An unorthodox tango was just one of the impressive physical feats that took place in the <em>Birdhouse Factory</em>.

Paul Wellman

An unorthodox tango was just one of the impressive physical feats that took place in the Birdhouse Factory.

Birdhouse Factory, presented by Cirque-Works

At the Granada Theatre, Friday, September 12.

This whimsical, gravity-defying production opened the Granada’s enTRANCE! series. Inspired by Diego Rivera’s famous industry murals and Charlie Chaplin’s clowning comedic skills, the show’s real spirit derived from circus life. The Birdhouse Factory was filled with trapeze artists, unicyclists, and contortionists, and this unconventional group of factory workers mesmerized the audience.

The stage was set as an industrial factory with minimal accoutrements, lending the atmosphere a cold, impersonal tone. However, it wasn’t long before both performers and audience had warmed up. As soon as movement onstage began, it was obvious that despite this dreary backdrop, something extraordinary was to happen. Acting out in defiance of their mundane jobs and controlling boss, the factory workers started to move freely to the chaotic music, dancing with boundless energy across the floor. A woman standing atop a turntable powered by unicyclists captivated everyone’s attention by contorting her body into shocking positions. Her legs seemed completely detached from her body, taking on an identity of their own as they swung up and over her head, while remaining perfectly in sync with the fluidity of her torso.

As the performance developed, a thin plotline was revolved around a bird on the loose inside the factory, whose presence provided inspiration for continued movement onstage. But the storyline was unnecessary, distracting even, since the sheer talent of the performers was quite enough to entertain. Also problematic was a pesky clown character brought on to fill time between acrobatic acts and invoke audience participation. While he did get laughs from the children in the audience, it seemed most adults were counting down until the next scene. Thankfully, the clown’s time onstage was brief, and it wasn’t long before a superb juggler stole attention and assuaged the creeping boredom.

Despite minor inconsistencies and distractions, the remarkable physical feats of Birdhouse Factory‘s memorable performers, like the Ropelamp Swinger and two tango dancers in perfect synchronicity, were enough to leave this audience member entranced.

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