Bananaman leads the Strong Jugglers in a dance that began their show. Photo by Drue Sokol.

This past Saturday in the May Room, at “The Strong Jugglers Go Bananas,” the group ensured audience enthusiasm with a constant display of juggling prowess.

Between routines, the show was spaced with an ongoing narrative. The storyline followed the adventures of the super-hero Bananaman, played by Take Five Scholar Rafi Benjamin, in his crusade to defeat his arch-nemesis Orangeman, played by junior Adam Lanman. Throughout the show, Orangeman plotted to ruin the Jugglers’ performances by dropping banana peels, tying them up and otherwise causing mayhem. In each of his scenes, Lanman unleashed a diabolic cackle, in a perfect caricature of classic comic book villains.

For better or worse, the jugglers never missed an opportunity throughout the show to squeeze in additional banana-themed puns. Everything from the music — which featured the songs “Bananaphone,” “Banana Pilates” and “Do You Want A Banana?” — to their bright yellow shirts complemented this motif. Considering this tight constraint, they were able to craft an impressive banana-centric plot. However, in the end it was clear that the storyline served as little more than filler material, and it seemed to be entirely predicated on a cringe-worthy, banana-centric knock-knock joke: “Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?”

The show heavily emphasized audience participation. In one scene, a volunteer was recruited to become Orangeman’s sidekick, Clementine, and help spread evil. In another instance, the Jugglers called everyone to their feet to make them “go bananas” with a simple dance. These stunts were clearly intended to maintain audience attention, but in the end only seemed gimmicky.

In any case, the juggling alone was captivating enough make the whole experience worthwhile. Among the many highlights of the performance, junior Rebecca Levin and sophomore Stefanie Milner donned berets and performed a duet. They mimed a complicated routine, tossing balls under their legs, onto their heads and into their hats with effortless precision.

The evening didn’t consist entirely of juggling, though, and other acrobatic feats also took center stage. Sophomore Sarah Smith performed an entertaining unicycle solo, dipping her cycle into precarious leans and hopping it back and forth. At another point in the show a total of seven jugglers unicycled together simultaneously, artfully circling around each other in figure eights.

At one point, Lanman returned — without his super villain disguise — to perform a complicated ring routine, incorporating all of his appendages. While this act included many unfortunate blunders, the routine demonstrated clear technical difficulty. In his impressive coup de grace, Lanman redeemed himself and tossed five rings into the air, catching them all.

Even in the rare moments when they faltered — unicycles tumbled, clubs slipped and diabolos smashed into the ground — the Jugglers kept bright smiles on their faces and continued their performance with unfailing dedication. When it comes down to it, the Strong Jugglers certainly didn’t drop the ball.

Raybin is a member of the class of 2012.



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