Circus 1903 (Royal Festival Hall)

Circus 1903 returns to London to bring some of the magic of s traditional Big Top to the setting of the concert hall. For those of us who were taken regularly to sawdust-filled rings with high wire spectacles, performing animals, and low-level amusements, it feels endearingly safe and familiar.

In a show with high production values, a wide variety of acts including acrobats, a juggler, balancer, contortionist, and much more, audiences have their chance to laugh, marvel, hold their breath or – if you’re one woman in the front stalls – scream!

Significant Object's elephants in Circus 1903
Significant Object’s elephants in Circus 1903

Ringmaster “Willie Whipsnade” is a natural with children invited up from the audience, and displays an ingratiating American bonhomie throughout. Animals are of course now banned from shows, so prize elephants Queenie and baby Peanut are puppets, animated in War Horse style.

This show keeps the interest throughout with a constant parade of performers, a dash of humour, and a dazzling finale on the “Wheel of Death”. You’ll grip the arms of your seat, be amused by the unscripted antics of child volunteers, and just plain enjoy a good approximation of what might have been experienced on Circus Day.

The Daring Desafios in Corcus 1903
The Daring Desafios in Corcus 1903

The Circus may have packed up and moved on by the time you read this, but I’m sure it will return to delight and divert the people of the capital for the next Christmas season.

Images by Manuel Harlan.

LouReviews paid for a ticket to see Circus 1903.