dpm is a Birmingham-based freelancer with experience of arts and lifestyle features.
Roll up, Roll up
The circus rolled into town in dramatic style with acrobats, contortionists and even elephants thanks to Circus 1903 at Birmingham Hippodrome.
The show recreates big top with a series of acts interspersed with comedy interludes from the ringmaster played by David Williamson. With his fake moustache and top hat, Williamson dominates the show – the audience loves him and he's clearly enjoying every minute.
Circus 1903 is big on spectacle. The opening act, Building the Canvas City, sees the stage filled with mallet-wielding strongmen creating the big top and this is followed by short bursts of acts ranging from contortionist to juggler and acrobat to high balance. Audiences will be wowed by their skills as they fly through the air, balance on one hand or turn somersaults off a giant seesaw.
There is plenty of audience participation with both adults and children invited on stage to help with some of the acts and provide plenty of laughter. Williamson is also a magician and so we see him plucking coins from behind children's ears and pulling eggs out of his top hat.
There's added circus magic in the shape of two puppet elephants – 10ft high Queenie and little Peanut who indulge in capers and circus tricks.
The performances in Birmingham are particularly special because the circus arrives in town to coincide with the Hippodrome's 120th birthday. Originally opened as The Tower of Varieties and Circus in 1899, the theatre's first show was a circus and so it is the perfect time to be bringing the big top back to the theatre. Indeed on the opening night on Oct 25, Williamson announced this on stage and led the audience in a rendition of Happy Birthday!
Opening night on Oct 25 is followed by a free Birthday Open Day on Sat 26 October when there will be circus acts in the city, walkabout performances and talks and tours at the theatre. This is followed by a series of free circus activities during half term scheduled to take place between 1-3pm on Oct 29 to Nov 1. For full details of all activities see www.birminghamhippodrome.com