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Flash Review, 3-16: Shakin' Bacon
Breaking Beyond Circus Tricks

By Angela Jones
Copyright 2001 Angela Jones

Chelsea Bacon is onto something. Physical virtuosity that is successfully integrated into a dramatic story is a rare accomplishment, but there are no wasted movements in "Breaker," playing at Dixon Place this and next weekend. What makes this aerial fairy tale particularly captivating is that Bacon & Co. do not rely on the aerial work (which employs everything from ropes to fabric and trapeze to hoop -- even a hanging chair) to hold the audience's attention. Every physical feat moves the narrative along, and every character has her own particular way of moving through the air.

"Breaker" flows along so smoothly that one can miss the close attention paid to all the artistic aspects of this work. Live music sung and played by Rachelle Garniez and company (written by Franz Nicolay) is as varied as the scenes, playful and funny, poignant or mystical. The set and lights by Kyle Chepulis open up the tiny space of the Vineyard 26 theater, leaving no bit of air or ground unexplored. Especially delightful are the costumes by Kiva Kahl and Britt Nhi Sarah, allowing each aerialist to transform completely from staid townsperson to Bohemian circus performer.

Considering all the technical aspects of this show (the raising and lowering of apparatuses, the work with live musicians, the constant changing of costumes), that the transitions happen as easily as they do is a tribute to all involved. "Breaker" is not a completely neat little package, however. My companion commented that although it ended in an almost predictable manner, there were enough quirky moments (like the devilish little ditty about one circus person's desire to snack on babies, or the crush a townie has on a circus girl) and plot tangents to keep the audience guessing.

In the end, it isn't really the story itself which seems paramount, but rather the passion, skill and artistry underneath it. Even if I hadn't had the pleasure of collaborating artistically with Chelsea, I know that from the audience's reaction alone, it is evident how purposeful each trick, wink of the eye, lyric, or sigh really is.

"Breaker" will be performed again this and next Friday at 8 p.m., and this and next Saturday at 3 and 8 p.m. The Vineyard is located at 309 East 26th Street.

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