Billy Smart’s Circus at The Royal Norfolk Showground, Costessey, Norwich 10-15 June 2014. Review and photos
I probably haven’t been to a traditional circus since I was about ten years old and I actually found myself really looking forward to this with some sense of excitement entering the big top at the Royal Norfolk Showground for the first show of this visit to Norwich by Billy Smart’s Circus.
The foyer area has some traditional candy floss and a food stall, and wonderfully turned out ushers at the welcome sign at the tunnel to the big top ring arena. Everything felt very traditional and I felt rather nostalgic and had a similar excitement that I had as a child. The modern era circus thankfully has no animals (which is probably why I stopped going years ago) but puts on a tremendous show with tricks, a clown, trapeze and acrobats, some incredible skills involving fire and all sorts … the entire experience greatly enhanced by the inclusion of an excellent, tight live orchestra band playing throughout.
At the start of the performance there was a short and informative presentation with projections of old photographs on the history of Billy Smart’s Circus, whilst Jonny the clown sits cross-legged in the ring looking through a photo album. He’s not a creepy made-up clown though, more jester-like.
Today the circus is hosted and compered by Yasmine Smart, grand-daughter of Billy. The performance lasts about 2 hours in all, with an interval of 15-20 minutes or so midway through. The whole operation is incredibly well drilled and tight, from the artists’ routines to the rapid and efficient prop changes between acts. I enjoyed the show enormously, with my own highlights being the incredibly beautiful aerial cube routine by Alina Eskina, Indian Spirit on stunning bolas, and Germaine Delbosq’s juggling routine on a Harley Davidson but it probably isn’t fair to pick anyone out as I was enthralled throughout and loved every minute. I doubt there were many children there who could have enjoyed it more than my own adult group of friends. A lovely way to spend an afternoon.
The Circus is at The Royal Norfolk Showground on the outskirts of Costessey on the the A47 near Norwich. Tickets can be bought from the box office on site or through the website (online discounts available) as well as the Norwich Tourist Information Centre in The Forum. It runs from 10th-15th June, weekday performances at 16:45 and 19:30 and Saturday 14:00, 16:45, 19:30 – Sunday 12:30, 15:30
Ringside or Circles seats are available, the big top is indeed large and spacious, nicely cool on a very hot sunny day and the visibility is excellent. Give it a look, I bet you’ll love it. My friends and I have been dreaming of running away to join a circus ever since! 🙂
The FLYING ACES, five exciting youngsters on the flying trapeze swing and somersault their way through the air
The X-TREME BROTHERS, a trio of handsome and talented acrobats from Romania utilise immense strength and power to achieve amazing feats of balance
ALINA ESKINA brings her beautifully choreographed unique ‘cube’ routine
GERMAINE DELBOSQ from France shows off her foot-juggling skills with a modern slant on the back of a motorbike!
The ASADULLIN TROUPE from Russia use a specially constructed seesaw to propel one another high into the air
CAROLINE, a high-flying solo trapeze star, swings, plunges and twists with elegance high above the circus ring
Italian clown JONNY BOGINO brings his whimsical comedy style to UK audiences for the first time
INDIAN SPIRIT, liven up the proceedings as a bolas is whirled to the rhythm and beat of the drums
A LIVE BAND, the only one in a British touring Circus, complements the action
more photos to follow …
Many thanks to Joanna Keen and Billy Smart’s Circus, Dan and Julia
words and photos (c) richard shashamane 2014