Heirloom Toys Circus, presented by Toronto’s Deflying Feets, combines several different types of acrobatics to tell a story of loss and finding love again when you least expect it.
A lonely toymaker takes on a new employee, who quickly discovers that there’s more to the toys in the shop than meets the eye. Along the way, we see a flashback to the toymaker’s own personal loss, but with a little magic a happy ending still is possible.
Despite the dialogue-free nature of this show, the storytelling starts off remarkably strong, with the body language between the toymaker and the new hire (who has especially expressive facial expressions) showing reluctance on the former’s part and eagerness on the latter. The story does get a little more confusing toward the end – a flashback occurs about two-thirds of the way through and although the flashback itself is well-defined, the resolution to the story following it is a little unclear given that some performers play more than one role.
The acrobatics are quite impressive, including trapeze, Spanish web (similar to but not quite the same as aerial silks), Icarian games (foot juggling), teeterboard, and a generous amount of handstands. The performers do not shy away from the big flips, so be ready for the tension of “will they land it?” (spoiler alert: they do). At times there do seem to be some slightly unsteady landings, but I suppose there is always the risk of that (the adrenaline rush for the audience is part of the appeal of what used to be advertised as “death-defying” acts, after all). The need to set up the next acrobatic style following each scene does mean that there are some longer transitions than a Fringe audience might be used to, and there did seem to be a few issues with the backing music tracks, but this was the opening performance so I’m sure those kinks will be ironed out.
All in all Heirloom Toys Circus is a fun and family-friendly show that makes the most of a performance genre that Ottawa audiences don’t always get to see. Part of the appeal of this show for me was to see performers doing things I couldn’t/wouldn’t do myself, and if you’re the same then this is one for you.
Heirloom Toys Circus
A Deflying Feets production
At La Nouvelle Scène Studio A (Venue 6)