Review: The Webcam Circus Show (Brighton Fringe)

A new digital show at the Brighton Fringe created and performed by Tonino Scalia, The Webcam Circus Show is just what the title suggests – a family-friendly show, streamed across Zoom with a mix of live performance, film inserts, and video segments.

Scalia (a French-Italian actor, tutor and clown based in Glasgow) plays two roles: the ringmaster, Mr Loyal; and the clown Ninetto. The show runs just short of an hour, and audiences are encouraged to participate throughout through video and audio. I have no children to watch along with me, but I did have a teddy bear to join in (not a puppet, Mr Scalia!).

Now, magic, slapstick and circus is one of the easiest forms with which to appeal to children. It can be funny, daring, and dazzling all in one. In one of the routines, as Ninetto defies the laws of gravity and walks on something which is far from unbreakable, one child was heard to say wow with wonder in his voice. Spectacle pulls young minds in.

However, these forms are hard to translate in digital form, and I felt it took a while for the virtual space to really warm up and get everyone engaged. I wondered whether it might have been more effective making the clown a mime in the Pierrot/Marcel Marceau mode rather than having him chatting to the audience.

The show takes the form of looking back to the great days of circus (with some interesting archive clips) and then demonstrating a trick or turn from a particular category. At various points, the audience is brought in to help move the show along, although I suspect a larger group may involve a little more ‘crowd control’ and use of the mute button! Your little ones should have fun.

Promotional image for The Webcam Circus Show

When I was a child circuses were big spectacles, including animal acts along with the troupe of clowns, the trapeze and highwire acts. It was all about a world under that Big Top that was glittery, other-worldly, and escapist. The Webcam Circus Show nods back to these old days with a mention of the lion tamer – but never fear, the animal on display here is much smaller and definitely artificial, although it certainly displays an amusing personality.

Although I was definitely entertained by the show, I felt the introductions may have been a little too wordy for younger members of the audience, and it might have been an idea to use captions or animation a bit more to keep things flowing. The mix of live performance and video is certainly novel, and allows Scalia not only to double-up on the characters on display, but also to allow glimpses of action which would be impossible without presenting a much more high-tech production.

This show will allow you to laugh and maybe, just learn a little bit about this ancient art of entertainment.

Fringe rating: ***

You can book in to view The Webcam Circus Show here, with tickets costing £5. There are shows scheduled on 30 May, 5-6 June, 12-13 June, 19-20 June, and 26-27 June. You will need to have Zoom installed to participate, and the show is best viewed on a desktop or laptop computer.

For more about Tonino Scalia, you can read an article here about the show or follow him on Twitter.

LouReviews received complimentary access to review The Webcam Circus Show.