BIG APPLE CIRCUS: A dilettante at large review

Where are the great acts I remembered? The trained cats? the galloping horses? the iron men? the Wheel of Death? the gasp-inducing trapeze tricks? the genuinely funny (and not scary) clowns?  

For years I’ve been recommending the Big Apple Circus: rave reviews about the charm, the wholesomeness, the thrills, the old-fashioned fun of this circus  when, each year, it raises its big top at Lincoln Center in New York. But not this year.  Amateurish, with lame acts (and shocking prices), this year’s show was a disappointment. The kids in the audience has a loud and happy good time, and that, I suppose is what counts, but their parents and grandparents were not so delighted.

The theme was “Dream Big” and most of the video projections behind the live acts were clips of interviews with the performers. What they all had in common was that they had no need to dream of running away with the circus; they were all born into the life, with generations of aerialists, or jugglers or clowns behind them.  

Tiny poodles jump over their trainer’s foot. A descendant of the Flying Wallendas and various relatives walk across a tight-rope at glacial speed. Hula hoops are twirled from every body part. A magician swallows many razor blades in a creepy don’t-try-this-at-home demonstration. The clown with a shrill voice and gigantic mohawk encourages the children to cheer him on and boo the villain. And they do. And that’s nice, but nobody wants to go to the circus for an earnest lecture on bullying.

[The Big Apple Circus is in Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center, NYC] November 9. 2022-January 1, 2023;

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