Preview: run away to circus ethiopia

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Indy Lifestyle Online
If the word Ethiopia conjures up only images of heat and famine in your mind, the Queen Elizabeth Hall is the place to be this week to get a glimpse of the bigger picture. Circus Ethiopia's youthful troupe - all aged between eight and 18 - follow their acclaimed run at Brighton Festival with a couple of dates in the capital. Despite being billed as "The Flying Children of Addis Ababa", there are no trapezes, or any real equipment at all - just a few juggling batons and balls. But their energy and infectious sense of fun promises perfect half-term fayre for adults and children alike.

The Circus was founded in 1991 by a French Canadian who wanted to teach Ethiopian street children to perform tricks so that they could earn money. It has grown from the original small band to a membership of 1,000 with its own schools and satellite troupes, playing on home ground to audiences of 3 to 5,000 for free. Unusually for a circus act, music and dance take centre stage, and parents of a nervous disposition would do well to avoid the aisle seats, as audience participation is also a feature of several parts of the show. Education is another aspect of the performance (which is supported by Oxfam), as, in Brighton at least, a condom was planted on one of the fathers who was dragged onto the stage as part of an Aids awareness routine. Confused local children took it for a balloon as the mischievous pre-teen performer responsible grinned.

Debbie Gordon

QEH, South Bank, SE1 (0171-921 0600) Thur 28 May & Sun 31 May, 11.30am pounds 7/pounds 5 concs, family ticket pounds 18

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