Giffords Circus – Les Enfants du Paradis Review

Chiswick House and Gardens – until 19 June 2023

Reviewed by Heather Chalkley


From the colourful programme to the well-crafted scenery and opulent costumes, Nell Gifford’s legacy lives on. Nell created an award winning village green circus that has become a family to all involved. You get a sense of this as soon as you arrive at the circle of circus wagons, in the Gifford livery.

The title theme ‘children of the gods’ links to the sometimes ethereal and seemingly super-human qualities of circus performers. You walk into the big top to find a cleverly crafted 1830’s derelict theatre that holds memories of its past performers. The house band create the atmosphere for every performer, whether that be funny, full of jeopardy or love, they are part of the performance.

Every act has its own special place in the hearts of the audience, who roar their appreciation throughout. The combination of Gifford’s old friend Tweedy the Clown (BEM), the beautiful ponies, the artistry of the juggler, jeopardy of trapeze and skywalks and high energy of the acrobatic troupe and skaters, sets the scene for the magic created by the ariel hoop. The breath taking final act that brings the story together is delivered by Antony Cesar, a fifth generation circus performer that combines the beauty of dance with the gymnastics of ariel straps, in his own unique style. Sublime!

This is my 6th year in the audience of Gifford’s Circus. Amongst us are stars of TV and music, all regulars. Director Cal McCrystal and his team, his circus family, deliver a show to remember.