REVIEW: “The circus is magical: it transports you away to a sparkling world of wonderment’

Antonio Candela's fire act (C) David Street

Antonio Candela's fire act (C) David Street - Credit: David Street

Review: The Great Yarmouth Hippodrome Circus is back with a dazzling Summer Spectacular Show and it’s a guaranteed mood lifter

Lucy Ladbrooke Cloud Swing (C) David Street

Lucy Ladbrooke Cloud Swing (C) David Street - Credit: David Street

The show will go on!

Having been given the green light to open for business at the 11th hour, the Hippodrome Circus in Great Yarmouth has put together a show guaranteed to bring a smile to everyone’s faces after what has been an exceptionally difficult year.

Just two weeks ago, Jack Jay, ringmaster and producer, received the news that the show couldn’t go ahead as planned on August 1 just 20 minutes before the final dress rehearsal.

The show, which was due to be staged 13 times a week, was mothballed, the performers paid from the Jay family’s pocket and the circus was plunged into uncertainty.

Svilen and Mario on the Wheel of Death (C) David Street

Svilen and Mario on the Wheel of Death (C) David Street - Credit: David Street

Fast forward to Thursday August 13 and the government announcement had yet to be made: when the cast performed the Summer Spectacular dress rehearsal in front of a handful of reviewers, no one knew if it would be ever be staged again.

But to watch the performers, you wouldn’t have known – consummate professionals and entertainers, they put on a show filled with thrills, laughter, jaw-dropping moments and joy brought together by Jack, Christine, Peter and Ben Jay and the Hippodrome team.

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And that’s why the circus is so magical: it transports you away from reality and to a sparkling world of sheer wonderment, and how we need that right now!

But first the service announcement: the venue’s usual capacity of up to 900 has been reduced to around 300 with social distancing blocking off entire rows of seats. There is no interval to prevent gathering in the foyer. There are Perspex screens and masks. You feel safe as soon as you’re inside the building.

Alexis Levillon's diablo act (C) David Street

Alexis Levillon's diablo act (C) David Street - Credit: David Street

The show, however, is as dazzling as ever – more so, perhaps, because we’ve been reminded what a privilege it is to be at an indoor venue, and what an indoor venue this Art Deco purpose-built circus is.

Jack and co-host Johnny Mac are reunited in a comedy partnership which works perfectly and sees them both poking gentle fun at the new normal, Zoom conference calls and social distancing alike: they are as much a part of summer for my family as ice cream and sandy toes.

The first act is Pavel Valla from Spain with Karin Jarz from Italy, the former on an ever-growing unicycle on which he towers as if riding a crane on wheels.

He jumps up stairs, somersaults and rides around with Karin balanced on a wheel without a care in the world, all the time the bikes getting taller and taller.

Diablo master Alexis Levillion takes the art to a jaw-dropping new level as he takes a circus art to the very limits of what is possible – they’re not called Devil sticks without reason, I’m sure witchcraft was involved. His style, creativity and skill is off the scale.

There are beautiful, graceful aerial acts from the UK’s Lucia Ladbrooke on the cloud swing and Canada’s Eric McGill on the trapeze and thrills and spills from Mario Mietitore and Svilen Marinov on the infamous Wheel of Death.

(Just how do you take that final step from thinking about skipping blindfolded on top of a spinning wheel high in the sky to actually doing it? These things keep me up at night.)

Antonio Candela has a spectacular fire act that includes some beautiful pyrotechnics and in between it all there are turns from Jack and Johnny and the fabulous Estelle Clifton dancers and swimmers who blend the show together along with incredible light and sound effects.

It’s a treat and never more so than now. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, prepare for the greatest escape act of all – going to the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome Circus where you can leave grey real life on the pavement outside and lose yourself in a world of colour.

* To book tickets and for more information, visit or call 01493 738877.

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