In fact I'd go as far as to say that this year's Giffords show - 'Lucky 13' - is the best night out in the UK right now, so don't miss it if it comes anywhere near you. We took the opportunity to go twice while they were in Bath - walking distance from PIANA Towers, which is awesome, and handy - and took up our usual seats, right next to the sound board, which turned out to be fortuitous as the lovely Patricia gave us the hot tip that Saturday night is always the bounciest, best show of the week and that we should come back then. So we did. And she was right.
The conceit of this year's show is 'The Fine Arts' - the Circus is in fact an opera / ballet recital accompanied by fine painting, compered by a posh boy on the piano who is accompanied by a rather randy posh boy on the percussion, with a busty and bouncy soprano hitting the high notes. But to their horror the travelling Transylvanian Circus of Nancy Andromeda gatecrashes the ring, with bright green caravans, donkeys, rowdy, out-of-control bawdy Ukrainians, Gipsy fiddlers, truly hopeless magicians and even more hopeless, hilariously unfunny, emotionally-broken clowns. And ridiculous amounts of fun ensue as the competing troupes fight for the limelight.
There are wire-walking Satyrs (is that a Satyr?? Pan?? With the ripped abs and the stage lighting there's a Caravaggio thing going on)
There's the Ethiopian jugglers, scaring poor Dame Winifred Letch senseless as they hurl blazing brands inches from her face -
Lots of excellent musical numbers, and Dame Winifred sings up a storm - and makes many a reference to her bountiful, bouncing bosoms -
There's the lovely Nancy - nope, I shall not give her real name, as Googling her will lead to a barrage of NSFW, so let's just call her the lovely and very, very funny Nancy Andromeda -
Here she is strangling Nell, in real life the owner of the circus, because let's face it, some days you do just want to strangle the boss. With a snake.
Here's the brilliant reveal about to happen - Nancy monologues, the lights drop, the unfunny clown looks distraught and broken - because we all know about the tears of a clown - and then he flies, like a bird - look, so beautiful etc. But that's not the BIG reveal - the big reveal is that as he looks all heartbroken and loses his red clown nose, he takes his shirt off, and BLIMEY - Clown got abs! Clown got pecs! The hen party down front let out a gasp and he smirked at them. Then he flew. Excellent!!!
But I didn't take shots of that - just the poignant, weepy prologue -
Snake, it's a snake, ohhh it's a snake ....
And I've said it before, I will say it again - Nancy's face makes me laugh, every time. She is very, very pretty, it's not that I'm mocking the afflicted or anything, but when she pulls her eyes around for comic effect I crack up. And she pulls in some of the best, biggest laughs of the show by pulling her eyes around to the sounds of Aqua's synthetic Europop - but you'll have to see the show to know what I'm talking about.
We have hand-balancing - I gasped -
we have out-of-control, bawdy Ukrainians - I gasped, again - and my hands at this point are pretty sore from the wild applause -
And we had the giant, 'get the whole company in the ring' musical finale, get the children from the front 3 rows in the ring dancing (I always love that bit!) then it was over for another year. Or maybe we'll squeeze in a trip to Cirencester to catch one more.
Hang on - they came back! The whole company - and they joined forces - the hand balancer, the bawdy Ukrainians, the fire-hurling Ethiopians - to create one utterly GINORMOUS human pyramid - it was brilliant, and these guys have balls like bull elephants. Fearless in the face of delivering entertainment, it was a brilliant, unexpected and apparently 'first time of the tour' way to end the show.
So - Giffords Circus - best night / morning / afternoon out in the whole damn country, and not many more chances to see them on the current tour, so get out there and get your tickets in, now - http://www.giffordscircus.com.
Final words and thanks - Tweedy the clown is simply brilliant, as usual, and I managed to catch only this rather unflattering shot of him catching his man-parts in the piano -
OUCH!!!! Poor Tweedy!!!
Massive thanks to the lovely girl on the Box Office who fortunately remembered me from the morning when I dashed down to secure seats for the evening. Because I lost the damn tickets. I have no doubt they are somewhere 'safe' in the house, but God knows where. But she remembered the Circus fan lunatic who'd torn down that very morning to part with forty-two quid, and gave me replacement tickets. THANK YOU BOX OFFICE GIRL!! And even more thanks to the lovely Patricia, girfriend of Odoroff the Bemedalled Magician and friend of Boris the Dancing Bear, who recommended that we come back Saturday and was delightful company during the shows and the interval. And did a great job of balancing the sound levels over the PA in the face of close scrutiny from the council due to a complaint from some miserable bugger resident near the park.
And big thanks to Adam, one of the chefs at Circus Sauce, for creating such a great dinner, and for doubling up rather manfully as waitress. Circus Sauce - did I somehow forget to mention that they have a fabulous on-site restaurant, serving last night a seared tuna nicoise salad, pink topside of beef with Bernease (sp?) sauce and roasties, and a poached strawberry pannacotta? Thus allowing you to have a quite brilliant complete night out, and dine with the stars of the circus. But bring your own wine, they aren't licensed.
Oh, and Adam and Oliver (the other chef) did some crimping, on the theme of soup. Which is all very apt, given that the show's director did the first series of Mighty Boosh.
Absolutely brilliant. Miss it at your peril.
p.s. there was an electronic keyboard of some flavour on stage, making vaguely harpsichordy sounds, so it's not quite 100% off-topic.
UPDATE - found the lost tickets. 24 hours too late, but found them. Under one of the many iPads in the house. There's a moral to this part of the story I'm sure, but I can't work out what it is.