Lady Steed and I took our middle child (the only one to engage in either circus or music training with any seriousness) to see our friend Sam's Circus Screams last night. (The baby also came along and, happily, she slept through it.)
It was pretty great. A smorgasbord of artifice!* You can get a sense of its aesthetic by looking at video and photos on Twitter.
I didn't know the show was going to be funny. But it was, largely thanks to the work by Natasha Kaluza who played three characters and whose killer mime skills moved the show from the literal to the imagination---much of what happens in the show wouldn't make sense without her laying the groundwork. In fact, a scene near the end similar to her scenes lost some of my companions (we ran into more friends at the show) because the man executing them lacked Kaluza's ability to clearly signify that what we were seeing had left the realm of the literal.
But first and foremost, Circus Screams was a musical performance. We have the cd, but I think I will find my way into it more easily now having seen it live. Yes the circus performers / actors helped here, but just seeing the band make the music also gave it life. (If you've never been to see music live---complicated music you don't quite understand---this may be why you don't quite understand it. Having seen it, you might still lack understanding, but it will live for you.
But enough with the preaching in the second person.
For all the laffs and murder and discord and acrobatics and audience-participation screaming, the show closes on a quiet trumpet solo. A prolonged moment in which the violence and absurdity and artifice recede and the audience is pointed toward the direction of . . . reality? But I hesitate to call it contemplative and I hesitate even more to sully this post with an unpleasant word like "reality." So let's just say that it's a quiet moment at the end, and we can all make of it what we will.