WATER ON MARS Show Review by Andrea Santo Felcone
On Friday, February 10, my husband and I enjoyed the pleasure of a date night spent at The New Victory Theater taking in the sights and sounds of a delightfully-unique juggling show–WATER ON MARS. In this show, The New Victory Theater is presenting its very first-ever all juggling show—but to say this is just juggling, is to underestimate the art, creativity, and humor of the performance.
In good form, I made sure to unwrap my lozenges before show time, intending not to disturb the concentration of the jugglers, once the show began. This concern seemed laughable when the show actually started. These three jugglers (“PLASTIC BOOM” as they are known collectively) Patrik Elmnert (SWE), Wes Peden (USA), and Tony Pezzo (USA) are award-winning jugglers—and easily proved they could (and would) juggle through any circumstance. Elmnert and Peden even hold the Guinness World Record for Most Club Passes Caught by a Duo Whilst Juggling (13 clubs and 26 catches). The show’s program indicates they once juggled while a man accidentally walked through their routine—and didn’t miss a beat.
Initially, my husband and I were intrigued by the “less is more” stage set-up. Against a sparse black backdrop, there were a couple of strings of LED lights, and of all things–a piñata floating center stage. What occupies the most space are all manner of juggling props seemingly scattered about (you will later realize there’s a definite method to the apparent disorder). This sets the stage for a show that is very fresh and hip–electro-pop music plays in the background and pairs nicely with the on-stage action.
The performance is broken into 12 acts. Each act has a different “theme” that keeps things interesting. There are daring throws and unexpected catches, as typical juggling equipment (rings, balls, and clubs) take flight along with everyday household items. A storage bin is employed in ways you will not believe (in one instance: they think OUTSIDE the box, by juggling INSIDE the bin). The juggling clubs and rings–when flying with this kind of artistry and precision—suggest the appearance of other things: colorful feathers, geometric shapes, hypnotic streaks of neon. Flat objects start to look like spheres. Sometimes things fall, but they fall with intention, and this adds to the group’s trademark quality: their humor. As they juggle, and toss, complete acrobatic feats, they find time to … make lemonade. They playfully test each other’s limits (and the limits of the art); when one tapes another’s arms together, (through taped arms), he continues juggling. Their playfulness is infectious.
For a very brief interactive moment, they juggle over the audience (you feel for a minute what it is like under one of those juggling balls—and it takes your breath away). The performance builds to a crescendo as more and more everyday objects are brought in—plastic water bottles uncapped and full of water (when juggled)–take on an almost fountain-like quality. Each time you think you’ve “seen it all,” something new and unexpected happens.
WATER ON MARS was inspired by, and named for, the excitement of discovering something new and surprising. It lives up to its name. It will leave you mesmerized. PLASTIC BOOM amazes in their creativity, athleticism, and their synchronicity. It looks like they juggle their way through life without a care in the world. And that’s how the show makes you feel—because during the show’s 55-minute running time—you, too, will toss your cares away.
Note: The children in the audience were shrieking with delight. (We plan to see the show again—this time with our kids.)
Cast/Jugglers: “Plastic Boom”: Patrik Elmnert, Wes Peden, Tony Pezzo (creators & performers)
Artistic Consultant: Jay Gilligan
Lighting Designer: Guy Dickens
Production Stage Manager/Technical Supervisor: Luis E. Santiago
Recommended for everyone ages 5 and up. (No intermission).
WATER ON MARS runs only through Sunday, February 26, 2017 at The New Victory Theater:
209 West 42nd Street, NY, NY: Tickets are $16-$38 based on seats; for New Victory Members tickets are $10-$25 based on seats. Tickets can be purchased online: www.newvictory.org.