned in the second act with some solo feats of strength and balancing using a stationary Chinese pole.
  • Margot Price (Ellen Waylonis) - aerialist
  • Perlie's Henchman juggling in complex combinations of two, three and four persons - a.k.a A Different Spin
  • Marv Hackman, (Dale Stones), Gladys Stickleback (Dewie Decimator) and Edith Topplebottom (Busty Keaton) added some unexpected spice with some classic burlesque 
  • Bella Belle (Lolli Hoops) - burlesque hooping
Benjamin Reynolds
Photo by
Molly Tomlinson

This is not exactly a typical evening at the theater, at the circus, at a burlesque show,  at a night club, at a dance club, or at a Speak Easy - but it contains elements of all of these forms of entertainment  The directors have the performers using every possible inch of the Oberon performance space - stage, walk-ways, balcony, ceiling.

In terms of the overall impression of the evening, it was a fun time.  I found myself appreciating the circus acts in their purity, and could have done with less of the fluff and low humor that stitched together the acts.  But I also understand that this approach replicates to some degree the level of entertainment that was characteristic of the Roarin' 20s.

We have a lot of circus talent resident in the Boston area.  You have a chance to see them perform next at Oberon on June 27.



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