Saturday, July 14, 2012

“Wear It Like A Crown” - Uneasy Are The Ones That Watch

By Judd Hollander
Photos by Jack Vartoogian

Wear It Like A Crown, presented by the Swedish troupe Cirkus Cikör at the Brooklyn Academy of Music is, as explained in the show program notes, all about risk taking. Risking one's life and limb, the risk of looking stupid when you're performing and the risk of having one's heart broken over and over again - as one of the troupe demonstrates continually via her sad countenance and broken hearted airs while exiting the stage multiple times during the first part of the show. Yet despite some rather interesting stunts and acrobatics, the entire experience never really takes off, becoming more of a "circus light" affair rather than anything truly amazing.

The production starts off promisingly enough, with the performers entering and exiting the playing area via a door that is pushed in a circular motion around the middle of the stage by one of the company. This leads in to several acrobatic efforts, including one, which has the Mistress of Mayhem (Anna Lagerkvist) maneuvering on a long pole in the center of the stage and stopping herself from falling with only the strength of her leg muscles as she rapidly descends perpendicular to the floor.

Unfortunately, the entire work quickly becomes bogged down with continual ramblings about risks and the right and left side of the brain, as mentioned by the Wizard of Wonder (Henrik Agger). Less of an explanation than it is incoherently sounding sentences, and told in a halting and incomplete manner, the effect serves to derail again and again any momentum the show might have otherwise built. Indeed, at times one feels as if in a lecture hall rather than a performance space. All of which does nothing to help one feel immersed or involved in what is unfolding. Nor does the repeatedly alluded to idea of risk-taking come to prominence in many of the sequences demonstrated, with one often waiting for something more to happen than what actually occurs.

To be sure, some of the exhibitions are quite enjoyable, such as a knife-throwing act – with a performer strapped to a spinning wheel as the blades hurtle towards her. There's also a hilarious ping pong ball sequence between two of the company (David Eriksson and Fouzia Rakez) which includes juggling and spitting said object from their mouths. Another nice touch is when knives come falling from the ceiling or when Nerves of Steel (Jesper Nikolajeff) starts tossing around chain saws.

Things also pick up a bit after the intermission, with some rather interesting and occasionally risqué trapeze action, but the entire experience never really comes together to create an overall feeling of astonishment, enjoyment or humor. There's also little connection between the performers and the audience members, though there is some audience participation at one point.

The show sets, all of which have a sort of used circus feel to them, are nicely appropriate to the context of the production, as are the costumes and makeup work. The choreography and direction are more of a mixed bag, enjoyable when they work and feeling more than a little stagnant when they don't.

Wear It Like A Crown is certainly not a bad show in any sense of the word. However it's sadly not that good enough to warrant a strong recommendation.

Wear It Like A Crown

Featuring: Henrik Agger (Wizard of Wonder), Louise Bjurholm (Miraculous and Supernatural), David Eriksson (Marvel of the Century), Fouzia (Fofo) Rakez (Wild Weird and Wonderful), Jesper Nikolajeff (Nerves of Steel), Anna Lagerkvist (Mistress of Mayhem)

Presented by Cirkus Cikör
Music and Lyrics by Rebekka Karijord
Set Design by creative team and ensemble
Costume Design by Anna Bonnevier
Lighting Design by Ulf Englund
Dramaturgy by Camilla Damkjaer
Chorography by Molly Saudek, Cilla Roos
Film and Projection Design by Johan Bååth
Hair and Makeup Design by Helena Andersson
Props/Décor Tomas Helsing
Director's Assistant: Hanna Reinius
Circus Rigging and Construction Ulf Poly Nylin, Anders Freudendahl
Constructor: Joel Jedström
Sound Technician: Alex Angelflod
Tour Leader: Camilla Hammarström
Props Assistant: Sara Brobert
Directed by Tilde Björfors

Presented by the Brooklyn Academy of Music
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House

30 Lafayette Avenue

Running time: Two Hours, with intermission
Closed: June 3, 2012

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