Category Archives: Circus

Review Cannonballista, Sherman Theatre by Eve Limbrick

A production exploring the Inner self that tells us to just – Do it!

Betty Bruiser lives inside of Liz but is projected as a character completely outside the norms of Liz Clarke. Betty is a person of complete contradiction to Liz, who is an insider living in the comforts of motherhood and home. The show creates a sense of grief and the trauma that has engulfed her from the loss of her sister. Growing from this is Betty Bruiser, the electric blue superhero alter ego.

Betty is tough, Loud and electric . Betty captivated the entire audience with her incredible mix of live art, music and burlesque.

Cannonballista explores grief in a completely new light, losing someone who is close to you and the ways in which we escape from bereavement. For Liz, Betty is a powerhouse who brings Liz out of herself and into a complete sense of invincibility even in the moments that Liz wants her gone, Betty is there fighting for Liz and her need to cope. The audiences were given the opportunity to form a bond with Betty and understand Liz when we delve into the character.

It is show worth the watch if you are exploring yourself and your womanhood. You may find your own inner superhero such as Betty Bruiser. Cannonballista is an explosive performance that will stick with you in times of love and times of loss.

Eve Limbrick

Review Red Bastard : The Original Show by Hannah Goslin


5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)


How lucky am I, that less than a week after seeing a theatrical hero for the first time, I was able to see the show that started it all – Red Bastard : The Original Show.

While Lie With Me focuses on love and how we all lie, the original show questions our dreams, our lack of or even fear of the truth and our lack of being interesting. What a perfect audience are the British to tackle these issues!

Red Bastard has a commanding power. Unlike other performances when audience members hesitate and struggle with being interacted with, you expect it with Red Bastard. But part of you wants to be commanded by him, you want him to interact and his clever approach to the performance is to feed off what we give. How amazing is this performer that he is unfazed by this and utalising it for his own theatrical creation.

He is mean. He is loving. He gives 0 sh**s and we love it. We are masochistic in a sense that we crave his abuse, his comedy and his surprises. Because BOY are there surprises. You can never tell when the next one will be.

It is admiring to watch his ability to push boundaries with a sense that the fundamentals are rehearsed but that Red Bastard is the master of improv.

If you ever do anything with your life – see Red Bastard. Join in. And come away with possibly one of the funniest, most enjoyably insulting performances that you will never want to end.



Review Be Prepared, Ian Bonar, Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin


4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


A room with only a table, bible and vase of flowers, Be Prepared certainly is not preparing us for what is ahead.

As the lights go down, some quirky music begins from the audience and out comes our performer, hidden within us.

Be Prepared takes a look at one man, his grief of losing his father, reminiscence of his childhood and life and his chance encounter with a stranger that brings his life and grief into perspective.

The majority of this production is a monologue; chopping and changing the story, we pick up bits and pieces of his narration and feel the tense and nervous mannerisms of the character. Ian Bonar is captivating in his production and this monologue is never boring and always engaging; taking the time to look directly at us as he talks, making us feel included and that this production is very personal.

This addictive speech is interrupted by physical breaks, highlighted by changes in light and sound. It shocks the system, shocks you out of rhythm and emanates the system interruption that grief must also give.

This combination of two theatrical forms is never boring and we sit wishing to hear more, to know the story and find out what happens. He is comical, earnest and friendly and all we want to do it sit and listen.

Ian Bonar has taken on a creative and unusual approach to story telling in theatre. Be Prepared is honest, warm and in a way relaxing to watch which is what captivating theatre should sometimes be.



Review Becoming Shades, Chivaree Circus, Vault Festival by Hannah Goslin


5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)


In the deep dark underground of The Vaults in London, Vault Festival obtains every corner. Lightened by UV and Neon, packed full of people, in rooms that seemingly appear from nowhere – what  a perfect place to stage an apocalyptic underworld full of circus extraordinaire.

Becoming Shades is mostly entirely run by women – but these women are fierce. They occupy this expanse of an Underworld, making us stare and gasp in awe at their circus techniques – but not all is what it seems. This is dark, real dark – a feeling of two acrobatics with a grudge; a girl pulled into the chaos and forced to perform; three henchmen and their comical relationships; all run by our ‘ring leader’ – a gas masked mystery, moving almost like an old person but still curious and inhuman-like.

This promenade performance moves the audiences across the space – our henchmen guiding us with mime and fear – we’re never sure if they will hurt us or play with us. They move us with such ease – the lighting changing and acting as a beacon for where we must go.

The costumes and set are exactly what you would expect – reused material yet with a finesse of circus tradition; everything encompasses this watery, dark underground world.

There’s no ‘tud dah’ moments; no smiles; we know we cannot be hurt and we will leave eventually but there’s the 1% that makes you think you’ll be with this group of mischiefs forever.

The stunts are undeniably creative, surprising and inspiring; seeing each muscle in the performer’s bodies move in the light as their sheer strength and flexibility turns around a rope; silks; flaming hoops and so on. And then there are fire breathing, juggling, all to grab your attention and keep you guessing.

The cast themselves did a great job of constant character; the interval let us stay in the area and they loitered; looking sad and bewildered; listening to the live music which was very necessarily dark, indie and mood enhancing. Or they decided to play with us, invite us to be entertained instead of checking Twitter.

Beyond Shades evokes a little reminder of No Fit State Circus ; energetic, unusual but still with their own take and own identity. Just as No Fit, they are incredible and nothing short of sheer perfection, something like you have never seen before.

Hannah Goslin



4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


Slava’s snowshow is completely original and unlike anything you might have seen before,  although it may be triggering for those with a serious clown aversion (thanks to Stephen King and his fondness for drain-based terror!).

Polunin’s production straddles the traditional theatre show, mime, the avant garde, the clowning niche and pure spectacle.  The resulting concoction is one that surprises, delights and tickles the audience.  Balloons crop up here and there. A rocking horse, stars and a moon, a music box, a swing. Beautifully designed props and scenery by Ivan Yarapolskiy and Dmitry Khamzin pick at your childhood memories (and at times – your nightmares!).

Slava’s snowshow does not have a narrative or a beginning, middle or an end. It’s actually hard to know where the vignettes and sketches will lead, but beneath the playful care-free demeanour of the show, every step, breath and look is careful, choreographed and deliberate.

An insignificant nod of a head, a wink, a snail’s pace trudge across the stage – the movements toe the line between tenderness and tragedy, laced with clownery and foolishness.

This production deliberately disrupts the frenetic pace and convention of many modern productions.  It crosses the barriers between the audience and the action on stage and playfully invites adults to re-enter the colourful imaginarium of their youth.

You will instantly lower your guard, becoming absorbed in the wonder of the physicality and comic energy of the clowns the and sheer absurdity of the vignettes. But Slava’s snowshow truly succeeds in speaking to your inner child – and the sheer simplicity of this patchwork of comedy is effective and stunning.

The theatrical inspiration may have come from Chaplin, from Ukranian dramaturgs like Gogol and from street theatre and pantomime – but the language of Slava Polunin is completely universal.

The on stage action is part-dream, part-fantasy and complete spectacle. Polunin’s aim was to fuse together the tragic and the comic and create a kaleidoscope of colour, events and sound. His intention was to revitalise the way modern audiences respond to clowning…the result is more personal, more intelligent and intriguing than anything you might  have experienced at a birthday party or witnessed on cheesy Saturday night TV.

The scenes created on stage are wonderfully inventive – a bed becomes a boat, a coat stand becomes a person and curtains become snowy rocks.  The action on stage spills out into the audience frequently.  Slava’s clowns walk over the backs of audience chairs, a giant cobweb is passed over the heads of the audience and without spoiling any surprises – there is carnage in the theatre at the end of the show. I feel sorry for the people brushing that up!

Even if clowns really aren’t your cup of tea – this is unmissable.

4 stars


Type of show: Theatre

Title: Slava’s Snow Show

Venue: Wales Millennium Centre (Cardiff)

Dates: 17-21  October


Created and staged by Slava Polunin

Stage Technician: Ivan Yarapolskiy

Sound Technician: Alexey Lavrentyev

Light Technician: Alexander Iakolev


An Interview with Des George, winner of the Best Promoter, Rural Touring Awards.

Photographic credits Keith Morris

Hi Des great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

Hi my name is Des and I am based at Neuadd Dyfi a venue in West Wales.

The venue you support is called Neuadd Dyfi and is in West Wales. how is the venue used by the local community?

Over the last 20 years we have worked hard to create a flexible space. Flexibility is the key. A community hall has to attempt to do all things for all. Though there are some compromises we manage to hold full scale pantomimes, art exhibitions, community lunches wedding receptions play groups dance theatre workshops, Zumba Women’s institute and blood donor sessions.

Theatre Rum Ba Ba performing “L’Hotel at Neuadd Dyfi, Aberdyfi

How did you get involved in supporting Night Our performances at Neuadd Dyfi?

I met the legendary John Prior at a village hall forum around about 1999 he suggested Frank Hennessey & Friends we had a superb “Night Out “ and I was sold on the concept

Night Out financially underwrites the majority of the cost of booking professional touring work for smaller venues, community halls and schools. Would you be able to book work in your venues without Night Outs support?

We do book work in our hall without Night Out support but if we didn’t have their help this would severely restrict the range and quality of the events we put on. Night Out gives us and the performers the confidence to “be bold”

Your venue has a very diverse artistic programme including family productions, folk music, musical cabaret, adult drama and opera. How do you decide on what type of work to programme in your venue?
It would be great to say that it is based on sound market research and a deep understanding of the Arts. To be honest is largely what tickles our fancy. For the last three years I have attended the National Rural Touring Forum conference which has been excellent for seeing showcased examples some of which are in their development stage. Hosting an event that has been through the Night out vetting procedure is also a good filter. Variety and quality are the key.

Congratulations on winning the award for Best Promoter in the Ticket source Rural Touring Awards. The awards recognise the valuable work of productions, venues, promoters, schemes, and staff in the rural touring sector What qualities would you say are required for a successful promoter?
Research, marketing and being prepared to take risks. Develop and look after your audience. Create a welcoming atmosphere. Think about the layout most appropriate for the show theatre, cabaret , in the round. This can make a great difference to the success of the event. Be prepared to take risks and move on from failure.

We spoke to Peter Gregory, Head of Night Out at Arts Council Wales about the Night Out scheme and Des.

How does Night Out as an organisation support organisations such as Neuadd Dyfi to programme high quality touring productions?

Des George and the team of volunteers in Neuadd Dyfi work tirelessly organising a myriad of events and activities for their community. They use the Arts Council of Wales’ Night Out scheme to take away the financial risk of booking professional shows. In the same way that many of the major Theatres and Arts Centres get funding Night Out allows small community halls to book amazing shows. Night Out provides advice ,support and will often ensure that high quality companies that normally tour to Theatres also provide high quality shows for community halls.

Des recently won the award for Best Promoter in the Ticket Source, Rural Touring Awards. In your own words why do you think Des won this award?

The commitment from Des is second to none and the feedback we get from the companies who perform in the hall is always positive. Not only does he ensure everything is correct technically, the performers are fed and watered and welcomed into the local community. In the words of one happy company “ Des is a God amongst men”

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision Are you aware of any barriers to accessing high quality productions for the audiences you support?
There is often a perception that because it is held in a village hall that it will be an amateurish production. There is so often the statement “Oh I don’t like that sort of thing” . In today’s environment of every home having widescreen TV’s, iPods, iPad’s, streaming videos, instantly obtainable music of any genre it is a battle to show that a shared experience at a live production is special

If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?
For us I would like to develop our youth theatre provision. Active involvement.

What excites you about the arts in Wales? What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers?

I think that ACW has been absolutely right in concentrating on maintaining their support for performance. They have been good to us in a number of our capital projects but without the performances we wouldn’t have a community hall we would just have a hall. The recent report that support for the Arts is being strengthened in the regions not just London centric is very encouraging.
My advice to a potential audience member is do take the time to read that poster, have a look at what’s on locally and make that small bit of effort needed to venture out for a “Great Night Out”.

Thanks for your time Des

Review Mother Africa, Khayelitsha – My Home , Peacock Theatre by Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Described as a crossbreed of traditional African dance and circus stunts, Mother Africa is an explosive and fun event to attend.

While I felt it more leaned to the Circus route, the setting, language, music and dance all had the essence of traditional Africa, or at least what we believe it to be. Implemented with short narratives, the performers keep to a native tongue, and so the use of the universal language of gesture is relied upon, giving us the essence of peering through to their way of life. The production looks at the difference levels of Africa- the poor, the average, areas of boosting economy and the rich, not relying purely upon the negative connotations that can be associated with this vibrant country.

The music is interesting, majority positive and easy to listen to. The dancing is incredible, fast paced and interesting – leaving you slightly awe inspired as to the earthly, natural positioning of their body and its movement.

But what struck me was the circus skills. As a (not so secret) wannabe circus performer, despite my 0 skills, I have seen many a circus show/act in my years in performance art . And when you have seen something as much as that, you would think that you would grow a sense of numbness to the awe, to the fear. And I have to some extent. This is not to mean I do not enjoy it as much as I would have with those feelings still, but I have grown a different sense to it – more inspirational and a sense of learning. But somehow, Mother Africa revoked those old feelings. They take skills to a new death defying level, and the gentle shake of my head and grin at being shocked at the unbelievable tricks was constant.

Speaking to Jolene, one of Sadler’s Wells press managers, we agreed that Mother Africa is a interesting, warm and welcoming show mid-week after a hard day of work, a boring time in life or in general, a fantastic show to invest in.

Review Bianco, No Fit State Circus, Southbank Centre by Hannah Goslin

Image result for bianco no fit state

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

This being my third time to Bianco over the years, it’s as if I’m visiting an old friend. I know the general basics, I’m sure they still look the same but something is different, something better if better was even possible from the previous.

No Fit State’s Bianco is a vagabond group of circus skilled professionals clambering around a moveable stage in a more traditional tent. The combination of tradition and the modern combines equally in this show – we see trapeze, silks, juggling and so on, but they’ve taken a different take on them. The group of adult children, playing with one another, the audience, dressed in mismatched almost ‘steam punk’ –esque attire, there’s a non-placed era to the production and so ages and time are not a concept; the concept is fun, play and a group to be feared but which is hard to after them being so easy to love.

There is no fear to interact with us; at one point being stared at for a good 5 minutes even for me put me on edge, but also made me laugh. They flirted with us, not just with their charming conversation, the occasional wink and playful nature, but with their tricks – when we thought it would go one was it went another to surprise us. The performances were flawless.  And let’s be honest, who does not love a circus performer?

As I have said, returning to Bianco for a third time and being over quite a few years, I saw the original, an update and now a new version. The most poignant scenes are still there, perfected as always, but there are additions, new members of the family, updates and even different music. My only sorrow was to see that in previous productions there was a father figure amongst the family of nomads who is not in the current production who gave a sense of leadership, a feeling that these homeless travellers in their strange collection of clothing and intimacy with one another were lead by this man. Now it’s very much a young man’s game, and these grown children are enjoying life, meeting the boundaries of danger and having the time of their lives – there is nothing better than seeing performers enjoying their jobs. Now we could say this is brilliant acting; their banter with each other and ourselves just creating the playful atmosphere but somehow, I do not think even Olivier himself could fake pure joy of a part.

Bianco is nothing less that phenomenal. Harping back to traditional Circus, they have paid tribute to this but adding some things new and never before seen, with each resurrection of the show they keep even us old hat fans coming back for more.

 Run away with the Circus; Run away with Bianco.


Review Performance at The New Theatre by Lois Arcari



4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


Director James Williams was placed, alongside the producers at Arts Active Wales, with the admirable but ultimately unenviable task of threading together a week’s worth of workshops, carried out by young people who had never before met, together into a show worthy of the New Theatre.

Despite the insularity that is always a potential threat to any of these types of projects, they always expand outside their form – making it a real shame this performance, perhaps weighed down by the somewhat awkward virtue of its name, wasn’t a tad more well marketed. What the Sherman NT Connections festival did so well with interpreting set theatre pieces this project did for new material.

There were, of course, lots of layers of interweaving. The more complex ideas with the weaker ones, the reasonably large age gap of performers aged 14 – 25, and of course the disciplines of circus, design, dance, art, music and the spoken word. The poetry, overseen by Literature Wales was one of the highlights, although a few themes might’ve meandered, and there were moments where politics seemed a little indelicately transposed onto some performers. Having sat in on the workshop, any chinks in the material were minute distractions against the obvious double edged sword of the time frame, and the integration of every workshopped piece into the whole.


The ensemble for ‘Performance’ 2016

Community Music Wales where also very active in the show but where better executed and more memorable when used as a backbone for the other artforms. The Art and Design elements were the most sporadically used but well done; a Dali like background to an intense, exhaustive dance piece the most effective example. Impressive puppetry was also used, although the flashy teddy bear, turned Gothic by the lighting, would best be appreciated of those who, unlike this critic, have not been subjected to the ‘wonders’ of FNAF by younger family. No Fit State’s Circus performances showed the two most obvious flavours, a humorous but slight juggling gag to trapeze, but there will be no world in which the mastery of the latter doesn’t inspire some kind of awe.

All the elements worked well together, but Earthfall Dance had a monopoly on the night. Contemporary dance is one of those things all too easy to get wrong, viewed by the general public with cynicism, and even sometimes within the arts with a gentle wryness. In this show, it was stunning, performed by the trained dancers, with natural acting talent alongside passionate energy. It whipped up the most natural commentary and narrative of the night whilst seeming absolutely effortless. As always, simplicity was king and queen alike. Even though others without dance experience were involved, they too seemed totally natural. Whether swift and pulsating or tender and subdued, it was perfectly executed.

Overall, the pieces which were meant to form more of a cohesive story than a thematic connection were too brilliant not to hinder the more standalone pieces which would otherwise be fine if unengaging but it rather accurately depicted the current arts scene, whilst showing plenty of scope for new forms of talent. The difficulty in reviewing this was that any flaws are part of its form and therefore, any commentary can’t seem too constructive, but trying to bring young talent out of its usual spheres and into the general stage is an admirable thing. It was never going to be perfect or show any calculated insight, but it was certainly vibrant and showed plenty of the organic kind. Very much worth keeping an eye out for next year, but keeping it in context is essential for the ride.

Director: James Williams

Producer: Arts active
Assistant producers/collaborators: Literature Wales, No Fit State, Earthfall Dance, Community Music Wales, Criw Celf
Running time: 1 hr 20 mins


Interview Ellie Kate Edwards and Penarth Circus


Our project coordinator recently spoke to Ellie Kate Edwards about her background in Circus and her plans for a new Circus School and festival events in Penarth.

Hi Ellie you have a background in training with Circomedia and No Fit State Circus. Is it possible to give our readers some background information on yourself?

 Yes, I am from a little village In Caerphilly. I spent most of my childhood around horses and adventuring in the mountains. I loved dance and music. I was inspired by circus when I saw NoFit State’s ‘Immortal’ in Barry. It was the start of my obsession with circus. At the time I was studying social work and left the course to follow my passion. I started training in the South of Spain with a beautiful travelling community. They had an aerial rig in the most idyllic setting. I would train all day long getting blinded by the sun . I used to love looking at the sky line of the mountains while I was upside down. It was there that I decided to follow circus as a career and returned to study in Bristol.


Photographic Credit Paul Ripley

Thanks, was  there a moment when you thought, “this is the career for me?”

Absolutely, it’s an incredibly demanding and competitive career. I sometimes I think it must be very nice to have a fixed contract, paid holidays and some security in your work. Having said that I love circus and I would feel totally at a loss without it.  I have put countless hours into my passion and when you put so much love and work into something it becomes part of you.  I wouldn’t want to change that.

Are there any individuals or organisations that helped support you once you realised a career in circus was for you?

I have had a huge support from Nofit State all the way through my career. From helping with audition pieces, a traineeship and guidance with new circus ventures. There has always been someone from NoFit State with the right bit of support at exactly the right moment.

Awareness of circus as an art form is growing, organisations like No Fit State are leading the way in circus across the world.  In your opinion what is need to help the art form develop?

Circus is at a very exciting time in its development, It will be very interesting to see which directions it will take. When we train in circus schools we are allowed a period of time where we can be very creative and inquisitive with circus as a new art form, we can develop our skills as individuals find the material which is unique to each circus performer within their discipline and so prevent ever trapeze artist from performing the same routine.

Once we leave circus schools we very quickly learn that the opportunity for this creative exploration is limited and to make a career in circus we very quickly have to produce the work which is in demand. If we could access funding we could return to this with time to collaborations with other circus performers and artists from different art forms. We could again explore the opportunities to make circus political and find the possibilities for progression. There are a lot of possibilities and avenues to be explored still but circus performers and directors need to time and resources to research. I have recently started to put on circus events in my local area. I am finding that there are many venues who want to have circus shows in there venue as it reaches a large and diverse audience. The problem is it costs a lot of money to bring circus shows to venues and so it can only happen if the venue, company or a combination are prepared to take big financial risks. Opportunities to find match funding or funding to help venues set us as a circus venue could help this to happen.

Ineptgravity Photography

Photographic Credit Ineptgravity Photography.

You frequently support workshop activity with members of the public, do you think this type of activity is important and why?

Circus has always been a temporary moment of magic which would bring communities together to share the experience. Although the tent would get packed away and the circus would leave it would leave behind a mark and memories on a landscape. I think that re engaging with this shared creative energy which brings communities together can only be a positive thing.  I love how accessible circus is. There is something for everyone. It is a joy full activity to learn with constant challenges but also many small victories along the way. To begin with it is subtly physical and great for our physical and mental wellbeing. It teaches children to support and look after each other and allows adults to connect and get stronger and fitter but through a creative medium.

What are the opportunities for those interested in circus in Wales?

 You are lucky to live in Wales!  The opportunities are vast. No Fit state run a full program of classes for adults and young people in Cardiff the community there is vibrant supportive and addictive. You can also check out the opportunities for circus in other areas of Wales. There are many established community circuses offering training in different areas around Wales.


Photographic Credit Thomas Madhavan.

Elaine Bennett Co-founder of Penarth Circus and myself are so passionate about circus we would like to bring it to our doors steps. So we have started Circus Penarth. Over the summer we will be putting on workshops at many events and also we will be bringing some spectacular performances to Penarth Pier and other Vale of Glamorgan venues. We are hoping to start classes in Penarth over the winter.

That sounds great! If you were in charge of funding the arts in Wales what would be your priorities?

I would priorities bringing arts to vulnerable communities who could benefit from creativity. I think art can be used as a tool for empowerment and progress so why not channel it to communities who need this.  Having gained so much from the support of NoFit State Circus I would love to see the community in Cardiff continue to develop so they can keep giving this support to other people.  I would definitely prioritise keeping this community in Cardiff and  finding them a permanent community space. I would make the opportunities for funding more transparent and accessible to artists who are starting out and I would put a lot of energy in to keeping artists working as artists.

When you aren’t performing what do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to climb mountains, paddle in the sea and watch my little boy grow up very quickly. I love playing the piano accordion and currently I enjoy spending lots of my free time on Penarth Pier.

You are involved in some summer events at Penarth Pier can we know more?

 Yes.  We are organising and event called Y Môr – Bygones of Penarth, It will be performed in and around Penarth Pavilion on the 30th of July.  The event will involve local creative communities who will be supported by a professional cast and directed by Olga Ina Morati. We hope to bring the pier and pavilion to life in an immersive promenade performance recreating memories from Penarth pier through different points in history.

Over the summer we will also be performing and facilitating workshops at different Penarth events and festivals. Every Saturday in August we will be organising different circus and theatre acts as well as street shows to perform on the pier. We will keep you updated with our performances and visiting acts on our Penarth Circus Facebook page.

How do we get involved in your circus projects?

We are looking for community members who are interested in sharing their memories of Penarth Pier for Y Mor – Bygones of Penarth and also any creative individuals or groups who would like to get involved in the evenings events. If you are interested please contact us on; or through our Facebook page.

 Sounds great, many thanks for your time