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IAN COLLINS Hippodrome Circus, Yarmouth (Norfolk and Norwich Festival)

IAN COLLINS

Hippodrome Circus, Yarmouth (Norfolk and Norwich Festival)

One charming night gives more delight than a hundred lovely days, as Purcell put it.

And how true for this fantastic production of The Fairy Queen as the composer could never have imagined it.

A song sequence based on the scenes and characters of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream was here turned by director Thomas Guthrie into a madhouse escapade as the Victorian painter Richard Dadd might have known in Bedlam after killing his father.

But for all the brilliance of the Orchestra of the Baroque, the bravado of the acrobats, the dazzle of the dancers and the bravura performances of the singer-actors, this show was nearly upstaged by its venue.

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Yarmouth Hippodrome, a purpose-built Edwardian Big Top amazingly unchanged in 103 years, is a terrific treasure. It turned The Fairy Queen into a sensational circus.

The madcap comedy of Purcell's opera was surely never better rendered than in the seduction scene between two lunatics, counter-tenor Timothy Travers Brown and tenor Mark Wilde. It looked for all the world as if Ralph Fiennes was romancing Julie Burchill.Bravo Jonathan Holloway for bringing our festival to parts of the county previously unreached. Just behind Yarmouth's Golden Mile (Gaudy Mire), Purcell at the Hippodrome gave us a night of the rarest charm.

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