2016 Philadelphia Fringe Festival Review: ‘Spherus’

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Greg Kennedy bills himself as an “Innovative Juggler,” and he lives up to that billing in Spherus, his show now running as part of the 201 Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Kennedy’s style is rooted in conventional juggling – he’ll juggle a few balls, then keep adding more and more until you nearly get dizzy watching it all. His discipline alone is impressive. But in Spherus, he uses light, music, unconventional props, and acrobatics to make an atmospheric

Greg Kennedy (bottom) with Christine Morano, and Rachel Lancaster. Photo by Colleen Joy.
Greg Kennedy (bottom) with Christine Morano, and Rachel Lancaster. Photo by Colleen Joy.

At several points in this hour-long show, Kennedy juggles balls that are lit up from within, all with different bright colors, and you’ll find yourself following the light trails the balls leave behind as much as you’re following the balls. He uses fluorescent rods to create patterns of light, spinning them so fast that they look like a wheel. He and his co-stars move ribbons and silks through the air with video projected across them to alter their appearance. (Jeff Bethea is the show’s video projection artist.)

In effect, Kennedy is playing with light and air to change the audience’s perspective on everyday objects. And he keeps the surprises coming: the size of his props varies throughout the show – from a gigantic inverted cone that barely fits through the proscenium arch all the way down to a series of nested boxes that are only a few inches high.

Clad in black t-shirt, pants and shoes, Kennedy stays silent throughout the show. With a serious, determined look on his face, he lets his actions do the talking, though he does give brief speeches before and after the show. (Techno trance music fills the air, giving the proceedings a sense of urgency.)

And he’s not the only performer in Spherus – aerial dancers Rachel Lancaster and Christine Morano get plenty of time onstage too. They ably assist Kennedy in his routines, and they get a few moments in the spotlight too that are as dazzling as Kennedy’s but in a very different way. In one scene, they hang at the same time from an aerial hoop, with Morano hanging only by her feet.

Christine Morano and Rachel Lancaster. Photo by Brynna Raine.
Christine Morano and Rachel Lancaster. Photo by Brynna Raine.

A few of the more grounded routines for Lancaster and Morano seemed like time-fillers (like the one where they spend several minutes reconfiguring metal frames). But you won’t mind the slow parts, knowing that something that will make you smile is right around the corner.

Brynna Raines’ direction keeps the proceeding moving as swiftly as those glowing globes Kennedy moves through the air with such skill and ingenuity.

Running Time: Approximately 60 minutes, with no intermission.

Spherus runs through September 25, 2016 at The 2016 Philadelphia Fringe Festival performing at Philadelphia School of Circus Arts – 5904 Greene Street, in Philadelphia, PA. For tickets, call the box office at (215) 413 1318, or purchase them online.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1554.gif

BEST OF THE 2016 PHILADELPHIA FRINGE!