Bindlestiff Family Cirkus Cabaret
Club Helsinki Hudson
February 28, 2015
Review and photos by Seth Rogovoy
(HUDSON, N.Y.) – The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus is in the midst of its annual winter residency at Club Helsinki Hudson, performing monthly shows from January through March, and Saturday night’s show, on the final night of the most dismal February in memory – literally one for the record books – provided some much-needed smiles and laughter.
The Hudson-based troupe, founded and run by Stephanie Monseu and Keith Nelson, brought to town a talented variety of performers who variously dazzled with acrobatics, slapstick comedy, musical performances, and other clowning around.
Nelson himself kicked things off with his own kind of clowning, which included plenty of X-rated “balloon sculptures.” There was plenty of audience participation – or was that audience humiliation? – involved, which set the tone for the evening, which emphasized the live, anything-can-happen aspect of the show, in which the performers didn’t hide behind theater’s artificial fourth wall, but often made the audience part of the show.
Such was the case during the routine by comedians Stephen King and Ryan Dekoe, who perform as Fly By Night. The duo of talented jugglers and improvisers drafted an unwitting audience member, who looked like he could have been a member of the Grateful Dead – or at least a longtime follower – and they made the most of that with amphetamine-fast repartee about smoking pot and other behaviors associated with aging hippies, all the while juggling bowling pins just inches in front of and behind his head.
Brooklyn-based hula hoop artist Miss 360 did more with those hoops that you ever imagined possible, both from the vantage point of the artist and the actual hoop. Hudson Valley author Sarah Kilborne delivered an over-the-top, razzle-dazzle rendition of a lesbian torch song, presumably from her upcoming show, “The Lavender Blues: A Showcase of Queer Music Before World War II.”
Dimitri Hatton contributed a set of comedy that applied Steve Martin-style slapstick to Andy Kaufman’s character of Foreign Man in a bit that underlined the theme of the evening – if there was one: the tension between theatrical lies and illusion. They are two different things, and throughout the evening, performers ventured their different takes on the notion. The same was the case with Kendra Greaves, who performed a stunning aerial act that at the same time was a critique of pop culture.
The ringmistress of it all, Stephanie Monseu, brought the curtain down on Act I with a lascivious lesson in safe sex that involved a condom and nasal irrigation. Enough said about that!
Alas, I could only stay for Act I, so Act II will have to be left to yours and my imaginations.