by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM
The Florida State College at Jacksonville Artist Series is presenting Neil Goldberg’s fascinating Cirque Dreams Illumination, running through Sunday, February 20 at the Times Union Center in downtown Jacksonville.
If you like Broadway shows and circus acts, then you will indeed be totally thrilled at the two-hour production that combines both, in this unique show that is sure to please everyone from five to ninety-five
The show opens with a ceiling-to-floor curtain that shows the skyline at sunset of an unidentified industrial city, with a train platform in the foreground. The curtain rises and we are suddenly in a colorful underground station, framed with girders and artistic graffiti in the background. A singing TV news reporter is the narrator and guide in the world of pedestrians and workers in this busy city. There are several songs, all wonderfully sung by Emily Mattheson, one of only two Americans in the production. The other is Marybeth Kern, a terrific street musician and saxophonist.
The cast is truly international, from countries like China, Russia, the Netherlands, the Ukraine, Mexico, Germany, Mongolia, Latvia and Brazil. You will see world class aerialists, high-flying contortionists and tight-rope walkers perform extraordinary feats. Be prepared; you will be applauding a lot all evening long.
There are twenty-two different scenes in the show and if you polled the audience afterward, everyone would have their own favorite. The Dual Critics agreed that the opening act was sensational. Entitled “Change,” Jefferson Alexandre and Anastasiia Kriukova performed many amazingly quick changes of elaborate clothing. This act alone was worth the price of admission. We have no idea how they were able to pull it off.
Other unique acts included a wire walker and cube aerialists, who managed to have four artists dangle simultaneously from a suspended cube.
Amazing balancing acts kept us on the edge of our seats, as a very tall sailor tottered precariously on eight chairs stacked to the ceiling, and an everyday painter balanced on paint cans.
“Right to Remain Silent” was change of pace from all the marvelous displays of physical prowess and coordination. As a silent movie director, Martin Lamberti used only a whistle and mime skills to create a very comic short film using four pre-selected audience members as the cast.
The evening was filled with unexpected visual scenes. For example, while a couple did a routine on roller skates on a round platforms six feet in diameter, four headless men in snazzy zoot suits walked around on stage as if out for an afternoon stroll.
The costumes complimented the urban vibe, as they were indeterminate in period and ranged from sturdy work clothes and fitted athletic tanks and tights to flowing gowns.
There is a lot of energy in this show, and never a dull moment as you are always wondering what is up next. As a side note, the sound track and the excellent lighting will capture your imagination as you gasp at this remarkable display of what the human body can perform.
You will walk out asking yourself over and over “How did they do that?” You can order tickets on line at www.artistseriesjax.org, 24 hours a day or call (904) 632-3373.
CIRQUE DREAMS ILLUMINATION
by DICK KEREKES & LEISLA SANSOM