Although you'll not see any lions being 'tamed' in massive stripy tents, London's modern circus scene is far more jaw-dropping than the suspicious magicians and caged animals of old. Have your breath taken away with your pick from our list of London circus shows.
Circus shows in London
'Amaluna' will return to London in January 2017. This review is from the 2016 run. Pity the performers in Cirque du Soleil. When they’re not doing jaw-droppingly impressive things on stage, the minutiae of ordinary life – like popping to the shops for milk, say – must be incredibly boring.Because, make no mistake, this show from the Canada-originating, world-conquering circus troupe is a spectacular piece of escapism. After premiering in Montreal in 2012, it’s at the Royal Albert Hall to mark the company’s twentieth anniversary at the venue.Loosely based on Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’, with shades of Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’, the show follows the trials of Miranda – daughter of the sorceress Prospero – and the shipwrecked Romeo, as they fall in love on the island of Amaluna. The multi-level set, with its massive, peacock feather-like fronds, has epic scale.At this point, there’s an expected level of slick professionalism in Cirque du Soleil’s work – and, leaving aside the slightly cheesy rock opera stylings, ‘Amaluna’ feels like a Hollywood blockbuster, with a budget to match. And yet this doesn’t take away from the thrill, thanks to its well-chosen acts and deft tonal changes.The supernatural is apt when the skill and physical prowess of the performers seems magical. But it’s not just about stunning, large-scale acrobatics performed by people dressed as animals. The proper hook to ‘Amaluna’ is its confidence in occasionally silencing the roaring guitars of the band – inRead more
This review is from 'La Soiree's 2015 run; the line up will be different for 2016 ‘Leave your troubles at the door!’ Brett Haylock, master of ceremonies and godfather of the ‘La Soirée’ family says as the gilded gates of the Spiegeltent close. ‘It’s Sunday at the end of what must have been big weekend for all of you’. He pauses, with a devilish grin. ‘So why stop now. The bar is over there’.Haylock and his carousel of weird and wonderful circus and cabaret performers know how to party. They’ve been throwing the best shindigs since 2004 when ‘La Clique’ (‘La Soirée’s older sister) burst onto the Edinburgh fringe and inspired a thousand hearts to run off with the circus (myself included, I was going to get Ursula Martinez to teach me that trick she does with a silk hanky).Now with a hundred imitators clamouring at their mirrored doors, they are still the mistresses of sexy, subversive circus. Haylock keeps his line ups fresh by importing new talent alongside crowd favourites like the fabulous Mario Queen of the Circus and the bonkers and bendy Captain Frodo. And while there’s undoubtedly a bit of padding to be had in the two hour show, there are some crackers from the newcomers too.Mooky Cornish has the unenviable job of being resident clown in a programme where jugglers and contortionists raise more laughs than most stand ups. Cornish sensibly offers up something different. Her act – which involves a very badly performed ‘dramatic scene’ among other things – walks an impressiRead more
For its latest production, the Montreal-based Cirque Éloize has taken a distinctly urban turn. Jeannot Painchaud’s company have taken its usual theatrics and re-envisioned them for a kind of street dance-influenced, hip hop-inspired, cyberpunk city of the future. And yes, this means there are a fair few pairs of combat pants on the stage. And some multi-coloured dreadlocks too. But rather than being horrendously cringe, ‘iD’ is actually very, very good. As the curtain rises on Robert Massicotte’s set, the show kicks off with two strangers having a romantic encounter on a street, the choreographed slo-mo turning into a deft and skilful balancing routine. The obvious echoes of ‘West Side Story’ are further bolstered by the arrival of two rival gangs having a Jets and Sharks-style standoff. But thereafter, even the loosest of narratives is pushed aside in favour of out-and-out spectacle. Which is no problem at all – you’ll be far too swept up in the jaw-dropping stunts and acrobatics to care about any kind of story. There’s Jean-Philippe Deltell’s mindboggling juggling of six balls. There’s Thibaut Philippe’s daredevil trial bike display, which makes its way off the stage and into the aisles. And there’s a frankly stupendous ensemble routine involving a pair of trampowalls (exactly what you’d imagine them to be). But interestingly, the standout moments are the more intimate, like mesmerising contortionist Nicole Winter, perfectly matched by Jean-Phi Goncalves and Alex McMaRead more
The below review is from April 2013; 'Bianco' returns to London for Christmas 2016/17 with a new production. A woman lifted high into the air, her huge white skirt fanning out before her. A man soaring up to the rafters, bird-like, his arms outstretched. A woman rising and falling amid a shower of snow. These are some of the enchanting images conjured by ‘Bianco’, the latest show from the British contemporary circus company NoFit State. They’ve been peddling their brand of large-scale aerial adventure, marrying acrobatics with clowning, physical theatre and live music since 1986. And they’ve done that staying true to their original strolling-player principles, with the company living and travelling together as a community. This breeds a sense of togetherness that’s palpable throughout this lengthy, ambitious show. It’s a promenade performance, presented on and around sets of scaffolding that need continual rearranging: technicians and performers scurry among the audience, urging people to move out of the way, while busily fixing ropes and rivets. The performers are undoubtedly talented – every move is attacked with gusto, and the live band do sterling work. But the continual rearranging of the set is distracting for the audience, and it’s difficult to see quite what else the promenade setting adds – you could watch all the aerial stunts perfectly well from banks of seating, and some of the ground-level work is barely visible to those at the back of the crowd. There’s preRead more
Circus company Upswing stage this lovely-sounding show for children and families which tucks up audiences into beds around the stage. The piece uses 3D animation, music and circus to tell the tale of the little girl whose bedtime story is interrupted by her mum's work. Ages 5-plus.Read more