In all my twenty-one years I have never experienced live circus performance.
I don’t mean clowns and performing lions and the like- I mean traditional circus.
My boyfriend studied at Circomedia in Bristol and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I decided to get some circus tickets to the Marie Celestial show for our anniversary to go see what all the fuss was about; and what better place than Bristol to go watch some circus?
This particular show was set outdoors in a “secret city centre location”- already this was very intriguing. I received an email a few days before informing me where it was…(I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say where it was…so I’ll just keep stumph).
Anyhow, first impressions were pretty positive. The set was basically a large metal steam-punk inspired spaceship, which I think you’ll agree is pretty cool. Fire protruded from the top, netting hung from the sides, and a slack line was attached from the spaceship to a pole. I was very intrigued as to how they would incorporate everything.
The performers were dressed as what I could only describe as steam-punk aliens- I assume that is a thing? This obviously worked well with the set. The basic narrative was that the aliens had landed on a new planet and were exploring it; I got the impression that this planet was Earth as they took a great interest in the audience. This was conveyed using occasional verbal communication, but mainly via physicality and facial expressions; which all performers were exceedingly good at.
What impressed me a lot was their use of the nets hanging from the side of the ship; these were used to hang upside down on, clamber inside, do the splits and literally forward-roll in; it was mesmerising to watch. As a first-time circus-goer perhaps this type of choreography isn’t unusual, but either way, I was taken aback by their skill, precision and endurance.
Not only this, but the use of the slack line was absolutely incredible; my boyfriend told me that it can be a very difficult skill to master, which made me respect the particular woman who did it even more. She didn’t only walk across it; she laid down, did the splits and carried several lanterns with complete ease. Never once did I feel that she would stumble.
There were also a few comic moments which helped pull the story along; such as finding underwear hung up on a line and putting it on their heads and turning their noses up at strange human food. Overall, this made the show very accessible to people of all ages.
The only criticism I would have is that it wasn’t long enough! We were informed that it would be a 40-minute show; which is fair enough for an outdoor, standing production. Yet, it only lasted 25 minutes. I wanted to see some floor work perhaps, as it seemed that the performance was very much contained on the ship. It would have been interesting if there was a little audience participation; especially as the main thrust of the narrative was them discovering Earth.
Other than that, this was a very positive first experience of traditional circus, and I would very much like to see some more.
If anyone could recommend any great local (or far away) circus shows, then don’t hesitate to comment below or tweet me @tesshenderson94