Featuring a Game of Thrones themed homoerotic adagio, a gyrating hula hooper and even a flash of full-frontal nudity, Circus’sission is the definition of a circus stripped. Within the black and red confines of the Bosco Theatre, a variety of stand-alone performers engage and amuse the audience with their particular circus skill, whilst the affable compère, Cal Harris, lubricates the act changes with Ozzie charm and some bodily fluids.
Within the black and red confines of the Bosco Theatre, a variety of stand-alone performers engage and amuse the audience with their particular circus skill
From the off-the-cuff outset, Circus’sission exhibits relaxed, entertaining fare. This is how it must have been in the days of vaudeville, with acts as diverse as theatrical burlesque in the same programme as demonstrations on the cyr wheel. This variety billing extends to the whole run at Brighton Fringe as the acts change every night, which means tonight’s menu will offer a different pick of the day.
Yesterday’s special was the very special indeed Reuben R Kaye, who stole the show from showrunners Head First Acrobats. Towering above the audience in a sparkling sequined jacket, “glittering giant” Kaye entranced with his acerbic wit and Liza Minnelli eyes. Each pointed joke hit the mark, making even the dreaded audience participation a thing of hilarity rather than the uncomfortable squirming experience that it usually is. From the ribald core of his routine, Kaye finished with a mellow ballad, which showcased his rich baritone in what was an unexpectedly soulful end to a fantastic performance. It is with some regret I perused the Fringe guide to find that his was a one-night only performance.
This speaks to both the advantages and disadvantages of a rotating bill. Circus’sission has the skills to stand on its own merits, the performances by the original Head First Acrobatics are evidence of that, however, by inviting other artists there is a danger that one particular act will either eclipse or let down the rest of the program. In the performance I saw there was no disappointment, but the lack of a running theme or consistent quality of acts made for rather stochastic viewing. I never quite knew what I was going to get. Then again, that is both the joy and the frustration of a variety performance; it is the Forrest Gump “chocolate box” of the performing arts world.