Piece Comment

Review of Circus Life: To Catch the Quad

This documentary illustrates circus life by sharing the stories of two trapeze artists, a 1920s star, Alfredo Cadona, and a contemporary artist, Jill Pages, who is attempting execute a quadruple somersault.

The piece is deceptively simple. It tells the complex and emotional story knitting together historical and contemporary circus performers. The piece does a much better job of expressing life in the 20s-era circus and Cadona's colorful world, with only cursory treatment of the contemporary circus life.

Cadona didn't use a mechanic--the safety belt that protects the flier from falling to the ground. He felt it would help him master his triple somersault. While contemporary circus life is much more hospitable than the past, time has only raised the bar (so to speak) on circus stunts. Pages is the only woman in the world to complete a three-and-a-half turn somersault. When she is introduced, the documentary switches focus--zeroing in on Pages' ego (in the psychological sense), with less emphasis on the circus life that surrounds here. The tragic end of Cadona's career is interwoven with Page's fears about achieving her dream--the elusive quadruple somersault.

The producer/narrator's writing is impeccable, but the delivery style sounds a little dated. The production and mixing is about as good as it gets.

This would be an excellent choice for a stand-alone offering in a rotating slot or as part of a larger program. Too bad there isn't a promo available here.