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
Everyone's favourite naughty cabaret circus is back at a new location in the centre of Leicester Square. It's a mainstream setting for the leftfield spiegeltent, but 'La Soirée' has been going for almost ten years now, to much acclaim. I wince every time the British Gents dead lift one another for fear that something might snap, but once they get down to their famous Union Jack undies it's clear they've still got it after all these years; no half-mast here. The next two hours is a whirlwind of gross-out gags involving hankies, bananas and balls. It's not all puerile: watching Denis Lock blow bubbles is still remarkably clever, captivating and surprisingly moving (just don’t borrow that aforementioned hanky to dry your eyes). And 'La Soiree can do politics, too. Faux-Spaniard Ursula Martinez and her plucky guitar routine may just be the antidote to post-Brexit gloom. The old favourites are still the ones who bring the house down (if you haven't seen Captain Frodo put his whole bendy body through a tennis racket before, frankly, you haven't lived), but new and botoxed couple Daredevil Chickens are the best thing to come out of Vegas since Britney 2.0 with their very physical style of eye-watering vaudeville. And there's a talented sexy hula hooper on the block, Satya Bella, who's gonna make you wish you'd practiced harder in the playground. While it’s still a riot of a night out, this ballsy bigtop has also become the setting for a fair few corporate ouBook now Read more
'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
In the program notes to this returning, revamped collaboration between NoFit State circus and Italian director Firenza Guidi, there’s lot of deep and meaningful talk about ‘a journey through time’ and ‘the story of the fragility of our lost selves’. That’s all guff really, because ‘Bianco’ is an out-and-out, oohs-and-aahs circus show that pushes all the right spectacular buttons, with no cheesy themes or narrative needed. The show itself is refreshingly stripped-back, with little of the pomp and bombast – clowns, ringleaders, cheap slapstick comedy – that you might normally expect from a family-friendly circus show. ‘Bianco’ shuns narrative and, apart from a small intro advising ‘Here be Dragons’ and ‘no photography please’, there is no spoken content. Instead, the performances speak for themselves in a succession of increasingly impressive, classic circus tricks, from juggling and tightrope-walking to breathtaking acrobatics and trapeze stunts. Soundtracked by an excellent live band, ‘Bianco’ opens in a fit of orchestrated chaos: stray juggling pins here, a wobbly tightrope walker there. But that rawness is endearing; it makes watching people do really difficult, knackering tricks all the more impressive. The second half delivers a more crafted drama, culminating in a superb duo rope performance using only body weight and gravity, the finale crowned by a snowstorm, a nod to Bianco’s festive context. The energy of the endearingly shambolic opening, however, is what BiaBook now Read more