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  • Writer's pictureSarah

Avalon - the new show for 2024 from Giffords Circus

We enjoyed Giffords Circus last year, so we were pleased to be invited back to review again. Even as a fully grown adult, there's still something exciting about a trip to the circus.


Giffords is a relatively new circus, established in 2004, but has taken a traditional approach. It awakens the dormant child within us. It did exactly that for Nell Gifford, who ran away to the circus aged 18. She so loved the circus life that she was able to persuade her husband to help establish their very own circus in Gloucestershire. Sadly she died of breast cancer only a few years later, but the circus continues in her name.


Don't come to Gifford Circus 2024 show expecting Cirque Soleil; do come expecting to be entertained, wowed by the prowess of the acrobats and roller-skaters, to laugh at the antics of the clowns, and be amused by the pony and dog acts (these are completely legal).

This year the theme was Avalon, and Cuthbert's quest to become a knight of the roundtable in King Arthur's Court. Cuthbert's part was taken by American clown, Tyler West. It's important to remember that Cuthbert needs to be pronounced with a lisp, a running gag throughout the show. All the acts are ascribed an Arthurian persona and costume to fit with the theme, the reality of this is paper thin and seemed a bit pointless.


Giffords has its own marvellous house band who perform a range of songs pretty much continuously, with impeccable timing to what’s happening in the ring which means they have to be exceptionally alert and versatile– and they certainly meet the challenge as the score ranged from pop to folk to taking in Kasabian, Simon and Garfunkel and music intended to evoke the Arthurian period. The band’s own David Meredith is a good vocalist and Nell O’Hara as 'Guinevere' is beautiful, but doesn't really have that certain star quality to grab the audience's attention.


The clowning in the show is largely between Maximillano Stia as Merlin, Tyler West as Cuthbert and Dany Rivelino as Barold the Page. None wear traditional clown make-up or clothing, there is a nod to this with a video clip of Tweedy the clown who starred in last year's show. Their outfits were in Arthurian styles instead. (Last year I ended up going down a complete rabbit hole about the clown register - yes, really there is such a thing, do look it up!). It seemed a bit of a shame that some of the audience participation was from an audience plant though.

The show really comes into it's own with the acts that leave you in awe of their skill, athleticism and bravery. These included Nick Hodge as King Arthur, a seasoned Cyr wheel champion who normally performs in Vegas, Morgan Barbour and Victoria Seir on the aerial hoop and hair hanging (without a safety net), the Godfathers a Ukrainian acrobatic quartet, and bother and sister Dylan and Asia Medini with their high speed roller skate act, hoopla hoops and daring balances. The roller-skating is later given the pastiche treatment by Tyler, which is one of the funnier moments of the show.


There are also two animal acts, one with a pony, and one with four rescue dogs. All the animals are rewarded with food constantly throughout their acts. The dogs looked to be enjoying themselves, I'm not so sure about the pony. I don't know whether the time has come to call last orders on the animal acts, even though horses were so central to Nell's vision for her circus.


The seating is unallocated, taken on a first come- first served basis. If I were to offer any advice, it would be to sit down sooner rather than later, and try for a seat facing the artistes entrance to the ring. This is because the show isn't evenly directed to all parts of the big top, you'd definitely see more/get more participation in those seats.

In essence, this is an old fashioned family orientated circus with lots of highly skilled acts, it's certainly worth catching the tour for a few hours of light-hearted entertainment.


The full list of Artistes performing in Gifford's Circus AVALON:

Maximiliano Stia – Merlin the Magician

Nell O’Hara – Queen Guinevere

Tyler West – Cuthbert

Nick Hodge – King Arthur

Dylan Medini – Sir Lancelot

Asia Medini – Lady Morgan le Fay

Patrick Harrison - Sir Dagonet

Pip Ashley – The Priestess, Lenore

Latoya Donnert – The Lady of Shalott

Pony - Kelpie

Steeds - Llamrei and Hengroe

Morgan Ashley Barbour - Isolde - Damsel Of The Ring

Natalia Victoria Fernandez Ciprian – Enid - Damsel Of The Ring

Serhii Niemtsev - Sir Escanor the Large

Andriy Moskva - Sir Galahad

Nikita Ostrovskyi - Sir Bedevere

Volodymyr Potaychuk - Sir Gwaine

Dany Rivelino - Barold the Page

DENISE - IgrayneThe full list of Artistes performing in Giffords Circus AVALON:


Written and directed by Cal McCrystal

Creative advisors: James Keay & Tweedy the Clown


Creative Team:

Cal McCrystal – Writer & Director

Stuart Winter – Associate Director

takis – Production & Costume Designer

James Keay – Musical Director

Kate Smyth – Choreographer

Ian Scott – Lighting Designer

James Marsh – Sound Designer

Emma Campbell – Assistant Choreographer

Joe Avery – Head of Art

Beatrix Eden & Jamie Sanders – Pyrite Creative


Avalon 2024 Tour Dates


6 - 23 June

CHISWICK HOUSE & GARDENS

LONDON


27 June - 8 July

EVENLEY WOOD GARDEN

Northamptonshire


11 - 22 July  

STONOR PARK

Oxfordshire  


25 July - 5 August

BARRINGTON

Oxfordshire


8 - 19 August

MINCHINHAMPTON COMMON

Gloucestershire


22 August - 2 September

MARLBOROUGH COMMON

Wiltshire


5 - 16 September

STRATTON MEADOWS

Cirencester, Gloucestershire


19 - 29 September

FENNELLS FARM,

Stroud, Gloucestershire

Box Office: 01453 800200



Ticket Prices:


Child (aged 3 – 14 years old): from £10.00

Adult: from £20.00





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