In the words of my boyfriend (who had never before been to a circus):
‘That was probably my favourite evening out –EVER!’
Yessir. The circus is magical. And this one is more magical than most.
It was the first night, so the performance wasn’t polished to perfection yet. But somehow that made it even more likeable. There weren’t any big mistakes, nothing near it; it just wasn’t as well-oiled as I know it will be in a few weeks’ time. But everything was done with such a sense of fun and enjoyment that this version was just as good, if not better, than later ones will be.
We stepped through the doors and were greeted by a guy in pure steampunk get-up, riding a penny farthing round the cube in the centre of the room, blasting on his horn when he turned a corner or there were people in the way. The tone of the evening was set.
In the centre was a metal structure covered with a gauze-y material. There were no seats, so some people stood around and naturally others sat at the front, in front of the cube. Soon the performers trooped in. The people at the front felt smug that they had had the foresight and luck to sit in the best place. Then one of the performers leant close to a group of them near me and said:
‘They think they’ve got the best seats in the house. Wait and see….’
The big thing about Bianco is that the crowd moves. And I mean MOVE, get out the way, or you might get hit in the face by this acrobat’s foot, kind of move. Everything changes around, the people, the set, the big, metal frames that make up most of the apparatus. It is fantastic. Everyone in the show knew exactly what job they had to do and went and did it. But not in a boring way, it a graceful, jumping and swinging way with smiles and grins and genuine enjoyment, that made it almost as pleasurable as the actual performance.
In this kind of show it is a great natural advantage to be tall-arses like me and my boyfriend. Once the movement started and the crowd was herded around by the stewards to wherever was necessary in that moment, I could see some OAPs and parents with kids looking bewildered and more than a little anxious. But that is the great thing about this show. Not many other circuses give you such a sense of actual jeopardy, but neither do they get you right up into the action. I dread to think how long the risk assessment took. And by the end I saw the same grey-haired couple smiling and applauding louder than the rest of them.
But once the crowd is stood still and watching some part of the show, that is when the real magic happens. The audience is hushed, the live band soars into action, and the performers start. Their bodies are so strong, so sure of themselves. And the sequences are so inventive; in turns funny, melancholy, confusing and majestic. I know saying something is hard to describe as a writer is the ultimate cop-out, but I honestly don’t think I could do these people justice. You’ll just have to see it for yourself.