A big red, white ‘n’ blue tent sits in the corner of the park, surrounded by big American style trucks to match, all emblazoned with circus imagery for Uncle Sam’s Great American Circus. Don’t expect to see any real Americans, but do prepare yourself for a polished representation of what popular imagination says a circus should be.
Here is a book that hits all my buttons: It’s a book about circus; it’s a book about writing; most importantly, it’s a book about writing about circus! David Lewis Hammarstrom wrote his first circus review at the age of 14, frustrated then – as I often am still now – about the lack of critical appraisal in a mainstream media that doesn’t know its circus onions, or in fan press that accentuates only positives and gives little sense of relative perspective.
Beautiful singing from Lil Rice and the compositions of Ollie Clark, which warm us with percussion-conjured cicadas, bullfrogs and buried tribal memories, are as enveloping as I remember. The shapes that appear between bodies and metal bands are as lushly developed, precisely positioned and technically impressive as I’d hoped.
Inside the art warehouse space of the Invisible Wind Factory, the smell of incense, free glitter and revolving ceiling decor have already set the scene for the height of Bruno & Sandy’s seventies splendour. Glinting racks of sequinned costumes and gold discs onstage fit right in, as big seventies voices sing slow-dance songs that give way to applause for the pair’s entrance.