featured photo
The Kitchen
Brought to you by
Body Wrappers;
New York Flash Review Sponsor
the New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel for women and girls. Click here to see a sample of our products and a list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always
performance at its best.

Go back to Flash Reviews
Go Home

Flash Review 1, 12-12: OZmosis
Watch the Ceiling and Watch out for that Dog; Circus Oz Takes Manhattan

By Maura Nguyen Donohue
Copyright 2003 Maura Nguyen Donohue

New! Sponsor a Flash!

NEW YORK -- Five days short of its eight-year anniversary, the New Victory Theater reaffirmed its vital role as the city's only nonprofit theater dedicated to kids and family programs with the cheeky Aussies of Circus Oz. Saturday afternoon's performance was a benefit for the New Vic's Education and Youth Corps programs, chaired by Phoebe Cates Kline and Rita Schrager. Though Ms. Cates Kline was home with the flu that afternoon, husband Kevin, in full Falstaff busy beard for the Lincoln Center run of Henry IV, and their beautiful children made a strong showing of support amidst the rambunctious audience.

The show opens with a fiery bang as a row of drummers with flaming sticks pound out a rhythm on top of the riot of the company band. Flaming hula hoops and bicycle wheels round out the spectacular introduction. We meet an upside-down clown with a bit of gravity confusion who walks on the 'ceiling' of the theater. He eventually "climbs" down the pole to the stage before the company attacks the pole in a barrage of gasp-inducing displays of incredible inner thigh strength and coordination. More than once I swore one of the performers was shooting for a broken nose, sliding down the pole, head first, arms airplaned out only to stop at the last moment with a clench that would make any downtown dominatrix proud. Juggler Joel Salom accompanies the antics using his JAMIDI (Juggling Activated Musical Instrument Digital Interface); as he juggles balls against the sensors on his arms, a lively musical sequence ensues.

Tough broad Melissa Fyfe's interlude on the German wheel, that big contraption resembling a hamster-wheel, is pure magic, showcasing her unassuming strength and flexibility with plenty of exhilarating precariousness. A deceptively simple contraption, the wheel shifts from jungle gym to trapeze to swing set to tidal swell as Fyfe slides, drops, flips, surfs and suspends with all the hypnotic potency of a perpetual motion toy.

Six weeks into new motherhood, I was completely heartened by the display of playful power from the women in the company. Anni Davey supports any number of performers in any number of ways, including by dangling someone by her hair, and Ruby Rowat rushes past us with willful abandon on her swinging trapeze. I can't wait to bring my daughter to the New Vic during its 10-year anniversary season to instill images of flying bodies and people standing on each other's heads.

But the company provides plenty of rocking good fun beyond any nouveau feminist agenda. Matt Wilson's good-hearted boy scout gets shot from a cannon to earn his badge for world peace while Jim Dunlop provides just enough pithy political humor in his game-show narration, declaring the section's "weapons fabricated by Donald Rumsfield" to keep the parents in the audience on edge. Wilson must maneuver around the 'razor-wire of repression,' against the 'bodyguards of brutality' using the 'road-map to peace.' He flies through the air onto the crash-mat of human kindness (brought to us by George Bush Reloaded) and I'm dreaming of running away to join the circus just so I can experience a few seconds of what looks like a luxurious free fall.

Sosina Wogayehu does the rubber pretzel thing in an old school setting. As she bends herself backwards all the way through her legs, an accordion plays and she is rotated on a manually operated turntable surrounded by dim bulbs. Salom manages to get his jacket off and lose his pants and get them back on again without dropping a pin, and the only animal on the roster is a robot dog who likes to tell stand-up and piss on the audience.

Circus Oz continues at the New Victory Theater through January 11.

Go back to Flash Reviews
Go Home