Avalon by Giffords Circus
Rating: ★★★★
Venue: Chiswick House & Gardens 
Cast: Maximiliano Stia, Nell O’Hara, Tyler West, Nick Hodge Dylan, Asia Medini, Pat Clarrison, Pip Ashley, Latoya Donnert, Morgan Barbour, Victoria Sejr, Dany Rivelino, Sita Rivelino, Andriy Moskva, Nikita Ostrovskyi, Serhii Niemtsev, Volodymyr Potaychuk and Denise Denyer 

AVALON is a show that will immerse the audience in a colourful medieval world of pageantry and Arthurian legend, with lavish costumes, opulent set, and a live band all conjured up by award winning international acclaimed performance designer takis, whose innovative and diverse body of work encompasses West End and leading UK theatre.

Giffords Circus have been supplying high quality circus entertainment for over twenty years now, and I was very much looking forward to my first Giffords experience, based around one of my favourite legends, King Arthur and Camelot. This year's theme, Avalon, delights audiences with iconic stories woven into the phenomenal circus acts, such as the Sword in the Stone

Avalon, directed by Cal McCrystal, is a rip-roaring evening full of colour, wonder and astounding talent from this year's many acts. From singing, to aerial hoop, to Cyr wheel, to roller-skating - there's something for all the family.

One of the aspects I loved most about this production is the inclusion of a live band/orchestra, known as the 'The Giffords Circus Band'. The live band adds a further layer of immersion and is something that separates this circus from many others I've seen. The music often paired with the narrative of the story, but at times did hit the mark in marrying up to parts of the story. However, the costumes from takis were impeccable and captured the essence of this year's theme with ease.

Another aspect that felt different to the rest was the little to no encouragement for cheering, which in traditional circus' I find can be quite cringeworthy at times. However, last night's audience needed no encouragement to whoop and cheer, as the entertainment was astounding and audible gasps could be heard throughout from children and adults alike! 

One slight criticism is the use of animals in this production. The entirety of the cast are more than talented enough without the gimmick of animals. And while the animals seemed safe and happy, it did seem rather unnecessary when this is certainly not the 'norm' anymore.

While nothing is particularly jaw-dropping or death-defying, there are so many wonderfully highly-skilled acts throughout the evening. From Nell O'Hara's captivating vocals as Guinevere, to Tyler West and Maximiliano Stia's ridiculously well-timed comedy, to the mesmerising Damsels of the Ring (aerial hoop) display from Victoria Sejr and Morgan Barbour.

The finale ties the production together wonderfully and you'll leave the circus tent feeling rejuvenated and satisfied. A modern twist on not just the much loved tales of Arthur and Camelot, but also of traditional circus. Giffords Circus have outdone themselves on the theme this year; a production piece that's worthy of the West End.

You can book tickets to Avalon by Gifford's Circus, here.

Review by Lisa

**photo credit: Emily Jo West**

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