STEPHEN PULLINGER Yarmouth Hippodrome
This summer's Yarmouth Hippodrome circus was billed as the best and most lavish yet.
And in an unguarded radio moment circus owner Peter Jay said he would consider retiring if it did not prove a smash hit.
Judging by the reaction of the packed audience at Saturday's gala night show, the resort's show business legend should still be around in years to come.
A breathtaking and colourful injection of Chinese circus magic lifts this fast-moving show to unparalleled levels.
The Dezou troupe's unbelievable acrobatic routines are well worth their long trek from Shandong in central China, and the colour and grace of Chinese circus art is shown in a delightful routine employing spectacular dragon costumes.
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The newly-formed Bulldancers Trapeze artists have brought a rig with them from the US, which has been specially designed for the historic but cramped building.
And the way they use every inch of space in an original routine involving not one but two catchers makes it simply the best trapeze act I have seen at the Hippodrome.
The variety packed into a show that lasts more than two hours ranges from traditional magic to agile and graceful aerial acts.
Everything is beautifully knitted together by father and son comedy duo Clive Webb and Danny Adams, the latter noticeably reducing some to tears of laughter with his irrepressible and infectious sense of humour a la Bobby Ball.
The other elements are what one has come to expect of a Peter Jay circus, colourful and skilfully-choreographed dance routines, a dramatic use of music and lighting, and the second-half use of the Hippodrome's water feature - one of only three left in the world - which transforms the ring into a giant swimming pool.
Everyone who has been to a Hippodrome circus will recognise the moment when thousands of ping-pong balls pour out to cover the water before synchronised swimmers suddenly appear from underneath - no longer surprising but still hypnotically fascinating.
Even on a stuffy, hot evening, it was noticeable that the eyes of young and old alike stayed glued to the arena right up to the finale. Verdict: a sure summer hit and not to be missed before it ends on September 10.