SHOWZAM REVIEW: A new twist on big top

Circus Shorts - Showzam
Circus Shorts - Showzam
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Circus Shorts, Grand Theatre, Blackpool. Given the Collins English Dictionary definition of circus as “(performance given by) a travelling company of acrobats, clowns, performing animals etc” then any questions about the credentials of Circus Shorts can be put to one side.

Unlike the more traditional Circus Bollywood and the brief visit of the anarchic Circus Hilarious, this two night stint of Circus Shorts is “contemporary.”

Yes, it’s a fairly catch all term – like “new variety” and “modern vaudeville” but it serves a purpose in summing up the blurring of the edges between genres which the two halves of this show effortlessly achieves.

As such So & So Circus is superb. Kaveh Rahnama and Lauren Hendry combining their juggling and gymnastic skills to tell the story of 1920s acrobatic dance duo Frank Johnstone and Evie Steele. Their jumping jive and be bop routine takes to frightening dimensions as the Hot Dots meet, rise to fame and descend into oblivion in sequences as much contemporary dance as circus – and always breath-taking.

The opening act, Mattress Circus, is more a work in progress – and one which has clearly seen the clowning of Slava’s Snowstorm. Here paper is used instead of “snow” but there’s a similar fusion of pathos, slapstick and Beckett’s Waiting For Godot as the three very differently shaped performers fall, fight and laugh using mime and repetition to capture a feeling of futility in a world which seems only to confuse them but never entirely defeat them.

Compere Doug Francisco was a little overcome by his surroundings but re-assured the audience Showzam! represented “a spiritual homecoming” for variety performers to Blackpool.

Not that we ever thought they’d been away.

Circus Shorts is repeated tonight.