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All the World's a Stage

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All the World's a Stage, Midnight Circus, at the Ivanhoe Theater. The show must go on, even after a simple magic trick accidentally conjures up none other than William Shakespeare himself. Fortunately the Bard's immortal words turn out to complement the Midnight Circus's dazzling physical pyrotechnics as well as the words of modern American playwrights did in the 1997 The Midnight Circus: When Circus and Theater Collide. True, Jeffrey Jenkins's delivery of Marc Antony's oration while scaling a 22-foot tower of chairs and Julie Greenberg's upside-down recitation of Juliet's balcony speech are unconventional. But by the end of the evening even their famous author--played with infectious glee by Mitchell J. Fain--has joined in the acrobatic antics.

This imaginative troupe's current production includes strap-hanging gymnasts, supple-bodied contortionists (the exquisite Tsogbaatar sisters), a dog who jumps rope and an usher who spins ropes, delicate aerialists twirling by their ankles right above our heads, giant puppets on stilts, jugglers, and clowns (Ed Kross and Robert Ayres contribute a Siamese-twin act). There are also three-tiered human pyramids, original music by wunderkind composers Andre Pluess and Ben Sussman, and an audience volunteer who reads the list of patrons while dangling from a harness. Clocking in at a brisk two hours, this uproarious, innovative spectacle is irresistible entertainment for the whole family.

--Mary Shen Barnidge

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