The Coast review of Halifax Circus’s Nautica, September 8, 2016Nautica explores the traditionally masculine world of sailing with an all-female cast from Halifax Circus, who rock in hammocks fashioned from silks, climb a rope mast to lookout for land, and ride the waves on a trapeze.Featuring acrobatics and aerials, the story is told in seven vignettes set to music from artists as disparate as Tori Amos, Massive Attack and Great Big Sea. In Revelry, the crew cavorts in a tavern, flirting with each other and drunkenly showboating as they tumble and swing. In Sirens, one trapeze artist entices another until they are swinging together with limbs intertwined, languidly waving like seaweed in a current. The embodiment of a storm spins frantically on the silks in Maelstrom, menacing our sailors and threatening to drown them as they brace against the wind, clutching each other.Entrancing, expressive and skillful, the multifaceted vignettes weave a tale of passion, joy, and respect for the power of the sea. Worth seeing even if you don’t know that partial ticket proceeds go to Circus Circle, a youth drop-in program that teaches circus and life skills.
The Coast review of Halifax Circus’s Up in the Air: A Circus Love Story 2015
Kristin Langille Dahl looks like an angel floating high above the St. Matthew’s Church grounds, and the outdoor atmosphere of Up in the Air makes it unique among this year’s fringe offerings. Don’t expect circus-style spectacle in this show, which is actually an intimate duet. In a nearly wordless love story, a romance blossoms and fades, told through acrobatics. The affair starts off with Alex Smith serenading Langille Dahl on his guitar, and she invites him to dance. Slow dance turns to lively break dance, and soon romance sparks between them. Where there’s spark there’s fire, and the couple’s fire dancing is impressive, even as our hero’s flame burns out early, leaving our heroine’s fiery passion unrequited. The show is at its most glorious when Smith and Langille Dahl interact in a somewhat balletic motion, both aloft high in the air, entangled in flowing white fabric and bathed in dancing light. The transitions between numbers in the show are a bit slow and inelegant compared to the beauty when the performers focus on one another. Langille Dahl’s prowess, hovering high above a concrete slab, keeps the show feeling lively. The uncomplicated girl-meets-loses-boy narrative may only skim the emotional surface, but one can be moved by the daring of the performers, because this acrobatic show, just like love, is all about trust. It’s one of the most visually arresting shows at the festival.
“Buffoon Buffet full of whimsy, playfulness” Review by Elisa Barnard, The Chronicle Herald"It's a match made in heaven, the joining of Sherry Lee Hunter’s physical comedy with Michael Hirschbach’s circus arts. Both have always been strong vocal and physical performers even without a bag of tricks. In Buffoon Buffet they create a family show that keeps kids hooked with a bag of tricks and narrative events, and keeps them giggling especially towards the end.It was a great time at this show, said my five year old daughter, 'because I even got some souvenirs.' She used the word 'awesome' to describe Hirschbach's balancing of a giant tennis racket on one finger. Awesome, silly, imaginative and fun, Buffoon Buffet, which wraps up today at 1 p.m., at Alderney Landing, has an almost Beckett-like premise.Two innocent clowns, Milton (Hirschbach) and Baguette (Hunter) are expecting all their friends to arrive for Buffoon Buffet Day, a giant annual party usually marred by Wilbur's explosive gifts. A sudden weather event, Hurricane Juanita, leaves them without guests and with nothing to do except sit on a giant chair. This comes after a lively intro with bicycles and diminishing and expanding balls and racquets, with a Jest in Time Theatre whimsy and playfulness. Finally, unable to resist temptation, Milton and Baguette open up their presents which are dolls of themselves. When Milton gets the tiny Baguette doll everything he does to her impacts on Hunter, so when he bangs the dolls head on the chair Hunter goes "Ow!"When the characters reminisce about their parents it allows Hunter to revive her much-loved Ed sketch from Jest in Time Theatre's repertoire, and kids seeing it for the first time and mothers seeing it for their umpteenth time, love it. This is the sketch where Hunter is asleep in a tiny bed, snoring, and her teddy bear, Ed, wakes up.Hunter's mastery at puppetry here is matched by Hirschbach's when he neatly inserts a previous sketch of his own involving a jack-in-the -box who comes insanely alive…While Hirschbach's skills at juggling, puppetry and playing two recorders at once are amazing, Hunter holds her own as a consummate physical performer. Both are expressive and lively character actors.
"Feasting on Buffoon Buffet" Review by Stephen Pederson, The Chronicle Herald May 19, 2006...Both Hunter and Hirschbach are well-established professional mime and clown artists. As Baguette (Hunter) and Milted (Hirschbach) they ravaged the stage with slapstick humour, physical jokes and puppetry, while maintaining a running commentary about a birthday party which Hurricane Juanita prevented anyone from attending. When Baguette opened the door, the sound of the wind rose exponentially and Hirschbach drew a delighted burst of applause for his one arm horizontal hand-stand illusion of the wind blowing him across the room.The show was...full of short sequences of skits inspired by the opening of birthday presents in boxes which contained surprise gifts of unruly creatures like a sleepless teddy bear and an over-affectionate jack-in-the-box. Clown humour with such polished artists never fails for audiences of any age.
"Hatful of Podger is the highlight of Kids' Theatre Fest" Review by Marilyn Smulders, The Daily News"At first, my kids were disappointed. I had billed the guy as a clown and the man standing before them seemed pretty ordinary, with only a battered bowler hat on his head to make him stand out from the crowd. Then he began his show and there were no more complaints.Michael David Hirschbach's A Hatful of Podger is a wonderful vehicle for this versatile and charming performer. Hirschbach tells a story about an eccentric uncle - the former owner of the battered bowler - all the while saluting the vaudeville era of entertainment.He juggles, he plays the musical saw, he can ride a unicycle. With a rubber face made to bring on laughter, Hirschbach endears us to Uncle Podger, a clumsy old man who may not be able to hang a picture without inciting disaster, but who can balance a peacock feather on his chin or play two flutes at once.The highlight of the show was Podger's first and only appearance on TV, in which he wrestles with a demonic jack-in-the-box. My kids were still chuckling about it hours later.You can't go wrong with A Hatful of Podger. And the word from the junior critics? Five year old: (serious) "He's very skilful." Three-year old: "He's as silly as Uncle Dick."
Review by Elissa Barnard, The Chronicle Herald"Michael Hirschbach has created a sophisticated, beautifully structured show thatcombines his skills at juggling, unicycling and physical comedy with story in A Hatful of Podger. Though the kids at Alderney Gate went nuts for the 'tricks' that include playing a saw, conducting and whistling the William Tell Overture, and being kissed by a jack-in-the-box gone nuts ( a great part of the show), it was all within the gentle, nostalgic context of an adult telling a story about his mentor, his crazy, eccentric Uncle Podger, who played the vaudeville circuit and was destroyed by TV. The magic for the kids amazed them becausethey weren't expecting to be wowed every minute, a la busker; the quiet moments made the comedy more powerful. Hirschbach is at the peak of his powers in this finely crafted piece of work."