I spent Wednesday night amongst the "freaks" at High Performance Rodeo’s distinct Freak Show — and you know what? I liked it. I really liked it.
The unique thing about Swallow-A-Bicycle Theatre's Freak Show — now in its fourth year of being part of the HPR — is that it’s not so much a singular performance as it is a tour of performances set throughout the hidden stairways, old cargo elevators and boiler rooms of the Epcor Centre.
Two eccentric, yet endearing, tour guides create a plot of why they are leading you to the deepest, darkest corners of the centre, and often provide almost improvised comic relief throughout the hour or so tour.
There are three tours to choose from and I began my first Freak Show odyssey with The Forbidden Spectacle version, which left me wide-eyed and thirsting for more.
Forbidden Spectacle is a cabaret of disconnected performances throughout the building that feature puppets, video, music, actors, dancers and of course, burlesque dancers, which judging by the reaction was everyone’s personal favourite.
Yes, these performers are supposed to be "freaks," but they are very talented freaks and transform the Epcor Centre into something you have never seen before and need to see again.
It’s easy to see why the show is quickly becoming a staple of the HPR, now in its 25th year itself. It is the definition of strange yet it’s full of temptation and curiosity.
I’ll definitely be checking out the other two versions, Redux: Into the Abyss and Temptation & Transgression before the end of the rodeo just to see what else these performers have to offer.
If you're thinking of checking any of these shows out, they only run until Saturday, January 15th, with several performances a night — so you better get at it!