Circus shows in London
As you roll into Bernie Dieter’s ‘Little Death Club’, the first sign of how your night will unfold is a literal sign: ‘Warning – real fire will be used in this performance’. Bring it. A four-piece band plays funk-rock with a distinctly pornographic twist while Dieter and her small carnival of miscreants lounge on the stage and in the stalls, vamping it up for the crowd. It’s a Weimar Republic throwback that will feel deliciously familiar to fans of Bob Fosse’s ‘Cabaret’. But unlike ‘Cabaret’, our bob-sporting brunette with powerful pipes is on top, emceeing and in complete control of the crowd and herself. ‘Little Death Club’ unfolds beat-for-beat like a traditional cabaret with singing, some circus arts, drag and smatterings of comedy and nudity. But Dieter’s original score (a little '80s, a little Bertolt Brecht), potent signing voice and playful stage presence keep the format feeling fresh. There’s no narrative arc here, just a perfectly paced variety show, gently themed around letting your freak flag fly. Aerialists Fancy Chance and Beau Sargent are standouts. Chance, dressed in billowing voile robes, suspends herself above the stage by her hair, fluttering above the crowd like a psychedellic butterfly. While Sargent folds himself into pretzel shapes so grotesque yet gorgeous, you can hear the crowd wince as they cheer. There are spots of audience participation (and humiliation), particularly by Dieter and acid-tart drag queen Myra Dubois. Their crosshairs are focuse
High-flying acrobatic troupe Flip Fabrique are back in London this summer. Originating in Quebec, which has a spectacular record for churning out contemporary circus troupes, they're known for high-octane aerial work. They'll soar through the air at Underbelly Festival in 'Transit', their follow-up to last year's 'Attrape Moi'.
Cast your mind back the best part of a decade, and you may distantly recall James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’, aka the most successful film of all time. All manner of sequels have been promised, but none have actually emerged yet. But here comes a circus spin-off: Cirque du Soleil’s arena-touring latest is set on ‘Avatar’s alien world of Pandora, and follows two Omatikaya boys who go on a quest to rescue the Tree of Souls. That means nothing to us, and we’ve seen ‘Avatar’, but basically it should look spectacular, and hopefully have a slightly more stirring plot than the clowning-based shows they take to the Royal Albert Hall atthe top of the year.
The ravens will have left the Tower before Cirque du Soleil gives up on its annual start-of-year stands at the Royal Albert Hall: the only element of mystery is which of its numerous touring extravaganzas will be tasked with filling the slot in any given year (some wags might argue that there’s not that much difference). For 2020, it’ll be the European premiere of ‘Luzia’, which is described as ‘a waking dream of Mexico’ and is inspired by the sights, sounds and traditions of the North American country.
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