Absinthe, La Vie, Weimar New York; Pier 17 South Street Seaport
New Yorkers are once again treated to flashbacks of European pleasures at the Fulton Fish Market this summer: a rollicking beer garden, a haunting tent of mirrors and a stage of naughty theatrics in the Weimar-era tradition—the Spiegelworld. In residence are Absinthe, last year's critically acclaimed circus with a new cast, and La Vie, a raw burlesque show making its world premiere.
Many of the cast-members have done stints in Cirque du Soleil, and both productions showcase jaw-dropping efforts of physical aptitude, a signature of the world-renowned company. Absinthe, the more stylish of the two shows, especially rouses spectators with its feats of flexibility, causing squirming and ducking from watching bodies fly through the tiny space. La Vie, however, gives new meaning to "death-defying." That the macabre, athletic journey through the after-life is unpolished is no criticism. The grit of the concept, and shallowness of the characters with emotional, physical and mental handicaps, give it the edge of something you'd expect to see on the stage of an avant-garde Berlin basement in 1932. If La Vie is speakeasy, Absinthe is Supper Club.
Neither show could be considered family-friendly, but both are certainly "family"-friendly. While La Vie has got some nudity, Absinthe is the more sexually forthright of the two. Duo Scarlette (Marieve Hemond and Annie-Kim Dery) twist, undulate and intertwine in a Sapphic trapeze act that is alone worth the trip. Hosted by The Gazillionaire (Voki Kalfayan), he and his adorable sidekick Penny (Anais Thomassian) accost audience members about their sexual orientation. A hand-puppet sketch is dirty and hilarious. In La Vie, a voluptuous librarian type lets loose. And even the men, abs and biceps bare and at work, are a wonder to watch.
In addition to Spiegelworld's resident shows, the tent welcomes back Weimar New York, a variety show that juxtaposes traditional Weimar-era cabaret with contemporary, politically tempered acts. The July show, the first of three sessions this summer, featured performances from one of GO's 2007 "Women We Love" Maine, Amy G of the Daredevil Opera Company (who took our breath away with a kazoo performance of "America the Beautiful" that came from orifices besides her mouth) and Tangerine Jones in blackface. Don't miss the next two installments, Aug 28 and Sept 18: Justin Bond hosts, and in August, the quirky vegan songstress, Nellie McKay, performs.