The Speakeasy Circus

The music was swinging and the drinks flowed, as the party got underway and the audience found their tables, before the start of Speakeasy CircusPart cabaret and part variety show Speakeasy Circus was an theatrical production by the Boston Circus Guild that featured an original narrative and different circus themed acts.

Conceived of and performed by the Boston Circus Guild as part of the Artist in Residency Program with the American Repertory Theater,  “Speakeasy Circus started off as a 1920’s themed variety show as part of the Outside the Box festival in summer 2013.  We performed to a packed house in a spiegeltent on Boston Common and realized we were onto something artistically,” said Nancy Allen, Artistic Director of the Speakeasy Circus, “from there we decided to make it a scripted cabaret show with a cast of characters and a narrative that integrates the circus acts into a show.”

Since the Oberon Theater is all but synonymous with avant-garde, going there to see a show you expect your theater experience to be a little non-traditional.  It’s the kind of place where depending on the show, theater can become interactive, sitting is at times optional and dancing is often encouraged.

The show was a little sexy, a little madcap and a lot of fun.  The multi-talented performers sparkled in their physicality and showmanship and the evening pulsed with music that covered some of the Jazz greats and at times reminded me of the Verve Remixed.

With the drama unfolding around the theater the audiences excitement was tangible and there was a whirling, kinetic energy to the evening.  The acts were unique and amazing, they showcased everything from aerial artists to striptease, and featured a cast of characters that you might expect to see in a sequel to Some Like it Hot.  Performers spun, balanced and sang their way through the story hanging from the rafters, on the bar and of course on the main stage.

While I will forever be impressed by anyone who can perform for a live audience, I am even more impressed by someone, or a group of people, who can script and produce an original show that incorporates so many different elements and provides such a unique theater experience.

Art and artists in their truest form are in a state of constant evolution.   While this past weekend saw Speakeasy Circus come to a close, the Boston Circus Guild is already planning, what sounds like it will be, an incredible follow up production. “Our next show, Midnight at the Midway, will be a Spring/Summer 2015 production and it is the complete opposite of this show,” said Artistic Director, Nancy Allen, “It will not only be unscripted, it will be fully improvised and directly engage audience members into the action.”

Many thanks to the Boston Circus Guild for inviting me to their show.  It was an incredible evening and I look forward to their next production.

(*All images published and taken with permission © Julia Swanson, 2015)

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