The Changing Face Of Circus

Cirque de Ciel Shanghi

Theatre Severn September 24,25, 26.

Are you one of the growing army of realists who have seen that, in fact it isn’t cool or kind to keep animals in cages so they can perform to fulfil our bidding in circuses all over Europe?  For too many years poor old lions, tigers, horses and elephants have been made to perform totally unnatural acts to show the skill, not of their learning ability, but of the trainer’s prowess. The whistle has well and truly blown for that kind of show and Cirque de Ciel, Shanghi, the new generation of Cirque du Soleil, has taken the sawdust ring to a whole new level.

Firstly, they have entirely blown away the idea of a circus in the traditional sense after all, the very name suggests a performance circle, now it appears Circus has dropped a dimension and can be seen all over the country on stages in theatres, but from one angle only, through the proscenium. Does it work? Where is the atmosphere - the lights, the smells, the family cast members all doing their bit to bring the traditional show to us? Where is the big top and where is the ringmaster? Services no longer required for this show.

What of this show? Cirque du Ciel has created a spectacular thing of unbelievable and mind boggling performances. The feats of strength and agility should not be possible for the human body. They treated the audience to breathtaking tumbling, feats of strength, balancing, juggling, martial arts and the famous Chinese Monkey Poles. And all dished up with such high energy. The level they had taken this show to regarding rehearsal and dedication was typically Chinese. They were so committed to their acts that the whole thing moved seamlessly from setting to setting. Powered by loud music and live drumming of an amazing percussionist, the show kept driving forward. Their percussionist just didn’t stop for the full two hours on the big Taiko drums. He was great, a real entertainer with a huge responsibility to the outcome of the whole show. His rhythms spoke out loud.

To be this good calls for incredible self discipline. That, as we know, is weaved into the very fabric of Chinese society and it produces results. Thirty athletes all doing the same moves is spectacular but wait until they then whittle down a bit and put the action on to unfeasibly high and testing locations and you are getting somewhere near what this excellent circus achieved.

This show is a massive hit and runs for two more nights at Theatre Severn. If you are excited at the thought of the daredevil feats that are performed beautifully you can grab a ticket right up until Wednesday. It is worth it. If I were a millionaire and had a huge stately home I would have stolen the entire cast to come and perform at my house. It could have been the greatest Chinese takeaway on record. With your groans ringing in my ear for bad punning I shall leave you.

This a four star review.


Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet. Follow hos blogspot at

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