The circus has come a long way in a short space of time, overcoming its tired image and reinventing itself as a modern, 21st Century artform.
The Exploded Circus, by the Mimbre company, is a perfect example of how the classic big top skills such as juggling, acrobatics, tightrope walking, not to mention good old fashioned clowning around will always find favour with audiences, especially if there is a compelling story running alongside them. And it is in its narrative where this production really excels. For those of us fortunate enough to be present at the world premiere of this wonderfully unique production on Friday evening, it was the stage setting which immediately took one’s breath away.We were informed via our programmes that the story began with an explosion in a circus, which had been caught and frozen in time but it is only when you saw the stage for the first time that you fully understood this ambitious concept.
I would wager a 99 ice cream that this grand old theatre on Worthing seafront has never hosted a production as visually exciting as this one. There was certainly a lot to take in, including a huge frame enveloping the stage and supporting props such as drums, trapeze ropes, bike parts and even a horse’s head.
I don’t know about everybody else but this audience member found it quite bewildering at first, although it wasn’t long before it all started to make sense.
One of the unique selling points of the show is its all-female cast and all six of them captivated us in their own way.
It is a production very light on dialogue but it was not long before each character was given the opportunity to showcase her personality. The central figure is the tragicomic ringmistress who also fulfils the mandatory clown role. This bumbling figure eventually emerges as an accomplished multi skilled performer, more than a match for the superb acrobat, juggler and daredevil highwire experts, all of whom also managed to tell their own stories expertly.
The hour long show really was an edge-of-the-seat affair and culminated in a life affirming conclusion. It was a fitting way to start the theatre’s Summer of Circus season, which begins on June 22, with a bang.