Review: Netherlands National Circus, Leith Links

Roll up, roll up! The Netherlands National Circus is in town, with an international cast of dynamic, talented performers eager to dazzle us with their gravity-defying antics. *****

It is around 30 years since my last visit to a circus, but as soon as we enter the Big Top the distinctive sights and smells bring the memories flooding back.

Thankfully, this is a strictly animal-free circus – unless you count the amusingly lacklustre Mickey Mouse photo opportunity before the show – so there is no need for any animal welfare concerns.

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There is also no ringmaster, but elsewhere all the elements of traditional circus remain firmly in place.

There is a brief parade from all of the acts to give the audience a glimpse of what is in store, before the elegant Miss Caroline climbs to the swinging trapeze to show us her impressive repertoire of twists and twirls.

The Netherlands National Circus has resisted the temptation to add any narrative or theme to link the acts together in the style made popular by Cirque du Soleil. Instead, the focus here is on variety, with gaps between the diverse acts filled by the antics of Angelo the Clown.

Angelo is a clown very much in the Chaplin tradition and is a master of playing the audience. He adds much of the charm to the evening and skilfully treads the fine line between entertaining the children and not irritating the adults.

There were too many highlights to mention them all, but the gymnastic skill and daring of the Romanian springboard acrobats was outstanding, and the graceful, flexible hand-balancer Desireé proved to be a favourite with the audience, particularly the dads.

No circus would be complete without the outrageous feat of timing and bravery that is the flying trapeze act, performed with great panache here by Australian troupe The Flying Aces.

I was accompanied by my six-year-old daughter, Rachel, who sat transfixed throughout the whole two hours, only springing into action occasionally to gasp “Wow!” as the next amazing stunt took place.

Ultimately, this is a magnificent example of wholesome family entertainment with something spectacular for all ages to enjoy.

Run ends July 1.