Super Sunday will bring circus thrills to Norwich Theatre Royal
- Credit: Petter Hellman
A derelict funfair is the setting for a high octane feast of acrobatic stunts and contemporary circus routines coming to Norwich Theatre Royal. John Bultitude finds out more about the show Super Sunday.
They may come on stage looking like a bunch of laid-back surfers with their main priority to relax and take to the waves.
But that chilled outlook is swiftly replaced by a host of death-defying stunts and routines guaranteed to quicken the heartbeats of audiences.
That is the premise of Super Sunday, an exciting new show which kicks off the 2017 programme of Norfolk & Norwich Festival shows at Norwich Theatre Royal.
It will see a group of fearless European acrobats perform some stunning acrobatic feats including synchronised trampolining, death-defying human catapulting, giant seesaws and a wheel of death.
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And the stunning routines fit into the show's story about the life of a circus troupe.
Arriving with a caravan of hobby horses, two acrobats will transform an empty stage into the circus. You will see a monkey playing guitar, sword swallowing, bubble blowing and break dancing all set to a soundtrack of Eighties electronica, banging buckets, a guitar and a baritone ukulele.
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It is the brainchild of the Finnish-based Race Horse Company which is a contemporary circus company. So, is the ethos of Super Sunday a case of life imitating art?
Co-founder Rauli Kosonen said: 'We had done a few shows together, some of which were quite dark. We wanted to make something a bit lighter, brighter and play with the energy on stage a bit more. We also wanted to create a much bigger production than we had done before.'
The fairground theme first came into sharp focus as Rauli and his fellow creatives decided they wanted to use a big wheel as a basis for the piece. He was also visiting a friend and saw people riding a broken-down and battered carousel too fast which also acted as inspiration for the piece which became Super Sunday.
One of the showpiece moments features the huge structure, the Wheel of Death. It boasts a wheel at the base, topped by a central pillar and a second wheel above it.
It looks scary from the audience so how tricky is it to conquer your fears as a performer? Rauli said: 'The first time you go on it, especially if you have not done it for a while, it can feel a bit weird. Once you have got used to it, it is a bit like riding a bicycle. Once you get over the fear, you can just enjoy it. Of course, if something goes wrong, you can get seriously injured. It is incredible fun although the first time we went on it, we were scared. I think that is all part of circus though with that sense of seeing what happens.'
The death-defying feats continue with the catapult or Trebuchet. Rauli said: 'I have a friend called Audilon who wanted to make himself a catapult. He wanted to fly himself from a slingshot so we have built that into the show.'
And this need for speed coupled with the adrenalin rush of excitement has formed a key part of Rauli's life. It all began from a very early age when he and his brother took up trampolining as part of gymnastics training. He recalled: 'I found I liked the freedom of it. Gymnastics is quite restricted in the way you move. You can use those technical skills that you learn but, with circus, I could move around in any way I want without people saying 'this is wrong.''
The move sideways into the circus world came about by accident. Rauli said: 'I was asked if I could perform a piece in the Finnish Circus Festival. I was only 15 years old. I thought I would just have a small part in it but then realised I was going to be in the opening piece and there were going to be 400 people in the audience. From the very beginning, I was performing in front of lots of people.'
From there, the circus addiction began and Race Horse Company was formed. One of the key things that has helped them creatively is their strong professional and personal bond. Rauli said: 'We are all friends in the company. That is how the collective works. We all work well together because we are all friends with each other. In that sense, I suppose we are a like a new generation circus family.'
And one of his other drives to create is the fact there is no restriction on the interpretation of his pieces. Much as he moved away from the conventions of gymnastics, he likes the fact that his finished circus pieces can mean different things to different people and you do not have to interpret them in a certain way.
Rauli said: 'I like the fact that you can get what you want from it. It is not that you have to see what we do in a certain way.
'The show does not have a message. That is not our intention. People also don't know whether particular parts of it are serious or not. It depends on the humour.'
But whatever you take from it, the Race Horse team are excited to return to Norwich fresh from a previous festival visit - they performed the show White Nights in the Adnams Spiegeltent at last year's festival.
'It is always nice to come back to the same place as I think you get so much more out of it. It is a nice city too,' said Rauli.
So get ready for some death-defying feats and a stunning story featuring some truly talented performers and a new generation of some hugely exciting circus set-pieces.
Super Sunday is at Norwich Theatre Royal on Monday and Tuesday next week. Tickets £7-£24. To book, visit www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call 01603 630000.