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."

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Timber! - the lumberjack circus is a show to fall for!

Cirque Alfonse
- Circus hillbilly style!

A circus needs something new and different to pull a crowd. Even if the newness is just the refreshingly different way an old trick is dressed up, a show has to give us something we haven’t seen before, and can’t see anywhere else, or else why should we buy a ticket?

Zippos is currently cleaning up in Scotland with Nicky de Neumann’s Roman horse riding. Now that’s something Andrew Ducrow was doing in Victorian times - and the Romans were doing 2000 years ago! But, hey, you’re not going to see it anywhere else in the UK today, so the prospect of seeing Nicky recreating such a powerful piece of old circus in a modern big top is something to get excited about.

Cirque du Soleil revolutionised circus in the 80s with a style of presentation we hadn’t seen before. But too many ‘new circus’ companies that have tried to grab a bit of Soleil’s sunshine have lost sight of the novelty factor that circus needs. In search of art, they’re often dowdy and straight-faced to the point where even their posters look dull.

- fun in the barn!
Timber! by Canada's Cirque Alfonse, however, has got the novelty element spot on. The very concept of a lumberjack circus makes you sit up and think, wow, that will be different - and it is!

Imagine all your favourite circus tricks transplanted to a barn, with hillbilly music and bearded performers in braces and long-johns (or, to save your imagination, just Google their promo video on YouTube). Here we have Russian bar on freshly sawn planks, juggling with axes, hoop jumping through steel barrel hoops, whip-cracking (naturally) and even some running on rolling logs.

It all adds up to a barrel-load of homespun fun and the critics have been loving it, even if some hacks couldn’t resist pointing out that at 90 minutes in length the show could so with some, well... chopping.

Timber! is at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on London’s South Bank until July 31, before heading to Europe on tour. Go down and give them a big yee-hah!

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