Circus 1903—The Golden Age of Circus | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader
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click to enlarge Elena Gatilova in Circus 1903--The Golden Age of Circus

Elena Gatilova in Circus 1903--The Golden Age of Circus

When: March 22-26 2017
Price: $16-$80
In town for a brief stand, this touring show is an odd, endearing amalgam. On the one hand, it's a legit circus adapted for big proscenium theaters, with acts ranging from the respectable to (in the cases of aerialist Elena Gatilova, juggler Francois Borie, and contortionist Senayet Asifa Amare, whose disconcerting dislocations suggest a human CGI effect) the exceptional. On the other hand, it conveys a homespun intimacy, mainly through David Williamson, playing the ringmaster as the gentle but mischievous grandpa you wish you had. The two aspects come together in life-size mother-and-son elephant puppets—works of sophisticated engineering covered in what looks like plain, loose-weave burlap. One bit of advice to Williamson, though: You might want to soft-pedal the pretense that the show is being performed at the Oriental Theatre in 1903. For one thing, the Oriental didn't exist then. For another, the venue on that site was the Iroquois Theatre, which burned down in 1903, killing 602 people. —Tony Adler

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