Circus Sallai, 2019

Review from: Bromsgrove, 10-14th April 2019

The back view of a woman balancing upside down by one hand on top of a metre high balance cane. The cane is one of a pair, which stand on a red star in the circus ring floor. The background is lit in pinks and purples. She wears a black and white striped long-sleeved leotard with flared cuffs. It's decorated with rhinestones, and she wears fishnet tights with black ballet pump shoes. Her hips are tilted to one side so one leg points down towards the ground, the other is bent at the knee with her foot behind her.
Fruszi Marco with Circus Sallai

With any new enterprise, the follow-up to the original  concept with all its enthusiasm , drive and energy is sometimes difficult – hence the dreaded ‘Second Album’ syndrome.  No such problem for Circus Sallai*. Their second season got underway with a mainly new cast and a totally new idea: Highlighting one of the problems of modern day society,  the show revolves around ‘Fred’, a homeless man taken into the circus community and given hope,  friendship and a purpose.

Leading the audience through the show are Ringmistress Angel Sallai and Clown Billy Herrin. Working well individually or as a duo, they knit the performance together with well thought out introductions and slick comic reprises.

A young man in a bowler hat with one arm extended towards the camera. A white ball is balanced on his straightened elbow, and his gaze is fixed on it. He has subtle clown make-up on, soft pink spots of rouge on his cheeks, a line of white under his eyes, and darkened lips that a pressed thin with a hint of a smile. He holds another white ball in his extended hand, and one more in his other hand, which is held at head height out to his side, elbow bent.
Billy Herrin with Circus Sallai

A well choreographed opening sequence leads to a fast paced show, featuring a cast of young artists. Circus Sallai is a female-led show, and the cast are predominantly female, offering a subtle nod to the current issue of Diversity. All of the acts are well presented and a full range of circus skills is on show. Most importantly, the acts are presented TO the public not AT them, and there are enough smiles in the Circus Sallai ring to go round the world.

The body of a young woman is shown in profile. She is wearing a white leotard with some large sequins on, her head is titled back and her mouth is closed around a dangling loop. She is hanging in the air by her mouth, posing with her arms outstretched and pointed toes
Lissandra Austin as part of the ‘Easy Riders’ act with Circus Sallai

The second half opens with a beautifully costumed and staged production of Send in the Clowns, featuring Seraina De Block on trumpet and vocals, Julia Szegedi and Jodie Nesbit  on silks, and Lizzie LaBelle performing ballet.

The resolution of the ‘Fred’ story follows a soulful rendition of Smile on trumpet and saxophone from Seraina and Lili Konyot, which introduces the finale. This brings the company back for a dancing, singing, colourful display to close the show.

Finally, a  word – or many – must be said about the lighting and music design from Pisti and Robert Sallai: It is of a standard rarely achieved in a travelling show of any kind. It enhances every artist’s time in the ring and becomes an integral part of the whole performance.

Full credits and programme are as follows:

Programme

Hula Hoops: Eve Everard

Swinging Trapeze: Jane Deaglan

Reprise: Billy Herrin and ‘Fred’

Rola Rola: David Herczeg

Urban Cowboy: Lili Konyot

Juggling: Billy Herrin

Hanging Pole: Julia  Szegedi

Laser Show: Lizzy LaBelle

Singing: Lili Konyot

Motorbike Carousel: Easy Riders (Patrick & Lissandra Austin)

            INTERVAL

Hand balancing: Fruzsi Markó

Aerial Chains: Signor Salvatore

Comedy Magic: Billy Herrin

Roller Skating: The Ferrandinos (Armando Ferrandino and Jane Deaglan)

A smiling woman with bright red hair and a glittering bustier top holds one end of a lasso rope above her head. The loop of the lasso is spinning around her body
Lili Konyot with Circus Sallai

Producer: Summer Roberts

Choreography: Elizabeth Springthorpe

Lighting and Sound: Pisti and Robert Sallai

*Disclaimer: One of the artists is a family member but I have tried at all times to be objective in this critique of the show.

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