Loose Leaf Collective's Phantasmagoria: Circus of Dreams is a work of physical theatre devised and produced by students in the Bachelor of Performing Arts completion degree, a unique joint program between Capilano University, Douglas College, Langara College, and Vancouver Community College. Showcasing the acting, musical, movement, visual, and design talents of 23 talented young creators, the concept for the piece derives from the carnival side show, with vignettes made up of conjoined twins, a man-eating siren, and tap-dancing wind-up dolls, among others.
Not everything worked, and some of the transitions between scenes were either too rushed or filled with too much dead space. However, as an overall sensory experience, there is no denying the impact of the piece, particularly in terms of scenography and costume design.
Special kudos to the twinned Joni Mitchell-esque harlequins on keyboards and cello, and also to the woman who played the clown. The latter was no pratfalling jester out for the easy laugh; rather, in true bouffon style, she had an edge of meanness to her, harassing and cajoling the audience and her fellow performers in equal measure. And, as befitted her role (and the piece as a whole), she also brought things back to the body in the most grotesque and visceral way when she squatted and mimed a shit on stage. When's the last time you saw that in a theatre in Vancouver?
Another great thing to see: last night's performance was sold-out. In fact, so overworked was Roundhouse front-of-house manager Donna Soares that she conscripted me and two of my LGC dance crew who had turned up to see the show, Diane and Kuei-Ming, into helping out as ushers. I'm not sure if the lack of staff was a failing of the Roundhouse or the PuSh Festival; either way, I was happy to help direct folks to their seats.