Dance, physical theatre & circus review: Circus-Cision, Underbelly's Circus Hub on the Meadows

A hundred years ago, this would have been common theatre fare. But the variety show is a rare beast these days, so hurrah for Head First Acrobats for bringing it back.
Circus-Cision. Picture: ContributedCircus-Cision. Picture: Contributed
Circus-Cision. Picture: Contributed

Circus-Cision, Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows (Venue 360) ****

Circus shows are now ubiquitous on the Fringe, with everyone searching for a unique hook to hang their talent on. No such problem here, because nothing links these performers other than their ability to please a crowd.

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Our amiable host, Cal Harris, gets the late-night audience warmed up with a handful of bad-yet-funny jokes, then it’s on with the acts – in his words, “those that made the cut”. Astute programming means grace interspersed with raucousness that’s pitch-perfect whether you’re looking for genuine talent or just a great night out with your pals.

Chelsea Angell provides the first moment of beauty with her gorgeous hula-hoop act. No matter what body part she’s looping them round, the hoops dazzle at speed. Garry Starr follows, touting a very different flavour of entertainment. With the grandiose claim he’s here “to save theatre”, he tackles a few genres: physical theatre, Shakespeare, romantic comedy, each more ludicrous than the last.

Christopher Thomas of Barely Methodical Troupe has just minutes to convince us of his prowess on the Cyr wheel, and makes every second count. That such a heavy implement looks feather-light in his hands is testament to his considerable skill.

Then it’s back to chaos unimaginable with the inimitable Mr Fish, whose hilarious routine involving a tall unicycle, water, juggling knives and lots of audience interaction is a joy to behold.

Kali Retallack’s sumptuous aerial work has the crowd in raptures, before Harris himself closes the show with a witty Game of Thrones-inspired two-hander acrobatic routine. And a great night was had by all.

• Until 25 August, 10pm