As the name suggests, Trash Test Dummies builds itself around trash. Or, more specifically, the bins that trash should go into. These bins are hidden in, jumped on, ridden, drummed, and made home to many hidden treasures revealed over the course of the show.
The clowning show really flies when it brings the audience in on the action: two of the men are chased through the crowd, picking up children to hide behind. A trash bag explodes, sending plastic balls throughout the whole tent, an epic ball fight ensuing.
Trash Test Dummies uses a plethora of musical references and, if the specifics of Swan Lake or 2001 A Space Odyssey aren’t fully appreciated by the children, the visual play is. Nonetheless, the opening from The Lion King brings cheers, and ‘Everything is Awesome’ has people singing along instantly.
Mishaps and stupidity are part of the act, but these are very skilled circus performers. Many of the best moments appear as a surprise: it’s not the balancing acrobatics that receive the biggest cheers, but an unexpected one-handed cartwheel. The hat juggling is fun, well choreographed and technically skilled, but it’s when ping-pong balls appear suddenly, juggled from a mouth, that the crowd really gets excited.
These dummies are always at their finest when they’re at their bins, relishing in the image of circus and garbage. The kids get a particular kick out of it, too.