LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS... welcome to the big top blog of Douglas McPherson, author of CIRCUS MANIA, the book described by Gerry Cottle as "A passionate and up-to-date look at the circus and its people."

Monday, 19 July 2010

Great Yarmouth Hippodrome review

Review of FEARLESS!

Britain's oldest circus building,
where the ring becomes a pool!
Now in its 31st year under the helmsmanship of Peter Jay, a trip to the Hippodrome just gets better. The new summer show, Fearless, may well be the best I’ve seen there since my first visit, in the circus venue’s 100th anniversary year, back in 2003.

Among the highlights is a Wheel of Death that finds Columbia’s Duo Vanegas skipping a rope, walking blindfold and turning a death-defying somersault atop their huge, revolving contraption. Fearless, indeed!

But it’s not just the stunts that make this a great show. There’s a huge sense of enthusiasm coming off all the performers that communicates directly with the audience to make this one of the must-see circus shows of the year.

The Hippodrome as it was...
Nowhere is the show’s energy and vibrancy more apparent than in a new cloud-swing routine by Robert Foxhall, set to Queen’s high energy disco classic Don’t Stop Me Now (Cos I’m Having A Good Time). Foxhall’s gleeful showing off above the fountains and swimming pool of the Hippodrome’s near-unique Water Spectacular gels so perfectly with the exuberance of the music that the routine is not just impressive but lifts the soul.

Another great moment comes with Vladimir Georgievsky’s frantic, cartoon-paced comedy trampoline. It’s the best such routine I’ve seen for a long time. Again, it’s not just the technique, but the charisma Vlad brings to the routine. Plus, of course, the way director Peter Jay has dressed the act up with dancing girls and music - in this case Frank Sinatra’s Ain’t That A Kick In The Head?

...and as it is today.
Jay’s window dressing also adds hugely to a hand-to-hand balancing act by Poland’s Duo Vector, who here perform on an island in the middle of the swimming pool. Now, where else short of Las Vegas would you see that?

Backstage at the Hippodrome
After the show... there’s another treat. In traditional circuses you pay a quid to visit the animals in the ‘zoo’ at the back of the tent. At the Hippodrome, the old stables are now home to a fantastic museum of circus artefacts that Peter Jay has been collecting for the past three decades.
A clown car... gorilla suit... chimp’s bicycle... enamel signs... posters... unicycles... pianos... props... scenery... it’s a veritable Aladdin’s cave that’s all the more interesting for the explosion in a jumble sale look with which it’s all piled up in the Hippodrome’s labyrinth of atmospheric backstage corridors. With a unique piece of circus history at every turn, the collection will delight circus lovers almost as much as the show itself.

In the foyer, meanwhile, it was good to see my book Circus Mania! displayed front and centre on the merchandise table for just £10 - pre-signed by Yours Truly. That’s £5 less than in the shops - another reason to get along to the Hippodrome this summer!

"Roll up, roll up
for a glimpse
behind the
grease paint."
- Eastern
Daily Press
There’s loads about the Hippodrome in Circus Mania! plus behind-the-scenes visits to the Chinese State Circus, the Circus of Horrors, Circus Mondao, the Great British Circus and many more. The Mail on Sunday called the book "A brilliant account of a vanishing art form."

Buy Circus Mania for £10 post-free from Peter Owen Publishers. Call 020 8350 1775 or send a cheque or postal order to:

Peter Owen Publishers
81 Ridge Road
London N8 9NP

Or click here to buy Circus Mania from Amazon

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