You’ll Want To Run Away With The Circus
There is a reason that the circus has thrived for centuries. Showing off a series of unbelievable feats of strength, balance and coordination, performers have managed to wow audiences through the ages as they are transported into a world of mystery and spectacle quite unlike any other entertainment form. Circus 1903 transforms the Regent Theatre back to the golden era of this art form allowing the incredible talents of their internationally-renowned performers to shine in a captivating performance perfect for all ages.
The circus of 1903 was a drastically different incarnation to what we see today. Without the smoke machines and choreographed lighting of today’s entertainment industry, this entertainment form relied on the talented individuals taking centre stage to impress audiences. And that is exactly what is delivered in the celebration of this iconic circus period in Circus 1903.
Drawing together some of the best and brightest circus talents in the world, this limited season production has the audience holding on to their breath for most of the two and a half hours as increasingly death-defying stunts are performed. And while the lighting and set design of this production certainly add to the spectacle, it is the magic of the individual performances which makes this production stand out.
It is difficult to choose a few highlight acts as each performer stands out in his or her own way with their unique version of death defying.
One of the most hair-raising stunts comes from The Perilous Perigos simply due to the lack of safety net. An expert knife thrower, it is impossible not to hold your breath as he hurls razor sharp blades around his brave assistant – especially when he brings out the flaming knives and hooks his assistant onto a spinning board. Equally as terrifying is the Lopez Family who take to the high-wire in the finale act. Simply walking across the rope is not difficult enough for this light-footed family. Through a series of increasingly more difficult routines, they find themselves riding across the wire on bikes while Mariaiose performs upside down above them in amazing feats of balance.
Speaking of balance, The Sensational Sozonov brings his balancing act all the way from Russia teetering atop precarious canes well above the audience, while the Flying Fins take off into the air with split second timing in their untethered catapult routine.
As is a risk with all live performance, mistakes occaisionally happen. Last night was no exception and with the incredible feats the artists were performing it was a surprise that there was only one point at which the Fratelli Rossi came unhinged during their foot juggling. Recovering quickly from a fall, the pair managed to regain their momentum and have the audience in awe with their sensational summersault finale – and despite the one mistake, it only reminded the audience of the incredible talent each of these performers possess to pull off these routines.
But it wasn’t all terrifying. Lucky Moon took to the stage with her aerial flight routine proving that circus doesn’t just have to be death defying, it can also be stunningly beautiful.
These are only a small handful of the performers who graced the stage last night with each one providing their own captivating performance from the aerial ballet of Les Incredibles to the juggling prowess of The Great Gaston.
Customary to the circus during this golden age was the unfortunate inclusion of animals. As a society, we have long since made the decision that animals have no place in the circus leading to the increased popularity of non-animal cruelty circuses. Yet, in paying homage to this great era of circus the role of animals cannot be forgotten and has been honoured through the creation of two beautiful – and impressively realistic – elephants, Queenie and Peanut. With members of the elephant design and production team all having worked with the company behind the smash West End hit War Horse, these elephants, led by their puppeteers, take on a life of their own as the most majestic beasts the Regent Theatre has seen (since King Kong).
There is one other notable performance that must be acknowledged. A circus doesn’t get anywhere without a ring master full of charm, intrigued and the ability to hypnotize an audience, and this circus’ ring master was no exception. David Williamson plays Ring Master Willy Whipsnade who navigates the audience through this incredible night. But is also able to play his own slight of hand distracting 1,500 people with a hilarious routine involving some of the younger audience members as the stage is transformed from one scene to another. I’m not revealing any of this comedic interlude because it really needs to be seen to be believed!
Circus 1903 is an incredible homage to the golden era of circus and perfect family entertainment for the school holidays (but with enough terrifying stunts to keep even those young at heart enthralled). This production is only in Melbourne for a limited run until January 14 before leaving for the US. For more information and to book tickets, visit www.circus1903.com