Review: In ‘42 FT,’ a Circus Shrunk to Fit

Review: In ‘42 FT,’ a Circus Shrunk to Fit

The nice thing about a circus is that it wants you to be happy. Others shows challenge you, provoke you, make you think, make you feel. But a bigtop-style spectacle aims directly for your pleasure receptors, offering a dose of dopamine, cut with adrenaline and delivered straight to your seat. Or isn’t that what everyone experiences when Battulga Battogtokh, a strongman from Mongolia, hefts three women simultaneously?

To fill its more or less annual holiday circus slot, the New Victory has hired the Las Vegas-based Cirque Mechanics. Having already brought “Birdhouse,” “Boomtown” and “Pedal Punk,” the troupe arrives with a sportive new show, “42FT: A Menagerie of Mechanical Marvels.” Truth in advertising: The mechanics aren’t especially marvelous. The show takes its title from the diameter of a standard circus ring. The tidy, revolving ring the company has built mostly looks like a miniature version of St. Louis’s arch, embellished with a few stars. Tricks involving a rotating ladder and an aerodynamic sleigh are deft enough, but juggling atop a horse is somewhat less impressive when that horse is just a thinly disguised tricycle.

But what this show does have is a big, cheerful heart. The performers, elegantly costumed by Caroline Rogers, charmingly lit by Anthony Powers and Joe D’Emilio and fleetly directed by Aloysia Gavre and Chris Lashua, make “42 FT” a delight. In the show, which seems to be set sometime during or just before the Depression, they appear both onstage and in comic backlot scenes, in which a clown, Justin Therrien, tries to become one of the lithe, muscular gang.

Though the trike itself underwhelms, the performer atop it, Tatiana Vasilenko, proves that she can juggle with one hand tied behind her back — either hand, really. Elijah Newton and Nikki Unwin make a jaunty trapeze duo, though given the limits of the “42FT” set and the New Victory’s stage, that trapeze doesn’t fly so much as sway. Battogtokh strides on in the first act, lobbing medicine balls as easily as you or I might chuck a hacky sack. In the second act, he trundles back on heaving a wooden rod the length of a stretch limo with swings attached, then spins it around with two women aboard.

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