Elaine Pritchard's glowing review of Mimbre: The Exploded Circus!
“Did you do this?” asks a woman in a short, velvet costume that hints at faded Edwardian theatrical grandeur. Her voice is quiet but stern.
She’s pointing at a chaotic scene of chairs, props, fabric, suitcases and parts of wooden buildings suspended in mid-air. It looks as if everything has been frozen in the split second after an explosion hit a circus big top.
The other circus performers on the stage shake their heads firmly.
This is The Exploded Circus by female-led acrobatic theatre company Mimbre - a performance of very few words but non-stop action, comedy, circus tricks and gymnastics galore. It’s a hugely entertaining delight for all ages and it pitches up at Burton Town Hall for three 7.30pm shows on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday November 28, 29 and 30 plus a 1.30pm matinee on the Friday.
From the first moment that we meet them, the six circus performers establish their unique personalities. They are as far removed as you can imagine from the rather robotic circus acrobats, with matching smiles a mile wide, that you may have seen in traditional circuses.
One member of the team is discovered having tried to blow herself out of a cannon. It takes a fair amount of work to get her arm and clenched fist down from the vertical salute of a flying superhero. She continues to shout ‘bang’ whenever she gets excited as the six performers showcase their talents and bring a new normal out of the chaos they have found.
These are strong, talented individuals. At first acquaintance there’s a gentle one, an icy one, a clumsy one, a tough one, a silly one and a slightly scary one. But we soon see other sides to them as they launch in to a series of impressive solo and team performances of juggling, aerial work, tightrope walking and much more. There’s never a moment of stillness and always something to amaze and amuse you as they blend physical clowning and comedy with dramatic, beautifully choreographed acrobatic scenes – many performed at a daring height above the stage.
Slowly we see their characters develop respect and affection for each other culminating in a final, dazzlingly-creative airborne scene demonstrating that they have supported each other to become a team of positive role models ready for new adventures.
I saw The Exploded Circus at a ‘relaxed’ matinee performance in Coventry with a huge number of children, including many toddlers, who were surprisingly still and quiet as the adventurous show held their attention. At 70 minutes it’s just the right length for younger children but with plenty to impress and entertain teenagers and adults too. If you want to look at it from a different perspective, you might muse about what the show says about coping with dramatic change, coming together in the face of adversity and creating something new; or you can just enjoy the spectacle and the fun.
My favourite moment – among many – was a furiously-fast balancing routine on a moving bicycle, performed by Alice Allart, and ultimately involving her five fellow performers too.
The good news is that East Staffordshire Borough Council has worked with Mimbre to offer fantastic value for Burton audiences. For the Wednesday night show you are invited to pay what you wish. On Thursday and Friday tickets are £10 and just £5 for the Friday matinee.
Book online at http://www.brewhouse.co.uk/events/mimbre-exploded-circus or ring 01283-508100 for more information.
The Exploded Circus performers are: Alice Allart, Coral Dawson, Ruby Gaskell, Arielle Lauzon, Jackie Le and Lynn Scott. Find out more at http://theexplodedcircus.co.uk
by Elaine Pritchard