Isabella Rossellini is wacky. Like super wacky. We knew this already, from her famous ‘Green Porno’ series of short films, in which she teaches us about the sexual behaviors of various animals and insects, with her in costume (and fully in character) as the mating animals and insects. It’s RIDONK. Super informative and creative, yes, but it’ll make you hella uncomfortable. That series cemented Isabella as an artistic free spirit, unafraid to look like a complete goof in furtherance of her surreally funny work. If you didn’t know this already, seeing her live will confirm oh yeah, she’s quite the innovative actress and also a straight nutter. And she’s AWESOME. Most importantly, her dog is adorable.
Rossellini, dressed like a ringmaster in a Picasso painting, jumps back and forth between presentation styles during the show, with the help of her assistant, Schuyler Beeman (no relation to Stan). She shares the work of the aforementioned scientists by referring to their cartoon busts on pedestals; she talks about her love for animals; she plays weird short films (including a clip from ‘Green Porno’); she plays home movies showing her various dogs throughout her life (the best part); she uses stuffed animals and children’s toys to talk about the animal kingdom. Beeman, dressed in a beekeeper outfit that’s been painted black, comes on and offstage with various props or sometimes to act as an animal himself, and he’s naturally pretty comedic so it’s always more fun when he’s around. There’s no real clear way to describe what was happening on the stage or what it’s about. The format is akin to her ‘Green Porno’ films – a series of shorts about the same general subject but different in tone and design.
The inconsistent presentation makes the whole show feel disjointed, and its central message or point confused, but it’s a pleasure to watch Isabella. She obviously loves animals (yay) and loves sharing her thoughts about them with the world. More than anything, though, the Circus is a pleasure because of her dog. Her dog is SO FORKING ADORABLE, and honestly I have no regrets about paying $34 (that’s pounddollars) to watch her and Beeman play with the doggo for 75 minutes. My only regret is that I didn’t storm the stage to pet that wittle face myself. Playing Pan, short for Peter Pan, her dog (I think the real name is Darcy?) comes on and off stage (courtesy of Beeman) dressed in adorable costumes (that poor dog) ranging from sheep to chicken to lion and it is wonderful. I was making audible squee noises but you know what, so was everyone. If anyone was doing a social experiment to see if dog lovers would pay money to literally just watch a dog live onstage and not even be able to pet him, the answer is yes. I almost stage doored for the dog but decided that would be weird. I just love dogs guys okay.
Pan the adorable doggo absolutely makes the show (she can roll over SO well), and it’s wonderful to see her get so many treats (I was so happy for her). But even without Pan’s presence, the Circus is a good time. Isabella is a special kind of old-fashioned movie star who has wriggled out of her former role (while dressed as a caterpillar probably) and is creating extraordinarily unique works in a way that no one else at her level of fame or respectability could. Though it’s likely more a question of ‘would.’
Link Link Circus is playing in Belfast next week. for the rest of you, the entirety of ‘Green Porno’ is on YouTube.