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Eternal guilt: Dorian The Musical @SWKplay

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Dorian is a new musical that updates Oscar Wilde’s gothic novel from the uptight Victorian era to an undetermined period of gender fluidity and glam rock. On paper, musicalising the Picture of Dorian Gray to a period of glam rock, social media, and cheap shoes seems like a good idea. After all, Oscar Wilde’s gothic story is very adaptable. It has been the source of countless adaptations for the stage, television or movies. I was half expecting a trashy Dorian, similar to the early 1980s telemovie that shifted Dorian’s gender to a woman. This version falls into a so bad it’s good category with Anthony Perkins in a lead role, who as he ages under makeup starts to look like Andy Warhol.  And while it’s great to see a new show, a strong cast can’t compensate for such an earnest production with underpowered songs. There’s no sense of fun, and some curious staging and costume choices  -mismatched dresses, crocodile boots and furry suits - serve as a distraction. It’s currently playing at th

Dealing with it: Tarot @Feathers_circus @VaultFestival

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The circus is dealt another twist with live tarot readings in Tarot. It concludes its run at The Vaults tonight, but the concept is compelling enough that I suspect it won’t be the last time we’ll see this show from The Feathers of Daedalus in London. With a live band and energetic and up-close performances, it’s fascinating even if you’re not into the hocus pocus of reading someone’s fortune from a deck of cards. It’s held together by gender-fluid compère Ruby Wednesday. With deadpan detachment, we’re given an explanation about tarot readings. Members of the audience are also given a chance to have their cards read while the performers move about behind them. It’s educational for those who have no idea about the practice of tarot card readings. But it’s also a little bit unnerving. In the tight confines of the Forge space in the Vault, you could have a circus performer land on your lap. And there’s something slightly perverse yet curiously engaging about watching a total strange

Fluffing it: Rouge @Underbellyfest

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It's not enough for a circus act nowadays to offer a series of acrobatic feats. Nowadays, they are pushing all sorts of conventions. There's the all-male, the all-female, the all minimalist. Rouge is the all gender fluid pan-sexual circus for grown-ups who like a bit of everything. But only if that everything includes a little bit of nudity and a bit of mild titillation.  The men wear eyeliner, the pairings are male-female, male-male and female-female.   Strong female types abound throughout. It's a unique concept that's marred by its own timidity. It's currently playing at the Underbelly Festival on the Southbank . The performers are interesting enough. There's the aerial trapeze, the ring, and the strap. All are deftly executed. There's a terrific flame swallowing routine which seems all the more intense in the confines of the Spiegeltent. An inventive sequence happens where the performer is wearing a lampshade and combines hula hoops with

Flying and flexing: A Simple Space @UnderbellyFest

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Gravity and Other Myths return to the Underbelly Festival on the South Bank with their thrilling minimalist and physical show, A Simple Space. The piece strips back the art of circus performance until it’s just skin and muscle. Leaving you amazed by the feats of endurance, strength and precision. It’s been four years since Gravity and Other Myths had this show on the South Bank. And while the performers have changed, the sense of playful wonder remains. And it’s still exciting seeing performers skip rope, handstand and backflip to the point of exhaustion. This is not a show that makes circus art look easy. The show progresses through various feats of endurance including throwing, catching and falling. The opening scene features each performer shouting out they’re falling and wait for another performer to catch them. It’s an evocative opener and sets the tone for various set pieces that play on the theme of gravity-defying circus acts. Audience participation includes an en

Starmen: Briefs Close Encounters @LeicesterSqXmas

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Circus performers often seem out of this world. This Christmas The Briefs Factory , lands at the Leicester Square Spiegeltent. Briefs Factor is an all-male burlesque (or as they call it boylesque) group who use circus, drag and dance to show us a good time. The premise is they’re time-travelling aliens offering a message a hope and cheap thrills. And they don’t disappoint for a moment. With a pulsating soundtrack from music director Busty Beatz mixing disco, electronic and dance, this show never lets up. And when the entire cast come together this show is both breathtaking and breathless with it’s audacious spectacle and energy. It’s like watching a Vegas show up close. Holding the show together is host, emcee and artistic Fez Fa’anana. Even setting the ground rules for the night (no phones, no bad manners, no dramaturg) he’s hilarious. Then there are the performers. Mark “Captain Kidd” Winmill delivers both a beautiful aerial display and a slightly disturbing bearded lady drag act. T

Bend and snap: Circa’s Peep Show @UnderbellyFest #CircaPeepshow

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Watching from the sidelines of Cira’s Peep Show feels a little dangerous at times. Other acts might splash you or have their props fly in your face. But this act feels at times like the acrobats will land in your lap. Bodies assemble. Muscles tense. Veins start to throb. Then they fall, the bounce, they appear from out of the shadows. It’s fascinating and a little bit unnerving. Particularly if you’re sitting up close to the action as a body falls toward you. Although when they do they break into a roll. It’s currently playing at the Underbelly Festival on the South Bank. In a physical and breathtaking 70 minutes bodies are thrown about, bounce off each other and contort into positions that you don’t think could be possible. Or at least without hearing something go pop or snap.   Keeping in theme with Circa’s other minimalistic productions, here the focus is on the body as a performance machine with few props. The premise behind the show is less on sexual gratification and more on the

More towels please: Soap @UnderbellyFest

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Circus acts as part of the Underbelly Festival on the Southbank are always a highlight of the programme. Adding bathtubs, water and a hint of nudity is definitely a winning formula. And it makes for good clean fun (this show is aimed at all ages). Soap which originated in Germany has been touring around the world. But for the first time it’s in the round in the Spiegeltent. The effect pushes you right up close to the action. So close that you can see the muscles tense and flex on the performers. The cast run through a variety of bath-time themed circus feats. There’s Vanessa Alvarez as a foot juggler of bath towels and guitars. Anton Belyakov thrills with handstand on what appears to be a very slippery Villeroy and Boch bathtub. Lena Ries contorts within one. Adem Endris juggles on top of one. Daniel Stern rises above one on straps. And Moritz Haase wows with a thrilling Trapeze finale as water rains down from above. Marie-Andrée Lemaire is on hand for comic relief. And Jennifer Linds

Miss Atomic Bomb: The Bekkrell Effect @RoundhouseLDN #CircusFest

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French circus troupe Groupe Bekkrell bring their show to the Camden Roundhouse, The Bekkrell Effect. It’s part of CircusFest 2018, which is celebrating 250 years since the invention of the modern circus. Using the discovery of radioactivity by Henri Becquerel, it’s an explosion of movement, working together and apart. They’ve created a world where things decay and disintegrate, including the set... The strength of the piece comes from the unique staging. It starts off as a bare stage with a few things disassembled. There are cables, strings, ropes, boards. Performers Fanny Alvarez, Sarah Cosset, Océane Pelpel and Fanny Sintés undertake rope, Chinese mast, tightrope and tumbling. And they bring all the stage props toghether while performing. Either together or alone. Accompanied by a pulsating soundtrack or the performers own grunts, it’s both funny and fascinating. And they manage to produce some stunning scenes, including for the finale where everything seems to be teetering on the b

Flipping memories: Catch Me @FlipFabriQue @UnderbellyFest

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It's the start of summer. The weather's hot and the Underbelly Festival at the South Bank Centre is opening with its usual eclectic mix of circus acts, comedy and cabaret. And Flip FabriQue's Catch Me fits this bill well. There is beauty and fluidity in the performances. The premise is that ten years later a bunch of friends reunite for another weekend at a cottage together. They play. They have fun. And they do strange and unusual things with straps, trampolines and diablos.

Swinging and projecting: Soho @PeacockTheatre #sohotheshow

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A journey through London's soho with its street workers, artists, drag queens and everyday people is the theme of Soho. It is a  physical movement spectacular at the Peacock Theatre for a brief run. Acrobats, dance and projections combine with a throbbing soundtrack to make for a breathtaking evening. At times there is so much going on that it's hard to know where to look. But it's a slick piece of circus artisty and projections

Brief recollections: Throwback @jacksons_lane @SilverLiningCo_

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You leave Throwback by circus troupe Silver Lining thinking, hmm they're a frisky lot. Some circus acts want to show sexy. Others want to show brawn. These young men and women seem to just want to play... And show off a little... But that's ok. They do incredible acrobatic work - hanging, flying, spinning while also managing to sing, act and tell stories. 

The Human Pile: Closer by Circa @CircaPresents @UdderbellyFest

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Closer, by circus troupe Circa opens the London Wonderground on the South Bank with an intimate yet spectacular show about the power and strength of the human body.  There is beauty in this stripped back circus extravaganza of human acrobatics that flow seamlessly from one to another. A simple staging, with a few chairs and spotlights open up to an incredible array of performances. The effect is mesmerising as the performers make the impossible seem effortless.

The smell of the motorcycles, the gasps from the crowd: La Soiree @Southbankcentre @theatreblogs

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In it’s eleventh year of touring and sixth year in London, La Soiree still manages to thrill and excite like it has just burst onto the scene. It’s mix of old favourites and new acts still makes it the show to see over the next few months. Constantly changing, La Soiree keeps you second guessing what will come next. Whether it is Freddy Mercury obsessive in very tight jeans crowd surfing or a gorgeous acrobat dangling from the top smoking a cigar, this is a show that is determined to make sure you have a good time.

It's coming on Christmas previews: Theatrefullstop Presents... The Christmas Wishlist...

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Baubles up in shops, tinsel on sale in the supermarkets and dirty old men looking at little girls through telescopes, are tell tale signs it is coming on Christmas. Theatrefullstop have decided there’s no better way to celebrate than to head down to The Yard Sunday 13 December and treat yourself to a host of theatrical... Treats. Theatrefullstop Presents... The Christmas Wishlist sees eight acts perform a variety of circus, physical theatre, comedy and monologues. This year's acts include: spoken word artist and writer Ese Ighorae who will present an excerpt from her latest play Olu; Lulu, a circus sex tragedy told with knives; and emerging burlesque talent Cici Noir. Further information about all other unique and diverse artists appearing throughout this exciting evening can be found on their site ...

Heads up: previewing La Soireé @lasoireelive

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Returning for a sixth season in London, the little show with a big heart La Soirée is back at the Spiegeltent at the Southbank Centre . The show is currently in previews and I recently caught up with some of the performers during a lunchtime break.

Ambiguously Straight: Bromance @udderbellyfest @bmtroupe

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Flying by the seat of your pants takes on greater meaning with circus troupe Barely Methodical and their latest offering Bromance , which is at the Udderbelly Festival on the South Bank until 19 July. The three performers, Beren D’Amico, Louis Gift and Charlie Wheeller, fuse circus performance with their expertise in martial arts tricking, parkour and breakdancing; not to mention some hilarious comic interactions for a thrilling hour.

Straight up circus and jazz: Scotch and Soda @LdnWonderground

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Spade guitars, feats with champagne bottles you didn’t think were possible, dancing budgies and amazing acrobats. It’s all part of the mix with the latest offering from Company2 , Scotch and Soda, now playing at the London Wonderground on the SouthBank. The show is a mix of circus and jazz provided by The Crusty Suitcase Band , led by by Ben Walsh, who keeps things moving with an impressive collection of percussion devices instruments.

Flipping hell: A Simple Space @Udderbellyfest @GOM_Circus

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A Simple Space, by Australian-based circus troupe  Gravity and Other Myths , is the latest round of circus offering at the Udderbelly Festival  at the Southbank Centre . Between the amazing feats of acrobatics you can hear a constant sound. The sound of heavy breathing. It is coming from the stage. This is pretty intense stuff here and the energy and sweat from the performers is audible and palpable. And in the space of the giant purple cow, where you are up close to the performers, it seems much more intense and intimate.

Hard core high flying: La Soirée @southbankcentre

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It is only on until 11 January on the South Bank but La Soirée is a lot of fun. Thrilling acrobats, a bearded lady singing in deep bass and a middle-aged man in a big blue bunny suit are just some of the entertaining and slightly naughty acts on offer at the moment. Nothing beats the intimate setting of the Spiegeltent and being so up close to people flying over your heads or doing strange things to red handkerchiefs...

Surprise the (Piccadilly Circus) Circus is in Town

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Today the streets of central London have been taken over by a pop up circus called Piccadilly Circus Circus. From lunchtime today until the finale at 8pm more than 240 international circus artists including aerialists, high wire trapeze artists, hula hoopers, jugglers, stilt acrobats, not so stilted acrobats, tightrope walkers, looserope walkers, acrobats, Chinese pole artists, Polish Chinese artists, aerial dance performers, contemporary clowns, musicians and the like will be around to distract shoppers and force you whip out your camera-phone and experience it all... I caught the opera singers and drummers earlier today but events continue throughout the afternoon. The finale at Piccadilly Circus will be where French artists’ Les Studios de Cirque presents the UK premiere of Place des Anges. The piece is about a renegade group of angels who are drawn down to the Earth, and begin to shed their wings, and their feathers fall on the unsuspecting spectators below… With zip wires stru

Strip show meets drag show meets circus: Briefs

Briefs, the all-male circus cabaret is part circus act, part drag act, part strip tease and part filth. The boys from Brisbane Australia are back in the UK for the next couple of months touring with their show. It is a rough and rowdy sort of show and while it lacks the polish of other circus acts (including Cantina which they follow this week at the London Wonderground on the South Bank), they make up for it in energy, shock value and some impressive acrobatic feats. It is billed as burlesque with balls and there are plenty of them on display, either tucked between the legs or dangled over an unsuspecting member of the audience and a tray of raw sausages... If that doesn't sound like your idea of a good time, it probably is not the show for you. Others will find it a guilty pleasure... Saturday night's performance had quite a few hen nights in the audience and this definitely is a show for girls who have had too much to drink and want to see full frontal nudity in a mil