Circus 1903 at the Eventim Apollo

Circus 1903 is back in London for the Christmas season, this time at the Eventim Apollo Theatre (formerly Hammersmith Apollo Theatre). The central idea of the show and of the production company behind it is to revive the golden age of circus; it goes without saying that this is a modern circus, so no real animals, but a lot of talented artists to entertain the whole family during the festive season, with the additions of some brilliant puppeteers.

Valeri Lyubchev Tsvetkov and Yani Kostov Stoyanov (Stong Men) - Circus 1903 (2022) - Photo Credit Nick Rutter.
Valeri Lyubchev Tsvetkov and Yani Kostov Stoyanov (Stong Men) – Circus 1903 (2022) – Photo Credit Nick Rutter.

The show is presented by David Williamson as Willy Whipsnade, ringmaster and magician, and the format is simple: Whipsnade introduces different acts and interacts mainly with children (adults are mostly safe) to fill the gaps while the set is prepared for the following act. Whipsnade is very funny; he builds a great rapport with the audience and alternates comedy and magic in a seamless way. Children are enthralled and Whipsnade manages to entertain the whole family and keeps the show going flawlessly.

The circus acts come from all around the world and are what you would expect: teeterboard acrobatics, contortionists, aeralists, jugglers, equilibrists, and so on. They are all dressed in beautiful Victorian clothes and are extremely talented, professional, and entertaining. While I cannot watch a contortionist for more than 5 seconds, I enjoyed most of the acts and applauded with gusto at their incredible skills and polished performances.

The most memorable section for me was the puppeteers in the middle: I do not want to spoil the surprise, but let’s say I am not talking about traditional small puppets, these artists follow the footsteps of big puppeteering productions like War Horse and Life of Pi.

While I enjoyed the show, I was not blown away, maybe because I have seen a lot of circus productions in my life: Circus 1903 does not have the flamboyant dresses, the crazy colours, the magical storyline, the WOW factor, and the innovative acts that you get with Cirque du Soleil productions, but to be fair, that is not their claim, they want to bring back audience to the golden age of circus and rediscover the simple pleasure of watching people that have dedicated their lives to their art. While all acts are very skilled and sleek, I found most of them quite predictable. I think part of the problem was down to the location: while Eventim Apollo is a big theatre, the stage is not enormous and limits the kind of artists you can have; also, the beauty of a circus tent is that the performance happens in the middle of the audience, while in a theatre there is more distance between the act and the spectators.

Overall, it was a nice evening, I enjoyed the show, held my breath for a few artists, and laughed and applauded wholeheartedly at a few acts. It is a family-friendly production, and children will absolutely love it while keeping the adults entertained (albeit probably not blown away).

3 stars

Review by Fabio Ghiotto

Circus 1903 will astound, captivate, and transport audiences of all ages to the mesmerising Golden Age of circus. Hosted by the charismatic ringmaster David Williamson, Circus 1903 will feature many of the other incredible acts from previous years, with some brand-new acts to astound and excite audiences this festive season.

Joining the troop this year will be new acts, Strong Men, Yani Stoyanov and Valeri Tsvetkov performing power lift acrobatics with lyra performer, Sabrina Aganier on hoops and incredible contortionist, Senayet Asefa Amare returning from previous years.

They star alongside beloved returning acts such as the Teeterboard, Juggler Noel Landa and the Rola Bola and many more including the life size elephant puppets Queenie and Peanut.

Ringmaster – David Williamson
Acrobatic Bicycle – David Schnabel
Contortionist – Senayet Asefa Amare
Icarian Games – Mikiale Gebrekidan and Temesegene Geberetnsaa
Juggler – Noel Landa
Lyra – Sabrina Aganier
Rola Bola – Keniel Rodríguez Mesa and Samantha Roxy Montes de Oca
Russian Bar – Tymofii Chemko, Oleksii Balakhchy and Hryhorii Koptiev
Strong Men – Yani Stoyanov and Valeri Tsvetkov
Teeterboard Daniel Aguilar, Ronan Jenkinson, Mads Ludvigsen and Dmytro Sobakar
Elephant ‘Queenie and Peanut’ Puppeteers – Amelie Leroy, James Donovan, Jamie Morgan, Mikey Brett and Tom Norman


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