Circus has WOW! factor

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Gerry Cottle’s Wow Show - Globe Theatre

Every cloud, they say, has a silver lining and in this case the clouds of a dreadful summer which have driven veteran showman Gerry Cottle to bring his golden jubilee show to one of Blackpool’s two indoor Big Tops have given the resort a late-in-the-season treat.

All right, the rain has followed him here in torrential style and the venue’s foyer was damaged by fire last weekend but the show must go on – and thank goodness it has.

Celebrating half a century since Cottle himself ran away to join a circus he promised this would be something different and while he hasn’t exactly re-invented the wheel (or in this case the Big Top) he’s certainly given it a new spin.

WOW! claims it presents “50 acts in 100 minutes” and it just about does.

Obviously that doesn’t mean 50 entire acts – it’s more a very fast moving selection of familiar favourites and a pot pourri of sliced up performances from a large cast combining international genuinely “wow factor acts” such as Los Marinos from Colombia, a marvellous high wire and wheel of death daredevil combo which genuinely scares the audience into gasps and even screams.

Likewise there’s a “wow” of different proportions for the skills of the Fratelli-Folco Brothers who combine balancing, juggling and, later, a more traditional crossbow act.

But much of the show’s success is its speed, freshness, enthusiasm and size.

That’s largely thanks to the nine Kenyan Warriors and baker’s dozen youngsters of the Wookey Hole Circus Troupe which means half a dozen jugglers, four unicyclists, six aerial silk performers and so forth can be performing at any given time.

Throw in a fair sprinkling of mid-sized illusions and some quality clowning from Bippo, Ben and Olympia, a rocking and rolling band providing a Glee meets Grease soundtrack and it’s a challenge to keep up as the “50 acts” are clocked up (23 to 28 and 31 to 36 move particularly swiftly). But with so much happening who’s counting?