Last time I saw circus mixed with flapper era razzle-dazzle and golden-age Hollywood themes, it was in the Broadway musical debut of Cirque Du Soleil, Paramour. Now, Gostinitsa – the outstanding new show from Moscow State Circus – takes the same glamorous aesthetic but eschews attempts at plot, setting its high-skill acts within the comings and goings of a fantasy hotel.
Dressing up boxes, jewels, and the English countryside are three of the prominent phrases that stick in my mind from the Giffords Circus website. And, as if by magic, they have all been brought to life in the quintessentially quaint circus pitch in the fields of Fennells Farm, and in the Elizabethan opulence that waits inside the bright white tent.
Circus Zyair was one of the first classic tenting companies I ever saw, back in 2014. I remember loving the show, and the review I wrote has been consistently one of the most visited pages of this site ever since. But now I wonder, ‘What if that was my inexperience with the form showing? If I saw the same production now would it still impress?’
Contemporary circus is making ever-increasing ripples on the surface of the UK performing arts scene and, for three days every other spring, the Canvas showcasing event allows industry professionals to look deeper into the swell of current circus creation to access a range of productions that mainstream attention otherwise misses.
The promenade production is set, for the most part, in the backstage area of Ffwrnes, Carmarthenshire’s newly designated circus-theatre centre. We begin, however, in the foyer, where television screens play news footage of civil disobedience and violence, while a beige-clad body lightly moves above our heads; a detached, dreamlike observer to the realities of anger and strife below.