‘Circus’ at The Puppet Co. by Julia L. Exline

Juggling bears, flying trapezes, and tightropes! The Puppet Co. presents Circus, a spectacle of tricks and feats led by a band of marionettes, beautifully crafted by the talented Len and Pat Piper, Christopher and Mayfield Piper, and Allan Stevens.

Professor Harold Schlockenheimer and his trained seal, Noel. Photo by Christopher Piper
Professor Harold Schlockenheimer and his trained seal, Noel.
Photo by Christopher Piper.

Set Designers Allan Stevens and Mayfield Piper frame the stage with a red and white striped circus tent lined with gold fringe and tassels, with a raised ring rising from the center. This, alongside the cheery music, makes up a miniaturized Circus setting. Christopher Piper performs in this show with his assistant Queen Suyat, both bedecked in glittery red-and-gold ensembles. fringe and tassels.

A roller skating clown. Photo by Christopher Piper.
A roller skating clown. Photo by Christopher Piper.

After greeting the young audience, Piper and Suyat waste no time in bringing out the stars of the show; including a seal who balances a ball, a clown who walks a tightrope while on a unicycle, and a somewhat clumsy wolf who tries to jump hurdles (but could use a little encouragement from the audience!). My favorite part of the show was a graceful, delicate marionette who proved tougher than she looked as she flew through the space on a flying trapeze! Another great aspect of the show was a large puppet mask crafted to resemble a lion. Worn by Piper with matching “paws,” the lion roars while wrangling with its trainer-on-strings.

While the tricks are cute and well-executed, the lead-up on some of them are a bit slow (no doubt because of the fact that the marionettes must be operated precisely), causing some impatient wiggles form the children. However, these pauses are quickly forgotten once the puppets take off, performing impressive balancing acts and defying gravity!

This season is the perfect time to take in the lovely scenery of Glen Echo Park (including an antique, working carousel and arts and crafts for the family)! It makes sense to take in a Circus performance while enjoying your day outdoors! Also, The Puppet Company is celebrating its 30th anniversary, and has a lovely exhibit of their puppets next to the theatre, in the Popcorn Gallery.

A visit to the Circus will make a memorable day for your family!

Running Time: 40 minutes, without an intermission.

Circus plays through September 1, 2013 at The Puppet Co.— Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Boulevard, in Glen Echo, MD. For tickets, please call (301) 634-5380, or purchase them online.



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