Bonn · The main actors in the new show "Freaks" at the GOP Variety Theatre in Bonn are both strange and crazy. But the misfits are well received by the audience and have some surprises in store.
They are strange, they are crazy, they are different: the bearded lady and the spider woman, the sword swallower and the northmen, the jester and the madwoman. They all form that gang of outsiders that the GOP is bringing onto the stage in its new show "Freaks".
Together they celebrate the unusual and unique by transforming Bonn's variety theatre into a madhouse where everything is allowed. At the premiere, this approach is definitely appreciated, thanks to strong characters - and some breathtaking acts.
The program was inspired by the now legendary cabinet of curiosities of circus pioneer P. T. Barnum, whose story was made into a musical film in 2017, "The Greatest Showman". But in contrast to the "American Museum" at the end of the 19th century, today's freaks cannot be showcased, but rather celebrated.
Much of what they show is artistry at the highest level, such as the dagger-tip number of the two musclemen Vladimir Snitko and Vladimir Karvatyuk.
Even without this balancing act, the two Ukrainians would be among the highlights of the show, but they are simply too good at their art. It is unbelievable with what ease and calmness they heave themselves up into the air, deliberately without swing and without hurry.
Later on they also whirl their partner Kateryna through the air. Strong - but the really unusual figures are different. The spider woman Estrella, for example, who scurries across the stage almost eerily, or the all around tattooed fakir diva Fibi, who without hesitation lets long blades disappear into her throat.
The audience is taken with this freak show, even if not every character fits equally into the concept. But those who do get the most applause. Vanessa Collini is received euphorically, she plays the madwoman from the psychiatric ward masterfully.
Especially her interplay with Sébastien Tardif provides for wonderfully weird moments: The charming clown, who sometimes brings victims from the audience onto the stage and in doing so passes the next embarrassment by a hair's breadth.
He tries to flirt with the crazy characters and quickly has to realize that this is not at all as easy and certainly not as harmless as first assumed.
However, a well-composed, poetic-magical plot such as in "Toys" is omitted in "Freaks". Instead, a master of ceremonies pulls the strings: Elyas Khan, an electrifying appearance all in white, a virtuoso on bass and a maestro on effects.
He underscores each scene with idiosyncratic sounds, with distorted noises and endless loops, with pulsating grooves and with electronic phrases. Anyone who can relate to this can still discover a circus world that is as grotesque as it is beautiful, with real unique creations that may not be enchanting, but they will fascinate audiences until May 3.
During the Easter holidays of NRW and Rhineland-Palatinate, "Freaks" is free of charge for children up to 14 years of age when accompanied by a regular paying adult. Orig. text: Thomas Kölsch Translation: Carol Kloeppel