STAGE: The Great Moscow Circus – Suncoast Casino car park, Durban
REVIEW BY BILLY SUTER
IF YOU enjoyed last year’s touring circus from Australia then prepare for an altogether new level of wonder and excitement with The Great Moscow Circus which first visited Durban’s Suncoast Casino a few years ago.
Superior, in great leaps and bounds, to what I considered a very disappointing offering from Down Under last year, The Great Moscow Circus is in Durban after Cape and Gauteng seasons.
It’s in town – in an impressive, large, white-and-red tent festooned with fairylights, at the northern parking lot of Suncoast Casino – until March 22 then heads for Gauteng’s Carnival City from March 31 to April 9.
Regarded as Russia’s most famous calling-card, to quote the circus website, The Great Moscow Circus was reportedly brought to South Africa at a cost of R80million, and is presented in a 1 700-seater tent blessed (thank heaven!) with air-conditioning.
It’s a slick and polished show, well organised and deftly presented, with a fine variety of acts – no animals in this circus, let it be known! – which are sure to delight and dazzle as they did at the packed first performance at Suncoast Casino on Friday afternoon (March 3).
When one arrives to take one’s seat – greeted by popcorn sellers (a hefty R25 for a 10-handful packet) and sellers of illuminated toy swords (R120 each) – one’s eye is drawn to a large, three-storey glass structure dominating the ring.
Amiable (if not always comprehensible) ringmaster, Stanislav Knyazkov, who recently enjoyed a guest season with Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey in the US, then introduces the beguiling The Catwall Trampoline.
The act has five agile performers, guest stars from Canada, tumbling and catapulting themselves from the structure onto trampolines flanking it, mesmerising with their deft landings and posings. Truly off the wall.
With fun, non-painted-face clowns entertaining in between acts, one is constantly delighted throughout, the first half highlights including The Diorio Boys on The Giant Wheel.
Exclusive to the 2017 Great Moscow Circus, this thrilling act sees four fearless men walking in, through and on top of four tons of a double, spinning, shining chrome structure – and at one stage they even do so blindfolded… and while skipping. A great act.
Also worth special mention is the Rolla Bolla act, in which young Sascha Williams offers nail-biting tension as he balances atop stacks of cylinders and blocks – at one stage even playing an electric guitar as he wobbles above his shaky tower on a raised podium.
I was also entranced, as were most in the audience, with Sixto and Lucia, a team that makes lightning-fast costume changes in the blink of an eye. I counted 14 costume changes, but there may have been more. A simple, quick lifting of a sheet, or a shower of silver confeftti and, boom, a new outfit every time. Excellent stuff.
The cumbersome equipment used in many of the acts roll in and out quickly, with seemingly little effort, making for a slick and effective presentation. And no more so than in the big finale – also presented here when this circus was last in town.
It’s The Globe of Death, which sees five motorbike riders whizzing in and around each other, at high speed, in a steel orb which, in a particularly daring moment, seperates into two halves, with three bikers in the top half and the other two below. A woman even enters the orb at one stage, standing still while the bikes race around her. The crowd loved it!
Among other acts of note are an excellent juggler in snake-hipped Mexican Juan Pablo Martinez; and The Magolas, a wonderful team of gymnasts from the Ukraine who tumble and fly between horizontal bars with aplomb.
Also special is The Rubber Man (Emin Abudllaev), who will have you peeping through your fingers as he contorts his double-jointed body and does strange movements with his stomach muscles.
Admission prices may be a little steep – R195 to R595 – but if there is any circus worth treating yourself and the family to, it is this one!
Note that special discounts are available for Suncoast Rewards Cardholders. For more information and to book your tickets visit www.greatmoscowcircus.co.za