You should see some of the things they get up to at the Barbican. Walking along the backs of the seats from row to row, standing upside down on the back of their necks, high-kicking in perfect time to the music, running fast with light abandon up a flight of stairs - and that's just the kids in the interval. This show really evokes enthusiasm.
On stage we can watch an amazing display of skills. There is the woman, an absolute delight, who opens the second half with a devastating number on a trapeze, sometimes swinging so high that she almost vanishes into the flies. The daring with which she changes position on the bar or its supporting ropes, often with breath-taking apparent slips or risks, has to be seen to be believed, but she smilingly accompanies it with a charming, witty commentary on her pretend love life.
There is a guy who stands on another chap's shoulders, and then catches on his own shoulders a young woman, who hurtles, somersaulting, high in the air from the end of a seesaw. There's a couple who dance inside two hoops, she mostly hung in the air, he on the ground, and within those confines they achieve such unexpected manoeuvres that I simply cannot attempt to describe them.
Quite a few of the cast indulge in startling contortions; perhaps the most spectacular sequence is when three women, first one by one, then simultaneously, balance in varied patterns above the heads of three men. Or do you prefer it when two of the women compete, one balancing on a rod held shoulder high, the other above a group of men, and take turns leaping high in twisted shapes, before landing safely back on their precarious perches?
I haven't mentioned the brilliant mass juggling, the climbing up and down poles or ropes, the woman who balances atop a high stack of chairs, or she who lies horizontal in the air, seemingly unsupported. And what about the endless singing and instrumental music and a couple of lugubrious, talkative clowns (although I must confess to liking them less than the rest, except when one bashed the other's face with the back of a guitar)?
All these tricks are presented with a great deal of style, even at times a touch of romance, but I couldn't see any dramatic content or character other than the individuality of the performers themselves, who all came over as pleasant, assured and eager to please. They are handsomely dressed, mostly in white or in black and white - none of the usual circus spangles.
Forget the programme book, with its messages from two prime ministers (of Canada and of Quebec), plus three other government ministers or dignitaries. Ignore also the pages of pretentious twaddle by the company's directors. They think they are telling stories or reciting poetry. Not so; the one unarguably true programme note is also the shortest: "This is only a circus show." That's the way to enjoy it.
To 23 August (0845 120 7518)Reuse content