I was definitely intrigued when I saw that Circus 1903 was coming to Boston. You know I love a good circus! When I was offered complimentary tickets to check it out, plus a discount (scroll all the day down) for my Boston-area readers, I certainly wasn’t going to turn it down. That said, I’m not going to say I like a show when I don’t. My first and foremost goal is to provide a service to my readership. With that in mind, I have to say that Circus 1903 is an absolute delight and I highly recommend it for anyone who loves circus and artisty.
Circus 1903 has a unique premise. The first act takes place as the circus arrives in town, the tent is going up, performers are perfecting their art and training animals, and the crowd is lining up outside. The second act takes inside to see the show. Narrated by an old-school Ringmaster, Circus 1903 transports you back in time to the days when circuses were a thing of wonder, appearing overnight, and bringing curiosities from around the world.
While there isn’t necessarily a central plot in Circus 1903, the acts are all woven together to portray the arrival and performance of the circus. Within that framework are some very talented performers showing off the most traditional of circus arts: aerial hoop (lyra), contortion, acro, tumbling, juggling, cycling, balancing, and a pure high wire act – something I haven’t seen in quite some time. On opening night in Boston, however, two acts stole the show. The first was the inclusion of a mama and baby elephant, a pair of stunning puppets that captured both the regality of the species, and the playfulness of a baby animal. The second was a Ringmaster-led audience-participation act that drew on the unpredictable nature of children. Four audience members between the ages of 4 and 10 were invited on stage to help with some magic tricks and a (faux) animal act. The results were hilarious and even those of my neighbors who were clearly not circus aficionados were swept up in the fun. This is not to take away from the rest of the highly talented performers, but let’s face it – people are suckers for cute.
Despite some dazzling performances and charismatic artists, I found the pacing of the show to be a little bit off. Some portions, especially in the first act, dragged, while others whizzed by. But there was no doubt about the talent of the performers. There were mistakes, which I expect in live circus performances, but generally they kept on trying until they nailed their stunts. This is actually something I enjoy most about the circus. I love the message that it sends to my kids about being imperfect. In addition, the mistakes keep the show feeling vibrant and difficult and dangerous. When performers are overly polished, it’s easy to forget that what they are doing has taken a lifetime to perfect, and that careers can be quickly ended by the smallest error.
Is Circus 1903 OK for Kids?
The first thing anyone ever asks me is how long is the show? Circus 1903 – The Golden Age of Circus runs approximately 2.5 hours, with a 20-minute intermission. It’s a family-friendly experience, as long as your child is can sit that long. In truth, younger children may simply be bored. The show is not really geared toward them and there isn’t enough of a story or plot to engage them. The humor is too advanced for the preschool set, although they will no doubt enjoy the antics of their peers on stage. Some of the acts are slow paced with artistic intention. But just as your kids might be getting antsy, the elephants make an appearance and it’s difficult to not fall in love. I’d recommend Circus 1903 for kids 5 and up, but younger ones may enjoy it as well.
Circus 1903 – The Golden Age of Circus in Boston
March 8-12, 2017
Boch Center Wang Theatre
270 Tremont St.
Boston, MA 02116
Ticket prices start at $45. They are available through the Boch Center box Office, at www.bochcenter.org, by calling 800-982-ARTS (2787) or through Ticketmaster.
DISCOUNT CODE: Save 25% on tickets to see CIRCUS 1903 – The Golden Age of Circus at the Boch Wang Theatre! Visit http://www.bochcenter.org/buy/show-listing/circus-1903 and enter code MOMS to buy your discounted tickets. Discount applies to all performances, while supplies last. Valid on all levels, excluding Orchestra Pit.
Disclosure: We received free tickets to facilitate a review. Giveaway tickets are courtesy of Circus 1903. No additional compensation was provided.