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Flynn Creek Circus Goes Down the Rabbit Hole

A hot and bothered rabbit and a troop of acrobats highlight the 21+ circus show

The Rabbit is out of the hat and she wants some action. Animal control is on the scene, face to face with a gang of nihilist bunnies who are ready to pounce. The Flynn Creek Circus was set up in a big, red and white circus tent in the Creamery District of Arcata.

The inside of the tent was warm. The audience’s voices were loud under the tent’s striped skin. The stage lights glowed a harsh, dull silver. A three person band charged with a buzz of anticipation playing a staccato drum, a perpetual accordion and a melodic guitar. A five-foot tall, eight-foot wide, magnificent red hat sat on the corner of the stage, otherwise known as the the magician’s hat.

The stage lights flashed and a hush fell over the crowd. After all eyes turned to the stage, the drum roll crescendoed into a crash as the curtains parted. Out came a sharp dressed man in a red suit who held a deck of cards in his hand.

The Flynn Creek Circus was set up in a red and white striped tent. The ticket booth was the eclectic trailer the left. | Photo by Collin Slavey

“You know what I am going to say next?” he said to the audience with a smile on his face. “Pick a card.”

The mix of sleight of hand, bravado and stage magic was just the start of the show. Popcorn and booze were also on the menu. After the magician’s magic act, Grenda the Science Chick made her appearance on stage with a platter ringed in butter shots.

“The story comes first,” Grenda said. “It’s what makes us different. The art director comes up with a story and makes acts serving the story. It adds a lot to think about. You wonder what’s next and become more invested in the characters.”

That evening was the 21-and-over show. The story was about the magician’s rabbit who had figured out how to get herself out of his hat. Life in a hat is awfully lonely, and she was desperately tense after a solitary life. She was on a mission to do what rabbits do best: reproduce.

“I’ve been in that hat for so long,” the Rabbit said. “Do you know how tough it is to be in a hat your whole life? Oh, my god it’s dreadful! I am so pent up. I have got to find me a carrot to chew on.”

Cue the nihilist bunnies. Animal control was on their tail with malicious intent. The magician’s rabbit was roped into the conflict on stage and the gang decided to make a stand as they whipped out K-bar carrots. Their performance devolved into a harrowing knife act and they were not messing around. The nihilists didn’t have a hare in the world. They made an acrobatic escape, bringing the magician’s bunny with them.

Nick Harden doubled as animal control and ticket salesman. Here he is grimacing after the credit card reader stopped working. | Photo by Collin Slavey

Nick and Wendy Harden played classic opponents: animal control and a stray cat. The duo did a unicycle act with acrobatics and headstands. It was a regular game of cat and mouse around the stage, their faces tight in concentration as Nick wheeled around the stage while Wendy maneuvered over his body in an impressive display of poise and balance. Clearly the duo has put years into their act.

“We were sold out the first night. I hope we can get you a ticket tonight,” Harden said. “Wendy stands on my head during our unicycle act.”

As the show came to a close, the magician performed his final act. It was an arcane rope act where he hoisted himself up and down, suspended 30 feet off the ground. He tied up the loose ends with his rabbit partner and encouraged her to find herself. The magician’s rabbit concluded the show with a descent into general apathy as the nihilist bunnies welcomed her into their ranks.

“Nothing really matters,” she said with a wink. “So I’m going to go get what I can get while I can get it. Know what I’m saying?”

The Flynn Creek Circus is based in Mendocino. The circus tours the North Coast and Oregon during summer, while the weather permits it. The 2019 season is halfway through and August 18 was the final show performed in Arcata this time around. Not to worry though, the next local shows will be in Fortuna on September 5, 6, 7 and 8. Tickets can be bought online or at the door.

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