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Tumble Circus: This Is What We Do For A Living
Spiegeltent - London Wonderground, Southbank
10th June 2012


Trapeze and red dress

I have decided that I have too nervous a disposition for circus acts, especially when those acts involve two performers carrying out breathtaking acts on one trapeze, making the best of a fairly tiny workspace.

The climax to Tumble Circus left me as red-faced and sweaty as the magnificent Ken and Tina, the duo behind this irreverent, immensely enjoyable thrill-ride. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

The Adelaide Fringe award winners got off to a slightly awkward start in the Spiegeltent. The audience didn't seem to know what to expect and what they thought should have been a dazzling opening gambit was instead a low-key introduction, setting up the narrative of the piece. But it became clear this wasn't going to be an ordinary circus act, rather a full-on theatre experience demonstrating clowning as wordplay as much as pratfalls and gurning.

But when the stunts really kicked in - beginning with a cracking, literally head-spinning trapeze act - the audience soon got on side and lapped up every minute. Superb comic timing from Ken's slightly dopey character with innate Irish charm contrasted with Swedish-born Tina's joyous sarcasm.

View of the stage

As with any live performance there were a few flubs. But dropping a couple of juggling clubs was frankly nothing compared to the precision, skill and staggering feats of endurance faultlessly carried off on ropes and trapeze. One such daring deed saw Ken rather hilariously court a member of the audience, returning up a rope three times for roses to give to his sweetheart. Utterly ridiculous but incredibly charming and more than a little impressive.

Among the comic escapades was a rather touching pregnancy sketch, beautiful in its chemistry and acrobatics, with a very funny payoff. Equally, a look into the mental states of the pair was darkly humorous, offsetting some (deliberately) groan-worthy gags earlier on.

Which brings us back to the finale - a staggering tour-de-force that could have been dubbed by the internet generation "two people, one trapeze". Gracefully flipping over each other, swinging, spinning, carrying on, the couple managed to combine the graceful and comical with some genuinely heart-stopping false falls.

Once I caught my breath, panting along with the pair, the show was rounded off perfectly by an audience-interaction pillow fight. That put this unique take on circus to bed and perfectly summed up the childish glee and enthusiasm of the pair that proved infectious to the crowd.

Tumble Circus ran at the London Wonderground from 8th May to 17th June 2012, then ran at the Edinburgh Fringe from 15th to 27th August 2012.

Nearest tube station: Waterloo (Northern, Bakerloo, Jubilee)

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