Gerry Cottle has been making British circus history ever since he ran away to join the circus at the age of 15. He has been responsible for numerous wow moments in the arena, most notably in the 90s with the Circus of Horrors and the Moscow State Circus. Now he’s back to catapult circus into the 21st Century.
Flashy aerial numbers and fire performances were a hit, as well as the whip cracking Cossacks from the Moscow State Circus
WOW! Circus celebrates Gerry Cottle’s 50-year career by performing 50 acts in 100 minutes. But does more acts equal better circus? Not in my book. Even with the minuscule attention span of the young in mind, this conveyer belt pace circus failed to lift the wow factor through the big top roof. No time to build up anticipation or raise excitement, the next act was already waiting at the foyer.
Most of the young troupe have been students at Gerry Cottle’s circus school in Somerset (a bit like Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters in X-Men). The talented performers charmed with juggling displays, roller skating, trick cycling and magic routines. Cottle’s own daughter and grandchildren formed the main attraction,Magique, an all-female illusionist group with extravagant, yet slightly repetitive vanishing acts.
Music has always been the backbone of a Gerry Cottle show. Reliving the past five decades in music and dress style meant that the show began as a Fred Astaire musical and ended as a Rammstein concert. Still, music was cleverly integrated into acts. The motorcycle high-wire daredevil number paired with Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell was a real gem.
However, squeezing in 50 acts didn’t leave any room for performers to enjoy the limelight. The brilliant Tanzanian Tornadoes (touring with the Circus of Horrors) did no less than five separate acts during the show. One or two longer slots would have given them time to work the crowd properly.
None of this seemed to bother the young spectators I talked to after the show. Flashy aerial numbers and fire performances were a hit, as well as the whip cracking Cossacks from the Moscow State Circus. The Mexican juggling sensation El Mariachi Marquez was highly popular with children and mums alike due to his Antonio Banderas-esque outlook.
Gerry Cottle presented us with high-octane and visual, yet fairly ordinary, family entertainment. Call me old school, but some of us take a bit longer than two minutes to be truly wowed.