It takes chutzpah to invite a critic to review a show before it officially opens. You must either be very confident in your show or you think it is worth the risk. In the preview performance of SpinS from circus artist Jonoah Bailin at the Havana Theatre last night, it is a bit of both.
Billed largely as a unicycling/juggling variety show, Bailin mostly delivers on this front with some impressive tricks while riding his unicycle in the tiny Havana performance space. Watching him unpack his suitcase or undress without ever dismounting is worthy of the constant acknowledgement he asks of his audience. His juggling skills were often just as impressive, although he fumbled a few tricks including what could have been a show-stopper with the diabolo.
There is also a bit of magic and some terrible puns. The latter is perhaps unsurprising knowing Bailin teaches circus to children when he isn’t on the road with his show.
There are also a couple of attempts at storytelling, and this is perhaps the most disappointing part of SpinS as Bailin never quite finishes his stories. Instead, he moves on to his next trick.
Bailin is both charming and is working hard given the sweat pouring from his body. His invitations to help with some of his tricks are a great way to help break down the barrier between audience and performer. But the show lacks a central focus and that should come from the storytelling.
SpinS opens at the Vancouver Fringe Festival on September 5 at The Nest (1398 Cartwright, Granville Island), continuing through September 15. Visit vancouverfringe.com for tickets and information.