Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Modern Circus Provides Only 'Traces' of Exhilaration: Theater Review

Theater Review

a modern circus by 7 Fingers
Broadway Playhouse, Chicago
Thru January 1, 2010

Without a doubt, the six men and one woman that comprise the Chicago production of Traces--a modern, faux guerilla circus sort of like a more subdued Cirque du Soleil--did some truly amazing things on stage. Feats that I, and most humans, can't even imagine, including as shown in my fuzzy picture at left (photography was allowed, but no flash) balancing one one's head atop a chair atop a chair.

But while a number of acts in the 90-minute show were undoubtedly impressive, in sum Traces failed to truly captivate me.

There was no discernible narrative connecting the "circus acts," only canned music except for a couple sweet but innocuous musical pieces and though the acrobatics were superb, they didn't seem all that far beyond those seen at high school gymnastic meets 25 years ago.

Traces wasn't as good as most of the Cirque du Soleil shows I've seen and although I'm not going to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus while it's at the United Center this week, I imagine I would also enjoy that more.

I guess shows comprised of nothing more then incredible human tricks aren't really my thing, as I also didn't much care for Fuerza Bruta when it played at the Auditorium earlier this year. The Chicago Tribune's fine theater critic, Chris Jones, gave Traces four stars (out of 4) so if you think this is the kind of show you and your family might like, I'm not here to dissuade you from going.

I just honestly was far more enthralled watching Derrick Rose make one dazzling move after another in the Bulls' loss to the Lakers when I got home last night than I was in the audience at Traces.

In fact, as someone who enjoys myriad art forms--as this blog should attest--I'm not trying to be glib when I say that knowing what I now do, I would rather see any worthwhile rock concert, jazz concert, classical performance, blues show, opera, play, musical, comedian, improv act, ballet, modern dance recital, athletic contest, movie or even just a good TV show--or heck, just read a good book--than bother seeing Traces or something akin again.

And I'm glad my ticket to Traces was just $15 as part of my Broadway in Chicago subscription, because for $30-something, let alone the top price exceeding $100, I would really have been disappointed.

As the Broadway Playhouse was considerably less than full last night, if you do wish to see Traces, you should easily be able to do so for half-price through HotTix or, as the venue is rather small, the cheapest seats should be more than fine without breaking the bank (or likely paying Ticketmaster fees).

But if your tastes are akin to mine, it's probably not even worth your time to traipse down to Water Tower Place in the holiday season for nothing more than visceral Traces of enjoyment. At best.

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