Eclectic Circus Lacks Mystical Quality Of The Average Circus
Colorful balls and different-sized hoops flew across Wilder Main last Thursday, but by the end of the evening, the show had turned from fresh and original to ordinary and stale.
Trying to live up to its title, the Eclectic Circus began with a monologue by performer Aaron Bonk. He was dressed in circus-like garb, most noticeably a tuxedo jacket covered in a bright array of ties. The night seemed promising as he rapped about “bending our minds” from normal, everyday existence. There was only one other entertainer, contradicting the advertisement which depicted the group as a four-person troupe.
Vincent Polowy performed the first act. Dressed as a homeless clown, Polowy talked to the audience in a gruff voice and attempted to draw sympathy for the “traveling performer.” The character was not particularly interesting, save being a fun and loveable man with a taste for sperm and condom jokes.
Not entirely banal, Polowy set up the evening with some worthy ideas about performing live and respecting such entertainment. It seemed like his act, however, was tailored for an audience of middle schoolers, complete with road kill and fart jokes tastelessly delivered.
One of the night’s redeeming acts followed as Bonk displayed ball juggling talents that were impressive and, more importantly, original. He was able to skillfully use up to five spheres in his display of contact juggling. Bonk continued with standard juggling, but he employed a variety of twists including full arm sweeps, thigh and foot kicks and multi-ball throws.
Later, while escaping a straightjacket, Polowy described to the audience how Houdini is said to have been able to dislocate his shoulder, which would have made Polowy’s escape considerably easier. Polowy was nowhere near graceful; he had more of a tug-of-war match with the thick material and leather straps than a slick escape.
Onstage yet again with mildly entertaining banter, Polowy repeated self-deprecating insults about how audiences love to see him and his colleagues risk their health. He then performed his next stunt, walking and jumping over a mat covered with broken glass. The feat was unquestioningly impressive, but the sell and overall delivery left something to be desired.
Polowy later performed a similar bed-of-nails stunt. He laid face-up on a board with 475 nails sticking out of it. An audience member then proceeded to stand on Polowy’s chest, which was a taste of magnificence.
Perhaps the funniest moment of the evening came when Bonk introduced his bullwhip act of slicing a rose held in somebody’s mouth. He described how whips work: The motion causes the end of the whip to move so fast it creates a sonic boom, breaking the sound barrier. He asked the crowd what the speed of sound was, and when nobody answered definitively, he replied, “Of course you don’t know; this is a liberal arts college!”
While some of the acts performed by the Eclectic Circus were truly impressive, the aftertaste was not pleasing. Circuses have a certain feel to them, and their performers do not break character while aiming to present a show of mystical proportions. This aspect was promised but not delivered as the two men insisted on repeating child’s humor and on leaving the circus mentality completely behind.