Review: My First Circus at The Garage

My First Circus: The Circus Child at The Garage in Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

My First Circus: The Circus Child at The Garage in Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Once upon a time, The Garage collaborated with All-In Productions to bring us My First Panto - a genius idea in which the pantomime experience has been redesigned for the under fives.

My First Circus: The Circus Child at The Garage in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

My First Circus: The Circus Child at The Garage in Norwich. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The resulting chaos, as children romp onto stage, is a joy to behold.

Now, another company joins the mix.

Norwich based Lost In Translation helps the original team create a new first - this time, of the circus kind.

As is usual for this delightful format, the space is turned over to the children before the show begins.

My First Circus: The Circus Child at The Garage in Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

My First Circus: The Circus Child at The Garage in Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The young audience is invited to explore everything, and even to draw on parts of the set. Clare Carter and Al Mansfield have designed a big top, draped in red and white and scattered with comfy cushions.

With its dangers and daring feats, circus does represent some impediments to full-scale audience immersion. The programme tells us that the circle drawn in the middle of the stage is there to keep the audience out of harm's way. Once the performers are in the magic O, there is no enthusiastic toddling about.

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Obviously, participation is therefore more limited than at Christmas. And when there is the chance to join in, everyone gets stuck in. A special dance, a short workshop in circus skills, a dressing-up session - all seem over far too soon.

But there is no fretting or fidgeting as the story unfolds.

My First Circus: The Circus Child at The Garage in Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

My First Circus: The Circus Child at The Garage in Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Daniel Burgess, who directs and writes, has created a nostalgic and funny piece, that introduces the young audience to the world of circus in a magical way.

As the play begins, it introduces a brother and sister reminiscing about what it was like to grow up back-stage.

They travel back in time as each recalls their early encounters with lions and clowns.

A routine with a suitcase had my son in stitches. But the most spectacular moment is a big reveal to their mother as an aerialist, with stars twinkling behind her.

My First Circus: The Circus Child at The Garage in Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

My First Circus: The Circus Child at The Garage in Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

An inspiring event, that captures the imagination as much as it informs.

• My First Circus: The Circus Child is at The Garage, in Norwich, until Sunday.

Tickets cost £12.50 for adults and £7.50 for children. Free entry for under ones. To book tickets, visit www.thegarage.org.uk or call 01603 598646.

My First Circus: The Circus Child at The Garage in Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

My First Circus: The Circus Child at The Garage in Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

My First Circus: The Circus Child at The Garage in Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

My First Circus: The Circus Child at The Garage in Norwich.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

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