Cirque Shanghai's new show at the New Victory has plenty to delight both children and adults.
Outside the confines of a contrived storyline, company members have more time to leapfrog each other through a maze of hoops, contort their bodies in every which way as they stack on top of each other, and even send one brave woman to balance on a frightfully high stack of chairs. Watching her spin gracefully through the air may render even the chatty kid-filled audience momentarily speechless.
It's fun, though, to see the enthusiasm of the kids as they raise their hands frantically, hoping to be picked for one of the many audience participation segments. These bits include one colorfully dressed member, Yuhua Li, teaching the kids (and a couple brave adults) a few juggling moves. It's true, however, that for those not involved, these moments can quickly wear thin and cause the show to drag during its 80-minute running time.
Everyone has their favorite circus act -- from contortionists to hoop divers -- and Bai Xi features most of these classics, as well as their take on the classic clown car, where several acrobats (at least eight by my count) climb on a single-seat bike as it circles the stage. It's hard to imagine how they all fit and mange to look so poised in the process, not to mention all the death-defying action they cram onto a pretty cozy stage. Indeed, the "wheel of death" in the finale is so large in comparison as to require many a head turning.