nytheatre.com review by Maggie Cino
February 9, 2008
The arch, playful tone of the evening is set before the show even begins. In the blackness, a voice booms through the theater, "Please, leave your cell phones on. You never know who might be trying to reach you during the performance. Feel free to use flash photography, no matter how it may distract the performers. It is important to preserve this moment for you and your family . . . " And suddenly five performers barrel down the aisle and leap onto the stage, into an exuberant series of flips, dives, catches, drops, and counterbalances. The trust and love between them is almost physically palpable, and they perform the nightly show with all the joy of old friends meeting up after years apart.
The connection these performers have is so strong you can't help but wonder who they are, what's their story, where do they come from? And at the first break in action, they break out and tell you at least as much as you might learn from an online personals ad—first and last name, full date of birth, a few adjectives that describe them, and a personal anecdote (one of the performers quit smoking less than a year ago, one REALLY likes cereal, etc.). But this only leaves you with a desire to know more.
And you do learn more about them, but not just in a factual way. Watching these performers stretch themselves to the limit in performance teaches you more about them than anything they could tell you in words. Are Heloise and Bill dating? If not, their partner act shows love and trust deeper than most romantic pairs ever experience. Francisco and Rafael may look alike and share a last name, but when you see them toss and climb over each other you know for sure they're brothers. And Brad looks like the odd man out at first, but he's the glue that holds this team together—he's the one ready to catch the others if they fall, and is the unexpected standout in routine after routine. Towards the end, one of the characters makes a carefully framed personal revelation but it's very tongue-in-cheek, because nothing these people could tell you reveals more about them than what they bring to their performances.
The extraordinary level of skill on display and the genuine love of what they're doing creates an evening where you're always on edge but never in doubt. From death-defying pole-climbing routines to Brad spinning around in a giant metal hoop to Heloise's charming duet with an easy chair, the evening is a showcase of the ultimate potential of the human body.
The strongest material happens at the beginning of the show and the piece drifts a little in the last third as the gymnastics get less intense and the multimedia component increases. A reality show parody called "Infinity House" doesn't really take off, nor do the more traditional circus acts at the end. Still, the joy of the piece is spending time with the five members of the troupe, as performers and as people. And in the end, the irreverent enthusiasm, articulate and powerful acrobatics, and genuine friendship on stage leaves you with the feeling that all is good and life is possible.