Illusion is stuff of 'Cirque Dreams'
Pleasant diversion fancies itself as big-top entertainment
''Cirque Dreams" is a modest little art circus from Florida that has settled into the Shubert Theatre through the weekend. It doesn't live up to its own pretensions. (''A happening. A new perspective, integrating into our lives. Physically, emotionally, aesthetically, culturally.") Maybe nothing could, but Cirque Dreams does provide a couple of hours of pleasant entertainment.
The ancestor is Cirque du Soleil, which operates on a larger scale, and on a larger budget. There is a mildly surrealistic story line about a fellow named Ringabella who sleepwalks through a grandfather clock into an enchanted village in which magical and surprising things occur. The cast often cavorts under ultraviolet light, costumed in a flashier version of glow-in-the-dark pajamas. The village is part Chagall, part comic book, part graffiti, and all illusion, as we see at the end, when the techies turn off the projectors, and we see the blank white screens.
The circus acts depend on feats of strength, balance, and showmanship rather than on expensive equipment and high-tech rigging. Mongolian contortionists Buyankhishie and Erdenesuvd Ganbaatar get themselves into double twists that are so complicated you can't tell which part of who is where, only it must hurt. Elise Barbeau and Véronique Rivet create similar effects suspended from a high trapeze.
Yevgen Vilkovskyy performs complicated hand balances on top of a growing tower of upended chairs. Victor Dodonov is as good with his feet as Vilkovskyy is with his hands; he balances himself on a board on top of a tower of cubes and rolling metal cylinders. A team of three Russians, of advancing size and beefiness, agilely maneuver themselves into bizarre codependent, gravity-defying positions that they prolong statuesquely.
The acts are bridged by heavily amplified recorded pop-ish music, some of it embellished by live singing from Maria Moncada, who had a couple of hits back in the 1980s. There is also a fair amount of prancing around by subsidiary mime figures, who sometimes create distractions from the main performers. They do have their moment, though, when they spin large three-dimensional metal triangles and cubes that under the ultraviolet light look like computer screen savers.
Martin Lamberti proves a dexterous juggler of boxes, but his other routine involves pulling people out of the audience to play tuned temple bells to his manic conducting.
This goes on way too long. Although holding members of the paying public up to ridicule is an old circus trick, it is a tiresome one. Don't buy a seat on an aisle.