Bigtop, The Lowry Plaza, Salford Quays, Manchester.
Thursday 30th August until Saturday 1st September 2018.
Reviewed by Julie Noller
Circa Tsuica the extremely talented group of circus artistes from France this week arrived with their Bigtop and travelling homes in Salford Quays, we watched earlier in the week as work was in full force moulding the plaza to resemble any circus you may see appearing on your local village green.
The Bigtop is indeed a smaller compact version of any you may be used to seeing but it packs a big punch. Now or Never is not a circus routine you may be used to, there are no brightly dressed clowns with big shoes and water squirting flowers; the performers are all dressed in what appears to be their normal clothes. We queued around the tent and upon entering it felt like we were being welcomed into their home, greeted in typically French fashion with a kiss on each cheek, given a cup for one of the many drinks on offer, crepes cooking away, fruit and chocolate dips, biscuits. Musicians and performers all mingled throughout the tent to the point you lose track of who is who. My senses were all on overload, tasting and touching delicious dips and drink, smelling the chocolate made my mouth water, sights of musicians and lights with my head in all of a spin, hearing all the children squealing in delight, the sounds of jazz it all made me relax and look forward to the show ahead.
Then the show began and wow it’s simply amazing, how all those performers can ride one bike together whilst balancing and all the time playing their brass instruments has absolutely dumbfounded me. It’s fast paced the skill and energy employed by all is stunning, there’s audience participation as my husband found out much to my delight. The children in the audience loved the fact that they didn’t have to stay in their seats, they could move it wasn’t frowned upon, they could help too and seeing two beaming children helping to brush up increases the love in the Big Top.
Speaking of love right at the end we were given a little speech, encouraging us to leave our TV’s turned off and just interact more with each other. It’s a gentle reminder of how we don’t simply stop and notice people anymore. I have to say the performers are all a dab hand at noticing the audience members every person selected was happy to be involved, you sense their eyes darting over everyone being aware of us all. There may just need to be a small warning to those who may need to be aware the show took me back years and I wondered if it was reminiscent of music halls of old where risky acts took to the stage. It’s all an act but I watched a couple of mothers cover their childrens eyes and I would say most youngsters wouldn’t have even twigged at the sexual references.
The only performers here are human and super humans too at that, each and every move you just know has been practised to perfection. And should that perfection break down – there’s such a tight knit bond between performers you could be mistaken for thinking it’s all part of the act; and it could be. They start again and make sure they get it right. Now or Never is as I’ve said a fast paced acrobatic show, with bicycles exploding and being used as musical instruments, many times the audience are called upon to participate the biggest being in a wedding scenario between two male members of the audience and lots of children celebrating that fact it all verges on the bizarre.
There’s trapeze and high wires with the wow factor. The big finale we were encouraged to leave our seats and sit on blankets bringing us closer to the action, making you feel involved and at the same time vulnerable. This finale involves a seesaw, big mattress marked with a huge white X and people jumping from heights. There’s twists and back-flips that I can only dream of achieving and I take my hat off to all these superbly talented and highly skilled performers.
To close the show the food and wine appears yet again and we are encouraged to mix together with the performers before we head on our way home. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to watch a truly spectacular performance and sampled the warmest of French welcomes and culture.
It’s FUN from start to finish and educational too although shhhh don’t let your children know they may be learning socially.