Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Get Some Carter

Nights At The Circus, Old Vic Theatre, Bristol, Saturday April 1 2006.

Visit Bristol for the first time and take advantage of my last realistic chance to see the well-received theatre production of Angela Carter's Nights At The Circus, a book which Dead Kenny read on its' first paperback publication back in 1985, so consider this a 21st birthday celebration. Get a relatively cheap seat, perched up in the gallery, which gives an appropriately 'birds-eye' view of this magical tale which follows Fevvers, a bawdy Cockney trapeze artist, apparently born with wings, being pursued from a London brothel to a St Petersberg circus by a slightly pompous Scandinavian journalist in 1899.

It seems such a simple but brilliant idea to translate this book about the magic and darkness of the circus (and by extension, life itself) into a colourful, vibrant musical play that it seems astonishing nobody has thought of it before. The physical energy of the cast (many of whom double up in additional, contrasting roles), the inventiveness of the set design and the daring of the choreography fully complement a clever adaptation of a tricky fantasy novel. Many of the plaudits will rightly go to Natalia Tena (a star in the making who is currently filming the role of Nymphadora Tonks in the next Harry Potter film) in the lead role of Fevvers but Andy Williams does his best to hog the limelight with a hilarious turn as the rasping ringmaster with a decidedly unnatural affection for his puppet pig.

Although the second half of the play is a little downbeat in comparison to the energy and colour of the first, it proves a memorable experience, which is more than can be said for my initial impressions of Bristol itself. Maybe the day's grey drizzle didn't help, but bumbling around the city there seems to be a lack of a centre, with many of the pubs seemingly still transfixed in a twilight zone whereupon it's still appropriate to be shut on a Saturday afternoon until 6pm.

No doubt Bristol has a thriving nightlife, and it may be that many of the best places are hidden from the normal tourist traps - anyone who knows the city well, feel free to use the comments box to make some suggestions for next time Dead Kenny spreads his honey in that vicinity.

Related links: Kate StrangeTime's considered and articulate review of the same show's earlier run in Warwick.

Nights At The Circus is completing its run at the Sheffield Lyceum until April 15.


Blogger Dead Kenny said...

No Bristol rovers reading this site, then? Or have they all had a Massive Attack of shyness, eh?

3:34 PM  

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