Behind the Big Top: “Midnight at the Midway”

Presented by The Boston Circus Guild

August 20 – 27, 2015
The Oberon
2 Arrow Street, Cambridge MA
Boston Circus Guild on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Cambridge, MA) I’ll cut to the chase on this one: the only reason not to go see Midnight at the Midway is if you’re allergic to fun.

The Boston Circus Guild is an incredible group of dynamic performers.  They are charismatic, engaging, enchanting, and a bit haunting in this throwback to the Victorian circus.  The stage is set; it’s the last night of Circus Chimera’s existence.  At midnight, the cast of characters who make up this wacky gang of rag tag carnies will “vanish”.  The clock is (literally) counting down their hours.  Enter: you!  You are invited to be a part of this final evening.  As you walk into Club Oberon, you’re immersed in the environment with the cast lazing, lounging, and dancing about.  Find a moment to speak to each of them; they won’t bite.

Then grab a drink and strap in.  Since it’s the “last night of the circus”, all the performers are raring to sing their swan song.

I’ll admit it: I’m a little bit of a circus freak.  Every time Barnum & Bailey are in town, I’m the first in line for tickets.  I’ve seen more Cirque de Soleil shows than episodes of The Jersey Shore (….not that that should be a universal measuring stick, but it’s at least somewhere to begin conceptualizing).  For all that (and a lifelong affinity towards elephants), I very rarely have the opportunity to see these acts up close and personal; and there’s not much more personal you can get than Oberon.  Aerial silk, lyra hoop, rope acts, human balancing acts, juggling, contact juggling, whip cracking… this show will have you so immersed in the action that you’ll feel like you owe it dinner afterwards.  Pro tip: if you’re handed a flower by Lucea the conjurer, you’re in for a snappy good time.

One very clever method of crowd management that the Guild employed was the “wheel of fun”; a wheel of fortune style wheel that the performers would periodically spin and everyone in the audience would be asked to perform the feat listed on the selected slice.  These feats range from “freeze” to “handstand” (….only those who were physically capable of handstands were asked to do one).  In creating a simple prop and diverting audience focus to it at key moments, the Guild was able to keep the action of the performance going without adding too much “bulk”.  While acts were striking or setting up, or the performers were taking a much-needed breather, there was still something interesting and engaging going on to hold audience focus.  Nice job, team!

For once, this crotchety reviewer has nothing negative to say.  I got to drink my dissertation (one of the themed drinks was “The Barnum” which, guess what, is chapter two), I marveled at some incredible entertainment, and I got to be a strong man if only for a fleeting moment (…there may or may not be Instagram evidence of this #mmidway).  I would go back to see this show in a heartbeat and I heartily recommend that everyone else do the same…. Before the clock strikes midnight and the whole beautiful, fleeting vision disappears.

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