21 April 2014
Reviewed by Helen Dewdney
Well what a blast from the past! I haven’t been to a circus since a time I can’t remember. I have vague memories of seeing a man with a circus act who had budgies that eventually would do their tricks. Norman Barrett MBE. This means nothing to you unless you were a child growing up in the 1970s! If however you did grow up in the 70s he’s still doing the show! You’ll recognise the voice and he hasn’t changed a bit! Who needs BGT when Britain has Norman and his budgies? Delighting the adults possibly more than the children, I don’t know that we will ever see the like again!
Anyway, enough of nostalgia and remembering one of the men that was on the telly when we were growing up and was one of the good guys and onto a review!
My friend and 1 and 2 6 years olds drove to the circus. Firstly we found parking difficult we couldn’t see how to get there, massive area and cars parked all around but not sure how to get round to the car park. We ended up in the fairground car park and walked 5 or 10 minutes. I mentioned this to a member of staff and apparently animal rights people are known to taken down the parking signs. So allow for this.
Staff were all friendly and polite and the place clean especially given that it was the 3rdday there.
The circus started a little late and finished half an hour later than it was meant to do. But you don’t get the feeling that’s poor organisation it’s just laid back and we certainly didn’t mind, as it may have been to allow for the late arrivals given the Blackwall Tunnel problems and we arrived dead on the time it should have started.
The atmosphere inside the tent was happy and enjoyable. I couldn’t see anyone who wasn’t either smiling or concentrating enthralled on an act.
My 6 year old is quite sensitive, doesn’t really like going to the pictures, too loud and doesn’t like the scary bits! I was unsure of how he would be. I needn’t have been, he was gripped. The strong man was “awesome”. He was quite actually. I said to my friend “Won’t do the car business in here though will he?” Out came the car (large one!) which he proceeded to pull on a rope in his mouth, then it drove over him (apparently that was pretty “awesome” too) then lifted 5 people on a caber that had taken two big men to carry. These things are of course made all the better when you see them close up too.
Clowns seemed quite popular but of course many people don’t like them full stop. The slapstick in there was good and parts that made the boys say “How did they do that?!” There was a toddler sitting in front of me was falling about laughing and she was a delight to watch watching the clowns.
There was a man who did the single trapeze. I actually thought he was going to come off and I jumped at one point so he was good to watch! The horses were lovely but didn’t actually do much. I was expecting people to be doing acrobats on the horses like they used to but there was none of that.
A very flexible young lady put herself into a bottle which confused the boys nicely. Acrobats and trapeze artists doing the things you would expect and making you go “oooh” in all the right places!
There is a character that brings people in from the audience and has a fake gun and pretends to shoot people out of sight (although they come back in and are obviously okay) and also holds it to own head. I think they may need just to review this part. A joke punishment doesn’t have to be violent. My friend and I work in education and children’s services and so may be over sensitive about this issue but I don’t think guns have a place in the circus and some families may have difficulty with these scenes.
Don’t get restricted view seats, it’s not worth any saving.
Refreshments, flashing light sabers (which looked pretty good when the lights were off) souvenir brochures all as you would expect and it was a decent cup of tea I had from there too!
The big top is heated but I don’t know that it needed to be the day we went. Of course of paramount importance, the toilets! Obviously a queue when the show finished but only five minutes wait and they were clean. I’d take tissues though as the paper did run out.
My son wanted to come back for the evening performance which was high praise indeed. All in all a great family day out which was highly entertaining and engaging and certainly left the boys wanting more and me with a photo of a legend with his arm round me!
For more information, tour dates or to book tickets visit www.zipposcircus.co.uk.