Steve Sutherland reviews Giffords Circus, Daylesford Organic Farm, Saturday, 3rd June, and touring the south west, Cotswolds and Oxfordshire until 24th September. Visit www.giffordcircus.com or call 0845 4597469
YOU know summer’s finally come to the Cotswolds when you hear the first cuckoo down in the copse, the swallows arrive to scoot over the fields, and Gifford’s travelling Circus rolls around.
Now in its 17th year, Nell Gifford’s magical cabaret-cum-dressage-cum-mystery show is an annual Sutherland family tradition — our kids have grown up wide-eyed at its wonders and this Daylesford visit is our twelfth on the trot. They never disappoint, and they out-did themselves this year.
Entitled Any Port In A Storm and loosely themed and lavishly costumed around the Spanish court circa the Armada, Giffords’ 2017 tiny spectacular is full of old friends and fresh surprises. Ring-mastered by grumpy wee feller David Pillukat, who gets to soar above the gasping crowd dressed as a sardine and, at the clever parodic finale, wrestle with a blow-up doll, Any Port is, if anything and quite impossibly, funnier than anything the troupe have conjured up in quite a while.
Newbies the Brazilian Mustache Brothers are violent slapstick in excelsis, and, as always in the absence of any real plot, lord of the mayhem is Tweedy, the genius clown who gets to kick off his knickers, gnarble his knackers, wobble about with some knives, take Keith for a stroll and boast about his lolly. Truly folks, he’s the daftest man alive.
There are, of course, magnificent horses, a cute Shetland pony, some well bossy chickens, incredible performers from all over the globe, a band you’d have stayed on the Titanic to hear, some pop delivered as opera by Viktoria Murkinova, plus communal bopping in the sawdust at the end — it’s a proper raspberries-to-Brexit, multi-national reverie.
And seasoned in with the chuckles and knees-ups are some mighty fine thrills. Hunky contortionist, Sergii Poliakov, performs a mesmerising hip-hop ballet on top of suave bandleader James Keay’s harpsichord, there are marvellous rope tricks and some mind-boggling juggling, and, top of the heap, quite literally, are amazing addition the eight-strong human pyramid Sol Troupe from Cuba who do stuff with a swing and some skipping ropes which will make you clutch at your heart and disbelieve your own eyes.
Facebook entries lauding this year’s endeavour include such plaudits as ‘spellbinding’, ‘life-affirming’, and ‘an elixir to cure ails and woes’. Absolutely spot-on.
Do yourself a power of good. Go see!