Giffords Circus The Hooley Review

Chiswick House and Gardens, London – until 11 July 2021

Reviewed by Heather Chalkley


Since the year 2000 when Nell realised her ambitious to create a village green circus, Gifford’s have never disappointed. The combination of art, jeopardy and humour creates a traditional small circus vibe, with an added delightful and different storytelling twist each season. The Hooley was dreamt up by Director Cal McCrystal and produced by Nell’s niece, Lil Rice. A magical fairyland seems fitting for the first year without the founder Nell and also their 21st anniversary.

Those familiar with Gifford’s will be pleased to know some of the firm favourites continue to entertain, with Tweedy bringing new comic routines as a leprechaun – it suits him! Nancy Trotter Landry makes a comical fairy for him to team up with. As well as producing the show Lil lends her beautiful voice to some Irish ballads and raucous ceilidh, foot tappers. The New Revolution Troupe provide ample jeopardy, despite their pixie suits! By far my favourite act of the night is Jonny Grundy and Manuel Artino on the ariel hoop. Their dance training shines through in the grace and beauty of their movements, as they position themselves into impossible, strength-based frames. The audience is almost silent throughout and then erupts into a foot stamping, roar of applause.

Gifford’s artistic team and front of house, create the sensation of walking onto a village green, with beautiful wooden food wagons and plenty of hospitality. Whatever your age, you will be captivated by the other worldly feel of The Hooley. I am sure Nell Gifford is looking on, proud of the heritage she has established.