by Ronnie Haydon
28 November 2012
Wild autumn winds may be buffeting the surrounding Wonderland, but inside the Zippos tent all is warm and twinkly for a seasonal circus especially for the under eights.
With the lighting set to a fuchsia glow and the little circus ring bathed in dry ice and fairylights, children dwarfed by vast snowballs of candyfloss are treated to a little Big Top experience hosted by a red-jacketed ringmaster and a brace of elves.
The acts they introduce are sprightly enough. Chenoa hangs by her toes from the swinging trapeze and the elegant, butterfly winged Duo Steffanelli perform a graceful aerial silk show, creating footholds in their fabric trapeze to whirl giddily in a mid-air pas de deux. Also impressive is Anya and her multi-hoola-hoop routine, which at one point makes her look like a giant slinky. Such adventures in skill, grace and sheer bendiness, with musical accompaniment and whoops of encouragement from the rest of the circus troupe, makes for saucer eyes all round. Weak links between the acts let the show down.
Paul Winston as the ringmaster seems more middle manager than maestro. He’s an embarrassed straight man in an ineffectual, if not downright unhygienic, slapstick routine that involves spitting mouthfuls of water at hapless volunteers from the audience. Children, confused by the change in focus, may miss a spot of proper clowning. Whatever happened to custard pies? At least they would be a more expansive expression of elfish insurrection than an inconsequential skit resulting in a faceful of spittle.