Blackwood, Wales – until 9 May 2017
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?’ I’m nervous that getting my hopes too high for today’s show could result in disappointment. Flash forward half an hour…
The notes I tap into my phone quickly descend into all-caps and smiley emojis. I am having a brilliant time. Michael Ionescu is a delight to watch, with a gripping trapeze act balancing only on his head, and a handbalance sequence pulled off with panache and charm. Ben Coles’ clown compere is like everyone’s favourite Mr Tumble, infused with a little extra mischief-making spirit and a spattering of panto-dame. Jenny Glowacki is full of energy and charisma, opening the show with whoops and hula hoops, then later soaring above us on a cloud swing, face almost brushing the tent’s starred canvas.
The real star of the show though, is the way the whole programme has been pulled together by directors Chico Marin and Adam Ingham. The tent is intimate and energised, with impeccable music choices to keep our nerves buzzing. Somehow, the pair have managed to meld rave and rock stylings together into one top-notch family entertainment that propels us, zinging, through the evening. A grin is stretched across my face, my hand is clutching my heart.
Fluorescent flashes of costume and biker-leather looks interchange throughout the show; the charming nerdcore outfit of young Zyair Marin – who is a fabulous showman already and barely into double figures – performing with natural rhythm and audience rapport on the diabolo; his father Chico and grandfather Ernesto, as Los Marinos, on the highwire with studded waistcoats and shoulder stands; the invigorating laser man act of Marco Lorador and the three motorcylist Globe of Death, which has loomed as backdrop to every act, whetting anticipation.
Not all the performers have world-class pinnacles of technique but, more importantly, Circus Zyair knows how to put on a fantastic show, and that is why we’re here. Even the toilets and trucks are special, panelled with wood and headed with gleaming American-style cabs.
Amy Nash shares a cool choreography on an aerial hoop that spins on both the vertical and horizontal axis, adding extra dynamism to drops and poses. Julie Jookke presents a lyrical spinning pole number, whose accompanying track of neo-classical piano and electronic beat keeps us geared up through the more languid routine. Audience volunteers help fuel the fun (don’t panic, you’re allowed to say no), and there is so much vocal joy and enthusiasm in this tent that I perfectly understand why the teenager in front of me in the ticket queue was back for the second time this week with another friend, or why the man I speak to in the carpark is back for a third.
It’s inspiring to know that out-of-the way areas like the Welsh valleys can have access to high quality entertainment on their doorstep, and it’s important that companies like Circus Zyair continue to show the world that classical circus can be up-to-the-minute modern too. ‘Contemporary’ doesn’t just have to mean avant-garde experimental, and the traditional form of tenting circus doesn’t have to mean dated productions. The particular touring routes of different circus companies means that people don’t often get a chance to see a variety of shows in their region so it can be hard to develop a sense of relativity. Not all circuses are the same but I can happily say, for a great family entertainment, this is one of the best.