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Michael Edgley's Great Moscow Circus

Home > Newcastle > Family | Fun for Children | Kids | Magic
by Owen Chow (subscribe)
"If you are truly passionate about something, then there is no other way to live than pursuing and growing while fully engaged in your love."
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Where people went before smart phones or the movie It
If you ever said to me, "We should go to the circus," I would probably have said "That is a great idea. Do they still exist?" and "Is this payback for something I forgot to do?"

I was given tickets as part of my internship at my local newspaper, so I was faced with the uncomfortable dilemma of either wasting my employers' tickets or going to the circus. When I asked my father if he wanted to go to the circus he said, "When I was young I saw the same circus and one of the bear tamers got mauled by her bear. It's not ethical to keep bears chained up like that," which made me want to go.

Great Moscow Circus, Circus, Acrobats
You try taking a photo of moving people with lighting designed by the God of Rainbows.

We were at the St. Ives Showground and they had put up a Russian themed tent. The inside was smaller than I expected, I could feel the compressed heat and sounds of so many bodies in an enclosed space. Kids hurtled around the stage waving glow sticks, yelling and bumping against one another. A mix of people slowly filed in, mostly families with children with the odd group of teenagers and adults.

What followed could be described as a psychedelic dream if it is appropriate to use 'kids' and 'families' in the same sentence. The lighting kept changing colour as if the producers were trying to light the stage in every colour known to man. The music was loud and matched the vibe of its acts, with all kinds of intense drumming for the acrobatics and whimsical when the novel and humorous acts came on.

Great Moscow Circus, Circus, Acrobats
According to Russian Gandalf, this act symbolises the Mongol invasion of Russia and the fiery defiance of the Russian peoples. I can't see it, personally.

Clowns wearing slight makeup introduce the circus, which was probably for the best because real clowns are the stuff of nightmares. The lights dimmed, and then Russian Gandalf started telling the audience about the history of Russia, complete with music, sound effects and stilt walkers dressed like Easter Island statues.

So this is just theatre then, I thought, waiting for the bears to arrive. My vision of the circus involved elephants, lions, bears, acrobats and monstrous clowns, so basically like a zoo without fences. What this circus actually had were a lot of performers. Brightly costumed Russians were hurled into the air and landed with two feet on cushioned bars and dodged shining skipping ropes and spun down trapeze curtains and juggled fire-sticks and discs. A leather clad knife thrower threw his knives blindfolded at another circus employee.

Great Moscow Circus, Circus, Acrobats
Well I guess at this point I'm not surprised by anything, including bondage references in front of kids.

At one point a Steel rotating contraption was placed in the centre for balancing work and the finale was a hollow sphere where five motorcyclists spun around each other. The softer acts involve ponies jumping hurdles, a horse and its trainer acting out a hotel stay and the clown enacting tricks with a human-sized balloon. Russian Gandalf popped up occasionally to continue narrating the story, introduce the acts and wave his stick around.

So that's what happened. My experience of the circus have not changed my expectations about the circus. I think if you have kids they'll enjoy the humour and the novelty of the performances that at least aren't on a screen but there were moments I was slightly bored. In all seriousness this is not a comment against the performers, who were very skilled and performed their roles expertly or even the show itself, which does exactly what it promises: give a "stunningly visual array of high tech lighting and elaborate costumes." The lighting really was stunning. It was so stunning it could have passed for a light show and the world outside was dulled in comparison. However, it's a series of acts that follow on one after another. If you're entertained by acrobatics then you'll have a ball, and it was great at first, but by the second hour it felt dragged out to me. In a movie or novel there is a overarching narrative that links everything together and introduces characters that socialise and give the audience proxies to root for. This felt like an action movie of just action scenes, with Gandalf popping up now and again and mumbling things to try to tie everything together.

Great Moscow Circus, Circus, Acrobats
Sometimes in life, one must run in circles balancing fire in his hands to make money. This is also usually metaphorical.

Now it's not fair to criticise a circus for not having fleshed-out characters, that's not the point of the thing. But it was hard to care after a while when there was nothing to think about. It was all visual and sounds, like a two hour firework show. If you're a kid though, I suspect this would be like a sugar overdose and the rough equivalent of cocaine for when you're six. Therefore, the fault is with me, I couldn't get engaged but I'm sure some people do like two hour movies with just action scenes. The Transformers franchise exists for that reason. As does porn.

Great Moscow Circus, Circus, Motorcycles, steel ball
Well, if we can't get a bear mauling, those motorcycles are awfully hard to control...
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Why? Skilled acrobatics, rainbow lights and lots of kids in the audience.
When: Usually 7:30pm - 10pm from Wed- Friday, a range of times on weekends, usually 1pm, 4pm, and 7:30 pm on Saturdays and 12 pm on Sundays.
Phone: Ticket Direct: 1300 798 550
Where: St Ives, Bankstown, Maitland, Tighes Hill Newcastle
Cost: $62 - $25 for adults, $42 - $16 for children.
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