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Photo: Jen Derbech

Fringe Review: Quantum Calamity

By Brian Carroll on June 17, 2019

Quantum Calamity
by Aerial Antics
44min / G / Comedy / Sci-Fi / Circus

Every year I hope there will be a really good family show at the Ottawa Fringe. This year my prayers have been answered.

I know that’s a pretty bold statement, but stick with me folks while I explain.

Local troupe, Aerial Antics, puts seven (!) aerial acrobats on stage. Be prepared to applaud. The sold-out Father’s Day crowd found lots of impressive acrobatics to enjoy. The troupe operates under a big rig that suspends a pair of wide silk ribbons and a body-sized steel hoop. The aerialists perform solos, duos and trios. Each routine is different. There’s even something I’ve never seen any aerialist do on silks: a comedy routine! Harold Lloyd would approve.

This is a real crowd pleaser. Sunday’s audience was almost all ages, with at least one-third kids and teenagers. The applause was spontaneous and generous, accompanied by many wows and gasps.

Aerial Antics are clearly accomplished show people. They know how important first impressions are. Although they usually perform outdoors, they’ve tuned the show to take advantage of the black box LabO theatre. The show began with coloured LED hoops entering the pitch black room. When the Doctor Who Tardis sounds and Star Wars music started, the audience was pumped with anticipation.

This is a real crowd pleaser… The applause was spontaneous and generous, accompanied by many wows and gasps.

This being (nominally) a theatre festival, there’s even a plot to tie the action together. Admittedly it’s a little cheesy, but nobody in the audience seemed to mind and they played along enthusiastically with the early breaking of the fourth wall.

There’s a three-person crew of Victorian time travellers dressed in steampunk outfits (goggles, bowler hat, leather balloonists’ caps, and corsets). They are Dr. Claire Brown, a physical chronometric specialist, her protegé Veda, and the ostensibly less-than-brilliant Millicent, who Dr. Brown won in a poker game. The aerial rig is their Wavefield Temporal Fluctionator. It operates on a quantum level, interacting with gravitational waves. Dr. Brown is a bit surprised to have landed in 2019, and even more surprised to hear that no one knows who she is.

After the crew makes repairs, they say farewell to 2019, only to be intercepted by a three-person team, in matching spandex uniforms, from the bureaucratic Time Police. The time machine has been detected running overweight and Dr. Brown is suspected of transporting freight with a passenger-only permit. The Time Police make a thorough search, in three dimensions, of the vehicle.

There’s a seventh person on stage, but to tell you more would reveal spoilers.

Cheesy plot or no, I can’t imagine a happier family audience. Bring friends. Bring kids. Bring yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

Note: kids need to be old enough to sit through a 44-minute show.


Quantum Calamity by Aerial Antics is playing at LabO (10 Daly Ave) until Saturday June 22, 2019. Tickets cost $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.

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