Review: Almost 5: An Office Life (Circus) Story | Circus Freaks | Bath House Cultural Center

It's 5 O'Clock Everywhere

Circus Freaks offers a wordless piece of circus arts and music, Almost 5: An Office Life (Circus) Story, at the Bath House Cultural Center.

published Sunday, January 25, 2015

Photo: John Allen Grant
Almost 5: An Office Life (Circus) Story, presented by Circus Freaks at the Bath House Cultural Center

Dallas — Office workers deepen their relationships throughout a workday as they wile away the boredom by using juggling, floor acrobatics, and general clowning. Such is the slender plot upon which Almost 5 – An Office Life (Circus) Story hangs. The 90-minute theatrical mélange of circus arts and music at the Bath House Cultural Center.

Created and presented by Circus Freaks, known for their wildly creative weekly Open Stage weekly event, Almost 5 was written by head Freak Russ Sharek. Or can you say that something is written when it is nearly wordless?

With a little bit of pantomime and a lot of tossing things around, Circus Freaks gets across the plot of a shy and awkward administrative worker being romanced by a sweet mailroom clerk. It unfurls in between bouts of interaction with two managers, one stern and the other goofy. Bright keyboard music by Emmeline sets the cirque mood.

Almost 5 rests on Sharek’s clowning, which has deepened over time, with a little bit of pathos here and a touch of melancholy there, topped with a shrugged acceptance of human lunacy. In his role as office janitor, dressed in an oversized grey jumpsuit and huge black clown shoes, he literally sweeps the show along.

The show begins with audience interaction. A shoe was tossed my direction as I entered the theater; I then returned it to the person from whose foot it had been lifted. Then we were all offered a chance to play bongos before the cast arrived for work by climbing over the audience rows and into an office set of industrial gray dominated by a huge clock.

I would have liked to see much more juggling from Alan Blakely as the mail clerk, who resonates vaudeville snazziness. The same with Rachel Hullett, all willowy with red hair and porcelain skin, who had but a short Hula hoop bit.

Besides Sharek’s contact juggling of six small glass spheres, the centerpiece is an argument between Courtney Vanous’ stern boss and Scott Renkes as the overworked and over-caffeinated programmer. It played out via cirque-style floor acrobatics with impressive shows of strength.

But the ending just sort of peters out, though a clever surprise was tucked in it. Marie Martin’s billowing flag work, perhaps meant to evoke the liberation of the office workers, didn’t gel. Performers depart at the end of shift with a whimper, leaving the audience confused.

The Dallas theatrical scene embraces a growing love of solo performance and fringe. But it lags in exploring truly alternative ways of presenting narrative (though Jeff Swearingen’s upcoming tap-dance drama Ringmaster Disaster for Rhythmic Souls could be an exception). This makes Almost 5 a significant foray.

After the show, the lobby was exceedingly animated with Circus Freaks and their exuberant fans posing for photos. Outside from the parking lot, the Crescent Moon hung like a Cheshire Cat smile over the Bath House—a fitting end to a fine and fun evening.


Video: Here's an example of floor acrobatics by Circus Freaks' Scott Renkes in the piece "Quetzalcoatl."

  Thanks For Reading

Dates, Prices, & Other Details

View the Article Slideshow

Comment on this Article

Share this article on Social Media
Click or Swipe to close
It's 5 O'Clock Everywhere
Circus Freaks offers a wordless piece of circus arts and music, Almost 5: An Office Life (Circus) Story, at the Bath House Cultural Center.
by Amy Martin

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :