Circus In Hand

The Circus In Hand experience is almost undoubtedly one unlike anything you've seen before. Its aim is to recreate the entertainment of a more conventional circus in an infinitely smaller space, with only six performers and a host of puppets. Well, to call them puppets is slightly misleading: they would be more bluntly, and arguably more effectively, described as pieces of fabric, that are twisted about and molded into acrobats, tightrope walkers and elephants. Whilst that may on first reading sound ridiculous, and in some respects it is, the characters created and the action that unfolds is rendered more impressive when it is considered in context of their makeup. The movements simulated by the cast and their meager props, although sloppy at times, were convincingly lifelike. More importantly, the children in the audience seemed to be able to emotionally invest in the characters they created.

The performance starts with a row of neon strips hanging in a darkened room, which went on to recreate the entrance to a more conventional canvas circus tent and had the children cooing in awe before the show even got started. Then from the darkness, the troupe and their most prominent puppet appeared and the action got underway. In the course of the hour long show, Circus In Hand ticked every circus act related box you could possibly hope for. The highlights included the taming of the lion Fernando, the entrancing elegance of the gymnasts and the ludicrous posturing and posing for the not-so-strong man.

There were undeniable moments of slapstick comedy, and a few where the adults in the audience seemed to laugh more than the children. However, at times the stage seemed too crowded, with the realities of the six performers contorted around small objects in a bid to make them play their part.

Overall A bit of a bizarre concept, but the production demonstrated flashes of inventiveness and originality nonetheless.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
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Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
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The Blurb

The colourful stripes of a big top magically transform into circus characters - animals, trainers, acrobats and clowns. Every act has its own storyline with an unexpected outcome. Delightful entertainment for all the family.

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