When Eric (Mick) Edgley introduced the first Great Moscow Circus to Australian audiences in 1965, traditional circus in Australia was changed forever. After Edgley died in 1968, his son, Michael, took over the reins and for the last 50 years has continually scoured Russia to source the world’s most accomplished circus performers for regular editions of The Great Moscow Circus.
For this celebratory 50th Anniversary edition, Michael Edgley has added some talented home grown acts to the mix, coming up with a touring traditional circus which would challenge any similar circus in the world, and of course, presented with the trademark panache and attention to detail and presentation that audiences have come to expect from an Edgley circus.
The adrenalin kicks in from the moment of entering the garish yellow and red big top bedecked with colourful minarets and banners promising The Greatest, Great Moscow Circus. Cheerful cast members, disguised as staff, offer greetings as well delicious smelling popcorn, Dagwood dogs, fairy floss and colourful whizzing gadgets, while ushering wide-eyed, parent-clutching tots to their seats where they discover Nino, a surprisingly young and personable clown, busily prepping the audience.
The start of the show is heralded by a spectacular parade involving colourfully costumed acrobats and a giant maypole. A lithe young woman, clad head to toe in sparkling Swarovski crystals, is whisked high above the audience to perform really risky manoeuvres like hanging by her toes, or by just one ankle, suspended from a small hoop.
Nine muscular young Russian acrobats toss each other about on narrow beams, returning later in the show, to propel each other even higher into a chair atop of a tall pole carried by a team-mate, then higher still into a chair carried by a second team-mate standing on the shoulders of the first. Exciting stuff!
A Russian Cossack dances on a high tightrope, an amazing Chinese ballerina dances en pointe on her partner’s shoulders, and there’s a heart-stopping high flying trapeze act. Later, there’s an even more heart-stopping trapeze act involving an impossibly beautiful couple who perform surprisingly erotic apache dance suspended high above the audience. Don’t try this one at home.
It’s not all stunning acrobatics though. Edgley has made sure there are lots to keep the littlies boggle-eyed. Enchanting, were six ultra-cute, glitter-sprinkled liberty ponies that performed charmingly while soap bubbles floated around them. Startling, were three camels, two lamas and two water buffalo, cleverly trained to perform dutifully together in the circus ring. And if all that were not enough there is the gorgeous macaw which flies through a flower-decorated hoop held by an audience member.
If you thought you had seen the ultimate during the last Great Moscow Circus, when four daring motor-cyclists whizzed around the steel ‘Globe of Death’. Think again. This time it’s six, yes count ‘em, six ridiculously foolhardy Cuban daredevils who stand your hair on end.
There are too many acts to list them all here, but efficient stage-management keeps them coming fast and furiously. And in case you were wondering, don’t worry if the night is chilly, Edgley has arranged for the big-top to be heated throughout the season.
The Great Moscow Circus – 50th Anniversary Tour
Majura Park, Majura Road, Canberra
Performance: Wednesday 6 April 2016
Season continues to 25 April 2016
The Great Moscow Circus also plays Wagga Wagga (27 April – 1 May) and St. Kilda (5 – 22 May). Other dates to follow. For more information, visit: www.thegreatmoscowcircus.com.au for details.
Image: Nino the Clown – courtesy of The Great Moscow Circus
Review: Bill Stephens