Circus Quirkus with my daughter, my grandson and one of his friends - courtesy of free tickets from Rotary, who apparently sponsor the shows throughout New Zealand. Good on them!
A slightly unusual circus in that it was performed in a theatre rather than a tent, but that didn't stop them being a very entertaining group. There were only ten or eleven performers all up, including the ringmaster, so there was a lot of work for all the cast to do. The three 'blokes' from Melbourne who did tumbling and acrobatics and slapstick were definitely among the crowd favourites because of their humour as much as anything - certainly humour adds significantly to the entertainment value of circus acts - but they were a very sharp group with great timing, energy and muscle.
Equally the clowning done on the tightrope at the end - by both the woman and the man - raised the bar considerably in what would have otherwise been a straightforward routine. One or two of the other acts might have benefited from more involvement with the clowning side of the circus. As we discovered from the two kids we had with us, something that is plainly difficult to an adult (even if it's made to look easy) doesn't necessarily grab children. The performers may be risking life and limb, but the kids are very blase these days about such feats, because of television, I guess.
Fortunately, this Circus Quirkus group has at least six men who can clown well, and who consequently engage the audience effectively. A couple of the women also did some clowning, though that wasn't the main aspect of their acts. There's something about clowning that involves, it brings the audience and performer together in a way that serious performance doesn't tend to do so well.
Oddly, the production chose to put a solo act on as the last one before the interval - a contortionist who finished up her act by shooting an arrow at a balloon. She held the bow in one foot and the arrow in the other, all the time balancing on one hand on an area only the size of her hand, and being twisted over the top of herself somehow. Unfortunately she missed the balloon twice - that's the sort of thing you can get away with in a humorous act: in a serious act where it's obvious what she's aiming to do, not doing it is quite a let down (and not just for the audience). She was a marvellous contortionist, there's no doubt; she had wonderful balance, and considerable grace. But something was amiss with the bow and arrow part of the act, which was a pity.
No doubt she'll get it right in other centres. I'd recommend this circus greatly.
The photo at the top is of last year's group; only some of them are in the current tour.