Review: 'ZirkusGrimm'

July 24, 2013
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

In Q Artistry's oddball theatrical hit "ZirkusGrimm" (through July 27 at the Irvington Lodge), the circus feats, deliberately, aren't terribly awe-inspiring  But the show's ambition certainly is. How often does Indianapolis get to see an original musical premiere, complete with able band, large cast (more than 25), uncompromised set, and spot-on costumes? If you answered "never," you're probably right. At least in recent memory. And the fact that it works as well as it does is fairly remarkable.


Q's impresario Ben Asaykwee sets "ZirkusGrimm" in a tattered German circus, where Grimm's fairy tales are told in lieu of amazing feats and animal acts.  Lean times have made food scarce, we are told, leaving it up to us to imagine what happened to the former beast population. Mixing Paul Sills' Story Theatre techniques with decadent, Kander and Ebb style, "Zirkus" episodically offers inventively staged stories punctuated by hard-driving (if difficult to decifer) songs. We get The Fisherman and His Wife, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and more, all in decidedly non-Disney fashion.

Fairy tale tweaking is nothing new on stage (and the Riding Hood segment doesn't bring anything that hasn't been seen in "Into the Woods"). But the "let's just get on with it" delivery is fun (narrative leaps are often made with a simple "blah, blah, blah") as are the self-deprecating, snarky asides. After matters take a surprisingly positive turn in one tale, for instance, one of our hosts notes that not all of fairy tales have sad endings. Another chimes in, "Only the good ones." Attitude rules here. An eye-roll often gets a bigger reaction than a punchline.

There's a kick, too, in the range of shapes and sizes in the cast, including a dark-eyed boy in a would-be acrobatic troupe sporting a sign pleading for help since this is not his real family. As its trio of ringmasters, Asaykwee is joined by the leaders of two other up-and-coming, innovative professional theaters, NoExit's Georgeanna Smith and Eclectic Pond's Thomas Cardwell. Each makes a strong presense in a show that doesn't care a whit about character development.  Together they bring a dark, detached sexuality the likes of which is rarely seen on area stages. But the characters are essentially the same in the opening number as they are in the finale. Like a late-night joy ride, "ZirkusGrimm" doesn't really go anywhere, but it has edgy fun along the way.

What the show doesn't have is an editor. And with an overabundance of ideas, cast members, songs and stories, it needs one. As with attempts to theatricalize Edward Gorey's grim stories, "ZirkusGrimm" feels randomly constructed.

Based on its proven ability this summer to draw sell-out crowds, a revival wouldn't be surprising. Here's hoping the next time the "Zirkus" comes to town, it surgically tightens its text and clarifies its songs while keeping the same creepy spirit. In the meantime, kudos to Asaykwee and company for crafting an unexpectedly entertaining evening on the dark side.

Your thoughts?


Post a comment to this blog

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
  1. Angela IS the best RD

  2. We are a nation of speed. All of our younger lives are filled with deadlines, quotas and bottom lines. We start to ease out of the pressured rat-race when we finally see "retirement." The most enjoyable travel on the planet is passenger rail service. Indy to Chicago does not beat Megabus or Southwest Airlines in speed. Passenger rail however has the best seating, mammoth legroon, seat backs that recline to more than 45 degrees and employers that really want you to return as a customer. Indiana municipalities need to maintain subsidies to support this transportation mode. Losing it is loss for all of us.

  3. Good day! I just want to testify how i got my loan from Mr. Eric Lefkofsky after i applied several times from various loan lenders who claimed to also testify right in this forum,i thought the testimonies where real and i applied but they never gave me loan. I was in need of an urgent loan to start a business and i applied from various loan lenders who promised to help but they never gave me the loan. Until a friend of mine introduce me to this popular Mr. Eric Lefkofsky who promised to help me and indeed he did as he promised without any form of delay. I never thought there are still reliable loan lenders until i met Mr. Eric lefkofsky who indeed helped me with the loan and changed my belief. I promised to share this testimony after I got my loan. I don't know if you are in any way in need of a genuine and urgent loan,free feel to contact Mr. Eric Lefkofsky via their email{}

  4. Its a THUG issue. Bleecker Street and NYX are thug bars. They attract thugs of all races. Places that attract thugs need to be kicked out of Broad Ripple. Ain't nobody got time for that!

  5. Hello everyone, My name is Marian Gareth, I am from the Texas, United State, am here to testify of how i got my loan from Mr Andre Frank {} after i applied Two times from various loan lenders who claimed to be lenders right in this forum,i thought their lending where real and i applied but they never gave me loan. I was in need of an urgent loan to start a business and i applied from various loan lenders who promised to help but they never gave me the loan.Until a friend of mine introduce me to Mr Andre Frank the C.E.O of Andre Frank Loan Company who promised to help me with a loan of my desire and he really did as he promised without any form of delay, I never thought there are still reliable loan lenders until i met Mr Andre Frank, who really help me with my loan and changed my lief for better. I don't know if you are in need of an urgent loan, free feel to contact Mr Andre Frank on his email{} for help