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  • Writer's pictureFrances

Circus 1903 Review | The Lowry | Manchester

Sporting the Elastic Dislocationist, gloriously detailed puppets and an artful ringmaster, Circus 1903 offers audiences a rare chance to see the greatest show on earth, brought back with a daringly imaginative blend of magic and mayhem.

With fellow Brit, Philip Astley credited as the father of the modern circus; last year marked the 250th anniversary of the big top’s tricks rolling back into town. Here the worldwide phenomenon is hitting the Lowry theatre with performers from all corners of the globe promising to take audiences to the highest of heights with aerial acrobatics, daredevil stunts and animal taming artistry. Representing the golden age of the circus, the traditional set of trapeze acts, jugglers, magicians and unicyclists all lend a hand in this slick and spectacular production.

This variety show works hard to shape a world around their travelling community, with the art forms diverse performers bringing a fantastic, character-driven show. The thrilling collection of jaw-dropping stunts is headed by Ringmaster David Williamson, offering a phenomenal night at the circus alongside his engaging commentary. Keeping audiences entertained with boastful banter and bringing audience members up for a little participation and closeup tricks, Williamson carries the shows traditional aesthetic. Assisting in capturing the shows rich, old-world charm before the sweepingly dramatic moments rampage the stage, the show balances its deadly performances in between personal flourishes.

Alongside performances from the Flying Fredonis’, whose deadly aerial artistry comes with body hurling movements at dizzying heights, and the Remarkable Risleys using each other as springboards for somersaults, the impressive collage of performances ensures the circus will never go out of fashion. One of the show’s most remarkable feats is its ability to bringing the circus’s cruel animal practices up to date with artistic flair with the unexpected beauty of the shows mother and child elephants, Queenie and Peanut. Rounding out the human artistry of Circus 1903’s set and ensures the circus continues to hold its place in contemporary theatre are the shows life-size, puppeteer controlled African elephants. The interplay between the puppeteers, the acts and audience bring the biggest laugh out loud moments to the Lowry theatre. Using the acclaimed creators behind War Horse, Queenie and Peanut are brought to life as the final stamp of dramatic flair for Circus 1903.

Circus 1903 gives audiences a backstage pass to the circus by allowing us to watch the elephants interact with the acts during their downtime. It is an unforgettable production that inundates its audience in a fantastically revamped tradition, offering an astonishingly display of talent, glamour and pure entertainment to the audiences of the Lowry theatre.

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