My six-year-old daughter and I are huge circus fans. I love edgy, quirky troupes that are all about aerial and acrobatic feats, not animals, while my kid digs everything from over-the-top extravaganzas to more down-to-earth acts.
But when I saw images from Traces, a new Off Broadway show featuring a stripped-down set and a small cast clad in black pants and plain white tees, I wondered if it would hold her interest. With no gimmicks or colorful costumes, I knew the stunts would have to be pretty incredible to keep her entertained.
Well, they totally are. Unlike other circuses, in which each performer has a specialty, the seven stars of Traces are multitalented. They tumble, leap, climb, skateboard, dance, dribble basketballs, even sing and play the piano (some badly for comic effect). It's an exhilarating 90 minutes that also has bleak undertones. Although there's no plot per se, the performers burst with manic energy and seem to be working against the clock—at times literally when a timer appears in the background. There are also allusions to the end of the world and at one point they trace each other's limp bodies with chalk. But don't worry: These are all quick impressionistic bits that will go over most kids' heads. My daughter and the children around us didn't seem disturbed. In fact, all she kept saying was, "Whoa!"