Roll up, roll up! The Big Top has arrived in the West End! Ever since seeing Zippos at Christmas at the Winter Wonderland with the kids (click here), I have been counting down the days to seeing the Zippos adult show. No, not that sort of adult show, love. There is an element of exotic dancing to be sure, complete with ripped torsos, sequins and feathers, but it's on at Sadlers Wells, not Madame Jojos! Cirque Beserk, as the tagline goes, is great for kids, and even better for grown ups. I went last night with my husband. After our clowning on ice episode before Christmas (click here), he has been laid up with a broken leg, but, while still on crutches, the cast came off last week and this was our first date night of the new year. It was rather romantic, my funny valentine to him, and great to see that Cirque Beserk rolled the red carpet out in our honour. OK, so it wasn't for us, it happened to be opening night and if I saw less circus and watched more television, I could tell you who's who. But there were plenty of paparazzi and VIPs enjoying having their photo taken with the buff, young performers, and I was enjoying the spectacle before the show had even begun!
Sitting up in the dress circle, we had a wonderful view of the stage. Social media and photography are actively encouraged and we have some great footage to share, though nothing beats seeing the show live. With 35 performers and 30 circus skills on offer, listing them all risks sounding like a shopping list, but my goodness, we were totally swept away by the thrills and skills on offer. I loved the buccaneer vibe of the Timbuktu Tumblers from Kenya, their joy and humour shining through their acrobatics and flaming limbo. The latina in me loved the "bolas argentinas", the weights on the ends of the chords traditionally used by Argentine cowboys, the rhythm of the beat they crack on the floor reminding me of a flamenco dancer conjuring up the duende. And I was in awe again (after seeing them in Zippos) watching the spectacular Tropicana Troupe from Cuba, flying off a teeterboard through the air with staggering dexterity and aplomb.
As I'm learning a few juggling tricks at the moment, hard enough with my hands, watching the French foot-juggler was completely mind boggling and a study in control and speed. As for the knife throwing, well the blazing knives contouring the body on a rotating wheel was something else - the fact that it was a Czech husband and wife act made me laugh (once it was safely over), for it takes trust and the concept of marital harmony to a whole new level! There were stunning hand-balance sequences, both on canes and stacks of chairs, an English aerialist in straps eliciting gasps at her spins and drops, and a Finnish duo combining extraordinary shapes and equilibrium in their handstand duet. I had been very much looking forward to the Mongolian archery act, which lived up to its exotic promise, delighting as the contortionist gracefully extricated herself from a glass jar to take aim with her feet - it was bang on target. All this was framed by dancers and aerial ballet transitioning the main acts with grace and finesse, set to lively music with a Romany air. And what would a circus be without its clown holding it all together, despite ladders and bicycles collapsing left, right and centre.?! It was Tweedy, last seen at Giffords Circus (click here). I adore Tweedy because he has gentle comedy genius. Adults and children alike, he has us laughing with his unique blend of slapstick whether on unicycle, rolla bolla or slackline, and a variety of brilliant tricks up his sleeve, in his hat and down his trousers...
The finale was staggering, and a serious treat for my husband who loves his bikes. A motorcyclist in a globe of terror is a sight to behold. I have seen a little on Instagram via the feed of a virtual friend from Colombia, so I knew something of the form, but with a film uploaded, you know already they have survived. Watching The Lucius Team live is a different viewing experience. By the end of the first act there were two bikers in the globe, enough of a heart-attack, but for the grand finale there were four, and a girl in the centre - that's just insane!
Risk, I thought, the wonder of this show comes down to risk. Ever single element of this production contains significant risk, but it is lightly worn due to the hard work, experience and commitment clear in their preparation. This is a show that is slick, glossy, proud, but never smug. And living in multi-cultural London, I loved seeing circus folk hailing from travelling circuses all over the world, come together for one show. It's a microcosm for the way the world should work, a harmonious, exciting, vibrant exchange, full of love and welcoming all. Thank you Zippos and Cirque Beserk. Wonder-full. Bravo! Encore!