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                                                             By R. Pikser


They opened my eyes. They stopped my breath.  They expanded my heart.  I am more alive because I sat for 65 minutes and drank them in.


Magmanus, the name of the Swedish circus company duo performing Attached, is a witty, intertwined combination of the first names of the two performers, Magnus and Manus, and the formation of the name hints at much about the nature of the performance.  It suggests imagination, thoughtfulness, humor, attention to detail, and the combining of disparate elements into a different and larger whole.  It does not tell us about mastery of the body and the mind and sheer mouth-opening daring. 


Photos by  Alex Hinchcliffe.


The set, when one walks into the theater, appears simple.  Some wooden boxes are nested to stage right.  There is a large metal quarter moon lying center stage.   There are some teeter totter- looking machines.  Square white lights are mounted all along vertical poles surrounding the playing area.  Two very serious, bearded men enter, one from each side of the stage, both dressed in black jump suits.  The come together downstage and confront each other.  There is a suggestion of danger.  Then, as one is about to leave, they discover that their arms are attached by the hook and loop material sewed all over the jump suits.  Clearly, they must separate themselves.  And that is the beginning because, of course, they keep getting stuck by other body parts once they have worked one area free.


After they finally separate, the audience is involved immediately as one person is asked to give out some bright green tennis balls which, in a few minutes, audience members will hurl at the large red X Magnus has stuck onto Manu.  Some balls stick; others don’t.  No matter.  The suits come off and the performers start jugging with white balls and little tiny teeter totters, creating a rhythm, later creating musical tones, accompanied by non-intrusive taped percussion as they work, one at a time, together, interchanging.  We have seen similar things before, but not with the rhythm, and not with the same humor inviting us  to consider how everything they do is intertwined.


The suits go on; they come off.  Props seem to multiply and are thoroughly explored.  The boxes come out and are piled onto one another in various configurations:  They are places to balance; they are seats; they are jumped onto and from; they are moved across the stage Manu as he stands atop them The silver moon is a rocker; it is a way to roll the balls from one performer to the other; it is a vaulting stage; it is a point to balance on.  Mattresses are brought into play, as is a sandbag and the teeter-totters from which the performers propel themselves.  Because the exploration of each of the props is carefully constructed, either in complexity or in increasing danger, the evening has dramatic dynamics built into it.  As the show progresses to its climax, all of the elements that have been introduced including the audience members and the green tennis balls, are interconnected for one final, Rube Goldberg set-up for one final magnificent trick.

Magmanus says they want to spread happiness and inspire their audiences to follow their own dreams.  And they do. They show us that hard work can be fun and that dedication is rewarding.  They demonstrate that performance is for the pleasure of both the performer, who strives for excellence, and the audience that appreciates that excellence.  This means not only bringing the occasional participant up onto the stage, but more importantly, incorporating into the show the emotions that we all share:  fear, satisfaction, smugness, confusion, triumph.  Their concept is not that men can be consummate automatons; the concept is that these men are human beings who are supremely alive, living at the edge of danger with determination, but always with humor.  They invite us into their aliveness.  These performers are teaching us about life.


Many years ago, Martha Graham, one of the founders of American modern dance, used the analogy of the acrobat to describe the dedication of the dancer and of any dedicated person:


In all of us who perform there is an awareness of the smile which is part of the equipment, or gift, of the acrobat.  We have all walked the high wire of circumstance at times.  We recognize the gravity pull of the earth as he does.  The smile is there because he is practicing living at that instant of danger. He does not choose to fall.


We have come full circle.  Dance has all but ceased to look for meaning or have the desire to communicate.  The acrobats Magmanus show us that we can imbue whatever we do with meaning if we choose to. 



Attached by Magmanus

September 25th-26th 2015

Skirball Center

566 La Guardia Place

New York, NY

Tickets $32-$49

212 998 4941