It is a little disconcerting plunging into the darkness of a Big Top on a sunny afternoon, two hours after a Royal Wedding but, with a show which includes both drum majorettes and Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Circus Vegas seems to be continuing the Special Relationship.
Circus Vegas tries to put its own stamp on the institution that is the American circus.
Featuring the usual medley of acts: clowns, acrobats and dancers, Circus Vegas tries to put its own stamp on the institution that is the American circus. The lights run to theme and under the blaze of red, white and blue this loud exhibition showcases other features of American culture. Cage riders fill the tent with exhaust fumes as they buzz like trapped flies against their metal zorb, whilst set changes are masked with sequin clad showgirls, their ostrich plumes the solitary nod to the titular Vegas. The performers are obviously aware of the timing of events and the choreographed transitions looked well-rehearsed, however, the energy of the company clearly suffered from the performance being a Saturday matinee. The great exception to this was the irrepressible clown, (thankfully less make-up clad than the terrors of Stephen King novels), who romped around the ring, pulling members of the audience out to act as the central entertainment for portions of the show.
The high points of a circus performance are almost always the same and Circus Vegas proved no exception. The best moments were the feats of exceptional skill and derring-do that cannot be accomplished by mere mortals. The impossible tightrope walkers edging their way across the heights of the Big Top are the heart of the circus experience and were appropriately the pièce de résistance of this particular show. The morbid tension of will-they-won’t-they-fall voyeurism is what makes the audience gasp and feel as though they have received their money’s worth. Circus Vegas was never more transfixing than at these times.
Circus Vegas would benefit from extending the slickness and vigour of their best acts to all other parts of the show. The sign of a great company is how they handle not just the ups but the inevitable downs and Circus Vegas showed its weak spots therein. If there had been a contingency plan in the form of backup routines to employ during equipment failure, as occurred during the cage riding episode, the whole show would be elevated and become a top class act.