Wednesday, September 20, 2017

German history inspires 'Cirque Exotique du Monde'

Sarrasine (Lisa Burton) meets anthropologist Dr. Singer (Ronald Feichtmeir ) Photo by Lance Huntley

     Good intentions don’t always make for good theater.

     Case in point: Dragon Theatre’s world premiere production of “Cirque Exotique du Monde” by Peninsula playwright Kathy Boussina.

     Inspired by historical events, most of the action is set in the titular circus in Berlin in 1936. It’s hard-pressed for money and harassed by the Nazis.

     Some financial hope emerges with an eccentric anthropologist who wants to add two of the performers to his creepy collection of oddities like preserved human fetuses and brains.
     Several actors play several roles. Lisa Burton as Sarrasine, owner of the circus, and Charles Monson as Hans the Giant are both fine. However, as directed by Lessa Bouchard and Bora “Max” Koknar, the others overact in many scenes.

     They and their main roles are Ronald Feichtmeir as Dr. Singer, the anthropologist;  Alix Josefski as Picnic, financial manager of the circus; Alika U. Spencer-Koknar as performer Boshka; and Oscar Velarde as Otto, a juggler.

     Anna Yanushkevich, who devised the rigging, has a non-speaking role as an aerialist whose feats are seen twice. However, like much of the rest of the play, these sequences go on too long. Cutting is needed throughout.

     The costumes, some of them ill-fitting, are by Kathleen Qui. The set, lighting and props are by Nathanael Card with sound by Nick Solasteas.

     Running about two and a half hours with one intermission, “Cirque Exotique du Monde” will continue through Oct. 8 at Dragon Theatre, 2120 Broadway St., Redwood City. For tickets and information, call (650) 493-2006, Ext. 2, or visit