Shurum Burum Jazz Circus conceived and composed by David Buchbinder, co-directed by Mark Christmann, with Buchbinder, Kayt Lucas, Roula Said and others. Presented by Buchbinder at the Stone Distillery (55 Mill). Runs to October 17, Thursday-Sunday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $32. 416-872-1212. Rating: NN Rating: NN
You'd think that with three lev- els of government funding, an 11-piece jazz band, a half-dozen circus artists and a choreographer, David Buchbinder and his Shurum Burum Jazz Circus could hire a director. The lack of a single vision reduces this ambitious multimedia show at the Distillery District to two and a half hours of head-turning, repetitive and confusing entertainment.
At the Stone Distillery, Buchbinder and his band - a solid ensemble that's the best reason to go - perform onstage while an uneven troupe of acrobats do things like climb ropes, arch their lithe bodies inside suspended rings and climb walls while in harnesses.
The audience is seated in various groupings throughout the space, but the lighting and sound don't always make it clear where we should be looking. At the band? At one of the acrobats doing something in shadow?
As a result, we twist our heads and bodies constantly, trying to see something, anything.
Note to producers: maybe admission should come with a complimentary post-show neck massage.
All this would be forgivable if we were offered something original to look at. But the artists aren't content to show us an image once or twice if they can give it to us a dozen times.
What's worse, wheeling your head around looking for something to see detracts from simply enjoying the music. A low point comes when dancer Roula Said begins heaving her breasts up and down onstage, distracting us from Buchbinder's perfectly good flugelhorn solo.
There are some decent moments, including an act-one closer with fire ropes, a set piece with candelabra and a string trio that magically forms in the centre of the space to perform a haunting musical number.
But there's no arc or build to the show, and whatever themes are present in the hybrid jazz music aren't there in the movement.
A big disappointment.