The Moscow State Circus

My evening had not got off to a good start. My +1 was late, my pinot grigio was sour, and I was lamenting my incapacity to deal with such minor issues. But as I walked across Preston Park, catching the smell of popcorn with a grand marquee in sight, I was invigorated: The circus was in town.

Gleefully, I explored the mini-world of candy floss, Russian merchandise and high-quality portable toilets. While fringe festivals largely take place in the cosy (/overcrowded) upstairs of pubs, secondary to their venue, the Moscow State Circus is a grand, standalone event that dwarfs its competitors: An established, professional show with a big budget. As such, it is difficult not to put it on a pedestal.

And it wasn’t just the setting: some of the gymnastics were incredible. Early on in the show, a woman circled three hoops – one on her neck and one on each foot – while suspended mid-air. Later, three jugglers played catch with dizzying rapidity as they rotated on a podium. The performers were all accompanied by bizarre, incongruous props and a sometimes intense mixture of trance music and strobe lightning – altogether, it provided quite the spectacle.

However, the backbreaking acrobatics were interspaced with the markedly less enjoyable performance of two clowns. They occasionally entertained with some truly creative theatre – as when they simulated rain through sticking a water bottle on the peak of an umbrella. Mostly, however, they were predictable and banal.

The finale was also lacking in bite, constituting a series of repetitive and not hugely impressive acrobatic jumps, after which the circus congregated on stage to clap in 4/4 rhythm – not quite the vast human pyramid I was expecting.

Nonetheless, the Moscow State Circus provides guaranteed entertainment gelled with an eccentric charm. Definitely one of the Fringe’s more reliable offerings.

Reviews by Joshua Feldman

Marlborough Theatre

The Room in the Elephant

★★★★
The Warren: Theatre Box

Both Worlds

★★★★
The Warren: Main House

Animal Farm

★★★
The Warren: Theatre Box

Brainchild

★★★
The Warren: Theatre Box

Everything That's Wrong with the Universe

★★★★
The Dukebox Theatre

All Change

★★★

The Blurb

The Moscow State Circus brings its latest,most spectacular show to date to the UK with this sensational extravaganza Babushkin Sekret feauring a mammoth cast of Russia's finest circus artistes.