Avery has yet to encounter a street performer, juggler or slap-stick routine that hasn’t sent him into the most adorable giggle fit.
So when the trucks rolled into our borough and the tent went up for the Chinese State Circus, I was sure it would be an instant hit!
More Cirque du Soleil than Ringling Bros, there was little ethical quandary over whether “to circus or not to circus”. As I purchased the tickets, I simply imagined Avery’s wide-eyed excitement and unabashed glee. Even Mike was looking forward to it.
The show opened with a welcome from the “Monkey King” and a parade celebrating 2,000 years of Chinese acrobatic history.
Although the blaring voice-over had all of the forced warmth and deliberate annunciation of Moviefone (blast from the past), Avery seemed engaged. He was smiling and clapping, but by the time the second act of plate spinners took to the stage, he was sobbing.
Mike and I took turns comforting him, but his tears were undaunted and he begged to go home…
… £55 and five minutes into the show.
Mike and I exchanged glances… Should we go? Should we see if he calms down? Perhaps it’s just the thought of a million plates shattering that’s stressing him out…
It was completely dark except for the stage and the music was so loud that his crying didn’t even register with the families sitting near us.
(I actually think it was the combination of the noisy, the crowded, and the dark that set him off… )
I told Mike to save our seats while I took Avery outside for a few minutes, which, of course, stretched into the rest of the first half of the show. I tried to coax him back inside so that he could at least see the “Lion Dance”…
… but he was content to periodically peak in through the curtains. Nothing more.
By intermission, I had bought Avery a bag of popcorn and successfully convinced him let us join Mike again. We took seats closer to the exit and talked to Avery about the circus– relating it to a Curious George story about the circus and a favorite episode of Thomas the Tank Engine…
No luck. He spent the second act, either crumpled across our laps with one eye shut and both ears covered or asking to leave again.
Called the “Olympic Nations Tour 2008”, the show concluded with four gold-medal winners performing on various gymnastics equipment while a singer in a long flowy number lip-synced to a something akin to “We Are The World”.
However, by this point, Mike was taking his turn chasing Avery around the concession stand and occasionally peaking in between the curtains.
After the last bow, I collected our stuff and met Avery and Mike at the entrance. As I helped Avery into his stroller, he says to me, “Circus FUN, Mommy!” and he was all smiles and clapping again.
In all fairness, it was a fun show, but it will be a looooooooong time before we ever “circus” again…