Bobby Roberts and his granddaughter Summer present a battalion’s worth of Arabian Stallion horses and miniature ponies, who trot in formation, pirouette, bow, dance, rear, and jump through hoops in exchange for small pieces of carrot.
The horses are well trained, but it’s when they misbehave that the audience loves them most. Harry the mini pony was particularly popular after his shameless pursuit of the other horses’ carrots.
The clowning of the Konyot clown trio is great fun. Doubling as ringmaster, the male Konyot is a particularly accomplished auguste clown. A slapstick set where Konyot tries to conduct an orchestra – a slapbaton set? – really gets the audience on side in preparation for act two, an anarchic disruption of his female colleague’s performance (we never find out what it was supposed to be). There’s no doubt this is as funny for adults as it is for kids, and for bonus points the hosepipe trumpet is surprisingly beautiful.
Italian diabolist and aerial performer Salvotore Sambito is another great asset to the show. His complex diabolo work and testosterone-driven cloud swinging, especially the unexpected lunges at the audience, is as impressive as it is thrilling.
But not all of Sambito’s moves have been directed to their best advantage – unlike strong man T.K. Roberts, whose relatively simple chair balancing act is shaped into a fantastic story that gives him the opportunity for some hardcore showmanship.
Other acts are a pair of Hungarian jugglers, a rola rola balancer from the Ukraine, and the sword balancing Michela Cardova from Italy, with varying degrees of success.
Throughout, the gloriously over-the-top lighting and cheesy music add enormously to the atmosphere. As do the dour stage hands, whose grim professionalism in operating the complex pulley system and – to the delight of the ringside – a giant pooper scooper for the horses is a wonderful counterpoint to the broad vaudeville showmanship.
This is a proper traditional circus, right down to the candy floss and the car park in a field. It’s a trip down memory lane or a wonderful first experience for all.
Run Ends Sunday June 10