28 March to 5 April 2016
Reviewed by Siobhan Bridgwater
The big top is a familiar sight on the Heath. I grew up close by and, for as long as I can remember, the Circus has come to town every Easter Bank Holiday weekend and, for the last 25 years, I am reliably informed, the circus has been Zippos. Amazingly, this is my first visit in many a year. I went along with my 11 year son and my parents, both in their eighties.
The Big Top is a magnificent structure: large, colourful and steadfast despite last night’s considerable storm, standing proud in the middle of the flat Heath in plain sight to all passing traffic approaching or leaving Blackheath from every direction.
We parked on site where there is a considerable amount of designated parking slots available just by the Circus entrance. There are also numerous spaces in and around the nearby Blackheath Village for the more mobile.
The tent interior is the temporary home for a large, traditional circus ring surrounded by banks of raised sitting. The show was very well attended with an audience of all ages. The staff greeted us warmly on arrival and we immediately felt the anticipation of a great show.
And we were certainly in for a treat. Popcorn and flashing, whirling torches in hand the most wonderful show began. It had all the ingredients one could hope to expect from long-forgotten, early childhood memories.
The Ring Master, Norman Barrett MBE, oozed confidence and experience and he seamlessly introduced us to a variety of acts including his own performing budgies which was so funny. Mr Lorenz, the comedian held the audience in his palm with his beautifully timed magic, bell ringing and juggling displays and his regular appearances really helped to hold the show together and kept us laughing. There was knife throwing and clowning, a bendy contortionist, who was far more graceful than shocking, performances on horseback and an incredibly, obedient group of pussy cats. We all had our favourites. Mum loved the super-talented foot juggler, Romy Michael, who stole the show for her whilst Dad was enthralled with the most jaw dropping, Duo Galaxy, and their Wheel of Death, which had danger, balance, strength and originality all mixed up into one superior display. We all loved Mr N and his adorable Jack Russell, Speedy, who made us laugh just by running around the ring edge with his little legs and a wonderfully amusing, slapstick act. The Timbuktu Tumblers added a modern twist to a well-known performance with their unique, street approach to pole acrobatics and somersaulting and came out on top with my boy. And for me, well hands down, it has to be Alex the Fireman who performed most of his act off a suspended, rotated ladder, accompanied by fire and water, and the unbelievably fearless, Alex Michael, the aerial daredevil. I love high wire displays but I have never seen anything like this. He is incredible. It has to be seen to be believed.
It was great to see performing animals back at the Circus even if it was of the smaller, domesticated kind. The Borissov Family with their Equestrian Acts thoroughly satisfied our appetite for the majestic with their beautiful, enormous beasts and their hypnotic horseback feats.
All in all, we all enjoyed the show from start to finish and left amidst an audible buzz from a thoroughly entertained and excitable audience who even got the opportunity to shake hands with Martin Burton himself, the Founder and Owner of the circus, as we exited. Zippos, most definitely, Has Talent. If you like watching Simon Cowell’s numerous audition shows on the telly, go to the Circus. It is the same, just so much bigger and better.
Tickets cost from £7.50 to £26.
Zippos Circus presents ‘Celebration’ is in Blackheath until 5 April 2016. For more information or to book tickets visit www.zippos.co.uk.
Zippos Circus Bleackheath, Shooters Hill Road, Lewisham, London, SE3 0UA