11 posts categorized "Circus & cabaret" Feed

Review: Circus 1903, Royal Festival Hall - joyous, thrilling and fun

Circus 1903 is a joyous show it brings wonder, thrills and humour back to the circus.

Circus 1903, Royal Festival Hall. Photo Manuel Harlan

Circus 1903 is a journey back in time to the huge travelling shows of early 20th century America which unearths new levels of thrills and entertainment.

Who would have thought that good old-fashioned knife throwing acts, balancing, acrobatics and contortionists could be quite as breathtaking to watch?

Ringmaster Willie Whipsnade is the guiding force, he introduces the acts with a classic flourish, filling interludes with magic, humour and audience interaction which mostly involves children who have volunteered to go up on stage and help.

These segments are important moments of bubbling frivolity and laughter, a touch of lightness before the next thrills begin.

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Interview: Circa's hula hoop artist Jessica Connell talks making Peepshow and common misconceptions about acrobatics

Jessica Connell is a hula hoop artist performing in Circa's Peepshow at the Underbelly. She talks about creating the show, training schedules and popular misconceptions about acrobatics.

Jessica Connell performs in Circa's Peepshow

What was the inspiration behind Circa’s Peepshow?

The inspiration behind the show is about seeing and being seen. We were inspired by the idea of how people see one another. The action we take, how we dress, what we say all influence how we are seen by others. 

Why should people come and see it?

Peepshow is a raw, risky, honest show that I am still excited to have helped create and be performing. We are seven acrobats on stage. We work together as an ensemble and we all have something to share with the audience. There is humour, great skills, great music including an original composition and we have worked hard to explore new acts and styles to express our art-form.
The lighting is also exciting. There are moments in the show where I am performing acrobatics in different styles of lighting I have never performed acrobatics or hula hoops in before. It creates great challenges and opportunities for us in our show.

How do you put a show together?

The Ensemble with our Director Yaron Lifschitz and associate director Libby McDonald work to explore concepts and themes. Sometimes our director comes in with a track or an idea and we explore that idea physically.

There is a lot of experimentation and a show can change a lot from day one. Some ideas change beyond recognition, others grow and some don’t make it in the show at all.

It is also a very free environment to work in. We have lots of discussions and are free to bring ideas into the room.  

What is the hardest bit?

Everyone will find different aspects of the show hard depending on their role. I perform hula hoops with the ensemble; they lift me, twist me and throw hoops to me.

Performing my skills like this is new and an exciting and challenging act we have created for Peepshow. 

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Underbelly review: Sassy, cheeky and playful Circa's Peepshow - sweet dreams are made of this

You leave feeling like you've experienced something like a strange but comforting dream; sweet, sassy and definitely sparkling with spectacle.

Underbelly Circa Peep Show Production the other richard
Circa's Peepshow, photo by The Other Richard

A combination of dance tumbles and seemingly impossible acrobatics Circa's Peepshow has more about it than just human daring, physical ability and skill.

Moments akin to an interpretative movement piece suggest - at different times - metamorphosis, mechanical breakdown or something from natural the world.

Sometimes an individual, sometimes performed collectively like one organic mass, interweaving the dance-like movements with small but impressive physical feats that might build to something quite spectacular that has the audience astonished.

Sassy and sexy

Throughout the show is injected with a sassiness, a sexiness but also something that is cheeky, playful and innocent.

The pace varies. There are beautiful gliding movements forming static shapes that feel at home in the natural world but incongruous with the human body that is creating them.

Faster piece exudes muscular energy often coupled with an almost bolshy rough and tumble, bodies hitting the stage with such crashes as to draw sharp intakes of breath from those watching.

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Review: Dazzling, nerve-jangling and toe-tapping Circolombia, Underbelly

A street-edged show of dazzling and nerve-jangling acrobatics which captures a joyful, c'est la vie camaraderie while entertaining with the most jaw-dropping feats.

CircolombiaThe Circolombia troupe of 13 singers and acrobats chorus: 'A deep breath as I walk, as I fly and as I fall' and it is an appropriate summation of the essence and tone of their performances. 

Direct from Colombia, this street-edged show of dazzling and nerve-jangling acrobatics captures a joyful, c'est la vie camaraderie while entertaining with the most jaw-dropping feats.

Acrobatic dance

Live rap and backing beats with a Colombian-flavour interlace acrobatic dance sequences and add pace to the tumbles and a rhythm of anticipation to faster segments.

The ensemble gathers for banquine, creating a human base from which to hurl each other through the air with controlled precariousness, landing with a perfect wobble on an adjacent base of human arms.

Later a teeterboard (seesaw to you and I) will propel Juan David Campo Teran higher and higher as if he is bouncing on a trampoline, building to a death-defying dismount complete with an applause-inducing array of twists and somersaults.

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Review: Hot, wet, bathtub acrobatics are good clean fun in SOAP, Underbelly Festival

It's a sexy show but good clean fun with a big dose of playfulness to much of what is performed

Try writing a review of comedy/acrobatic/opera show SOAP at Underbelly without using double entendres.

SOAP_WET_©_Dmitry_Shakhin-24_400x300I mean there are bathtubs, water, men in pants and pink balls for goodness sake.

Themed around bath-time, when the cast of acrobats, jugglers and red-welly wearing 'clown' (Marie-Andrée Lemaire) aren't frolicking, sliding in, hiding in and generally performing amazing feats in and around the roll-top tubs, they are squirting water, making watery music - or performing under a shower.


Don't worry, those in the front row get some protection (from the splashes).

It's a sexy show but good clean fun with a big dose of playfulness to much of what is performed. 


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Review: Ups and downs of La Soiree, Aldwych Theatre

The beautiful Aldwych Theatre is hosting a winter season of La Soirée giving the cabaret/circus show a Moulin Rouge-style setting including on stage cafe-style chairs and tables. But where Moulin Rouge is suggestive and saucy, La Soirée sometimes leaves nothing to the imagination and occasionally pushes the boundaries of good taste - you have been warned.

There is plenty to enjoy and entertain including some vertigo-inducing acrobatics (but don't sit too far back in the stalls or you'll miss some of it). It is the feats of dexterity, strength and balance - and some of the puppetry - which make this a mesmerising and exciting show to watch. Some of it you may have seen before but there is plenty of stuff you won't have, for example former gymnasts Leon and Klondi defy gravity with jaw-dropping balances at seemingly impossible angles and Michelle Clark's hula hoop act was especially clever and spell-binding to watch.

It was also the first time I'd seen Mallakhamb which was performed on a thick pole (a bit of post show googling revealed it's an ancient Indian gymnastics-type sport).  The two performers climb up and down the pole sometimes using only their legs to hold themselves in seemingly impossible positions or to catch themselves as they drop. They sometimes synchronise there movements, balances and holds or combine into even more complex feats. It was electrifying to watch and drew gasps from the audience.

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Review: Precision and poise in Compagnie XY's #ItsNotYetMidnight, Roundhouse

Compagnie XY's It's Not Yet Midnight... (courtesy of David Levene) 5
Compagnie XY's It's Not Yet Midnight...Photo courtesy of David Levene

There is a group of 20 or so people on stage. The men are dressed in shirts and trousers, some with braces or waistcoats. Women similarly in shirts some with school girl style skirts or trousers. A push and shove breaks out building into full blown brawl.

All you can hear is the sound of their exerted breath and the slap of limbs or bodies hitting the stage. It looks quite vicious, frenetic but for the acrobatic flourishes which add incongruous moments of something more balletic.

It is dizzying to watch and a mere teaser for what is to come from French acrobatic troupe Compagnie XY's new show It's Not Yet Midnight. From here you are taken on a breathtaking journey of strength, poise, precision and co-ordination.

There are startling set pieces - double human height huddles that rotate, slowly collapse and then 'grow' again and then scenes where there are a multitude of feats being enacted on stage at the same time. Some of them are small no doubt looking much easier to do than they actually are - two people 'dancing' on the shoulders of one person, which you really have to see to fully appreciate, for example.

The pace quickens and slows, quickens and slows like heart beat, sometimes there is music, sometimes not, sometimes there are dance sequences or moments of comedy but all the time the stage oozes atmosphere.

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#RADAfest Review: Night Kitchen Cabaret's Family Tree, RADA

Festival_2015_family_treeRuby (Roses Urquhart) runs a cabaret from her kitchen in the East End. The night of the cabaret is fast approaching and Ruby's has lost two of her acts but can she pull a show out of the bag in time for the arrival of her cousin (once removed) who lives on another planet?

She's not on her own, she has her adopted family and friends around her all of whom have their own problems to solve. In the corner of the kitchen, Mabel (Jo Bowis) is trying to find the missing ingredient to distil a hangover-free gin which Sapphire (Clare Barrett), the temperamental French chef, might be able to help with but she needs to face the past. Then there is the Boy Bun (Jordon Stevens), a waif Ruby has taken in, but he likes to sleep in the dog basket and has to face his nightmarish fears. But, there are always the dead relatives to call upon.

It is a circus of characters with Ruby as a sort of ringmaster or conductor keeping everything in some sort of order. It's a story that is part (Grimm) fairytale, part musical and part variety show. There is puppetry, hoola hoops, juggling, acrobatics, dancing, magic and comedy weaved through the story - or is the story weaved through the variety acts? It is amusing, entertaining and often laugh out loud funny.

The set is impressive and imaginatively manipulated for what are a series of loosely connected set pieces. It is performed with skill and panache and I particularly enjoyed Jordon Steven's Boy Bun who has a twitchy energy and streetwise innocence.

Family Tree is a fun show, polished and brilliantly executed and there are two performances left as part of the RADA Festival which finishes this weekend. It is 70 minutes long and I'll be looking out for what Roses Urquhart's Night Kitchen Cabaret do next. It's getting a fun five stars from me.


Review: The Briefs boys with their feathers, thongs and stilettos are back, London Wonderground

Briefs, London Wonderground. Photo John Marshall

Australian burlesque, acrobatic drag troupe Briefs exploded in a cloud of feathers and sequined thongs into my life last year. I had so much fun the first time I saw them I grabbed another friend and went to see them a second time.

This year they are back on the South Bank in the intimate Spielgeltent at London Wonderground for a longer run bringing their own brand of Aussie humour and adult entertainment.

There is breathtaking acrobatics, burlesque, magic tricks, drag skits, yo-yo skills and speed Rubik's cube solving - all performed in a suitable degree of undress and with a good smattering of ridiculously high heels. These boys certainly aren't shy in displaying their talents and afterwards if you hear the Minions cry of 'banana' it will make you think of something very different to the yellow cartoon rascals.

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Fringe review: Romance with Bromance at #Udderbellyfest

Image004Have fallen a little bit in love with the Bromance boys. Just putting that out there to start with. Theirs is the third fabulous act I've seen on the South Bank in this season's festival of acrobatics, cabaret and comedy. And I've loved the previous two shows but the Bromance boys, well they stole my heart...and it's nothing to do with them performing in their pants at the end.

There is a narrative running through their carefully crafted show about friendship: trust, loyalty and personal space - we are close but not that close - which plays out in several ways. There is amazing acrobatics and balancing some of it done with almost balletic grace it is beautiful as well as breathtaking and nerve-jangling to watch.

They blend in contemporary dance sequences and skits to vary the pace. Sometimes it is serious, sometimes they jostle and tease, try and catch each other out. Loyalty switches between the three and they gang up on each other but in a tongue in cheek way.

And then there is the hoop. Not a hula hoop, this is much bigger, big enough for one of them to wedge themselves inside and roll around the stage, performing a dizzying array of acrobatic feats that look at once simple and impossible. Again it is performed with a dance-like grace that is almost hypnotic. 

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