What do superheroes, beer, Big Bertha and Canada have in common? They are the disparate elements of Teatro ZinZanni’s high-energy summer show, The Return of Chaos, which connects the dots on a complicated Seattle superhero story through a series of spectacular circus acts. In the end — in true ZinZanni fashion — the plot doesn’t quite add up. But after you’ve oohed and ahhed at the netless trapeze act, the blues tap dancer and the glowing hula hoop artist – who cares? The laughs are as well-earned as the gasps.
In the first few minutes of the show, the audience is introduced to the plot set-up and the main characters. On the good side are Jet City superheroes, a small club of caped crusaders such as Mono Man (“arrives in two minutes,” ahem, played by Joel Salom), Tap Man (French acrobat Mickael Bajazet) and Captain Canada. Other key characters include Seattle’s bike-crazy mayor — who has just discovered what is blocking Big Bertha — as well reporter Nelly Nance, who, it turns out, has a Space-Needle-size crush on the mayor and Sparkle Danger (Anki Albertsson), a glittering, headdresss-adorned torch singer.
On the evil side: a small metal robot dog named Eric the Evil Overlord, two brothers called Doom and Gloom (The Collins Brothers, Matthias Fischer and Collin Eschenburg) and a more entertaining pair of sisters, incuding a lithe, high-heeled-boot wearing redhead that turns out to be one of the show’s star acrobats and a beehive-hairdo-wearing transvestite (Kevin Kent). (They have what seems to be a dog fetish.)
The only other thing you really need to remember about the plot is that it turns out a six-pack of beer was blocking the tunnel, and Eric the Evil Overlord really wants that beer back and will do anything to get it (including kidnap the mayor).
Now ZinZanni shows are never built on plot but to me, this particular narrative seemed even less substantial than other shows I’ve seen. But, let’s move on to the acts – which are among the best I’ve seen at ZinZanni. Superhero Tap Man, it turns out (French acrobat Mickael Bajazet), is a spectacular tap dancer; I could watched him tap to the jazzy blues (well performed by the live ZinZanni orchestra) all night. Doom and Gloom are kings of the trapeze. Two other favorites included the breathtaking pole act of another French acrobat (Domitil Ailot) and the trapeze act by the Seattle mayor character and Nelly Nance, who shed their somewhat dorky characters to blow us all away with their catches, falls and flips (no net, mind you!)
One small nitpick: Juggler Joel Salom did an excellent and very funny routine, where his pants drop down at one point and he has to wriggle his way, while juggling, to being fully dressed. But it was very close to a routine we saw in a previous show.
Overall, if you can manage a splurge, the combo of stupendous entertainment and a multi-course dinner at ZinZanni is a a no-fail date night. If you organized it for your partner (or friend) you would definitely be a Seattle superhero.
If you go ...
When: Through Sept. 13, 2015; show is three hours long and includes a five-course meal
Where: Teatro ZinZanni, 222 Mercer St., Seattle
Tickets: $99–$174. Buy tickets here.