“ Circusses. The Moscow State Circus is a touring circus. Their performances cover all the familiar circus skills such as clowning, juggling, trapeze artistry, extreme balancing and strongman acts etc. All performers are Russian, trained in the Russian circus tradition. When the Bolsheviks took power in 1917 one of the first things they did was nationalize the circus. „
I took my family to see msc last weekend in norwich , we were all looking forward to it, on arrival we parked in an empty space in the car park when an angry looking man shouted at us to, move there! About six times pointing to another parking field about 500metres away. When we got in and showed our tickets we were directed to some side seats at the back when we had paid for ringside , when we tried to explain the women pretended not to understand and just kept shouting, sit there!, perhaps all russians like shouting and have no manners.We thought the show was rather boring, just juggling and jumping about realy,we did not think it was worth the money, and would not reccomend.
The Moscow State Circus is presently undertaking a UK tour (finishes 4 Sept) and so on the 7 June I found myself at the evening performance at Eastlands (home of Man City FC) where the circus was based until the 17 June. I had totally forgot that my wife had booked tickets and was using every excuse in the book to get out of it but, typically, came out second best again! However, by the time we got there, seeing the big top brought back happy childhood memories of going to Belle Vue Circus, which shut down many years ago and I then realized that was in fact the last time I went to the circus and was by then really looking forward to it.
They have a very basic website set up purely for the 2007 tour. http://www.moscowstatecircus.com/
The enviable reputation of Russian Circuses is based on 200 years of tradition but has enjoyed massive support from the communist regime over the last 70 years.
It all began when Catherine the Great had invited British trick rider Charles Hughes to set up a riding school in St Petersburg. She was immediately captivated by the performances and ordered two circus rings to be built. Hughes remained in St. Petersburg for a year before returning to England but his performers, now admired by the Russian nobility, decided to remain behind, giving birth to the contemporary Russian circus we know today. Circus quickly spread throughout the country and the world with various families setting up Circus schools passing on their skills from one generation to the next.
***Booking & Price***
The easiest way to book is via Ticketmaster
Another option is to pay on the day although you run the risk of not getting the seats you fancy or being fully booked (when we went it was probably 60% full with A seats full, B seats circa 70% full and C seats with plenty of spaces)
The ticket prices appear to change at each venue so but the prices at Eastlands were:
Ringside - £27 adults/£17 kids - right next to the stage at ground floor level with a great view. These are the most expensive.
A (Grandstand) - £20 adults/£14 kids - where we were sat face on to the front of the stage. Again a great view but you may be slightly to the side.
B (Side Circle) - £15 adults/£10 kids view is side on but still plenty to see.
C (Rear Circle) - £10 adult/£7 kids view is from the rear and possibly restricted by rigging in places. Still great for when the high wire acts are on.
There was also a £1 per ticket booking charge which I feel is a complete con given the tickets were emailed & printed off. The booking process was very quick and easy and we had no problems when entering the venue with the printed tickets they simply ticked us off a master list.
Free car parking was available right next to the circus (although there was plenty of car parking space this may be different dependent on the venue).
***Tour Dates & Venues***
There are plenty of places around the UK that the circus is visiting with it usually pitching up for 4/5 days and more at each venue with most days having two shows (generally 17:00 & 19:45 weekdays & 15:00 & 19:45 Saturdays/15:00 Sundays although these do change dependent on the venue so check when booking).
27 Jun 1 July HARPENDEN, Harpenden Common, Luton Road, Harpenden, AL5 3NU
4-8 July SOUTHAMPTON, Mayflower Park, Herbert Walker Avenue, SO14 2AQ
11-15 July BRACKNELL, South Hill Park, Ringmead, RG12 7PA
18-22 July TUNBRIDGE WELLS, Dunorlan Park, Halls Hole Road, TN2 3QN
26-31 July KENT SHOWGROUND, Detling, Maidstone, ME14 3JF
2-7 Aug HASTINGS, Glyne Gap Field, Bexhill Road, TN40 2JS
9-14 Aug EASTBOURNE, Princes Park, Royal Parade, BN22 7AQ
16-28 Aug BOURNEMOUTH, Branksome Rec Ground, Alder Road, Poole, BH12 2EB
30 Aug- 4 Sep EXETER, Eastern Fields, Pinhoe, EX4 8HT
The set up is a bit cheesy (I would have been gutted any other way its a travelling circus!!) and my first impression was that the big top was more of a little top but believe me its like the tardis once you get inside.
To get inside you need to go through the refreshments area and the queue extends around the refreshment tent so that you have to buy drinks (£1 each for bottles of water/coke), popcorn £3/£4, candy floss £3 (I dont think they believe in coins of less than £1 value everything was rounded up). Whilst queueing they come round selling a programme for £3 which we bought although it is a bit disappointing. Nice, colour A4 glossy of around 8 pages but probably a bit overpriced.
Once the main doors open you are in very quickly and showed to your seats. Ladies beware at this stage do not wear high heels as the floor was basically crushed, flattened stones.
From a guestimate as to how many seats were there I worked out that there were probably about 1500 seats, the majority of which were A category. This amazed me because it looked significantly smaller from the outside. The seating is as you would expect for basic, temporary seating but I never felt as though I was crushed in or that I had no room.
The ringmaster is on a unicycle and basically introduces the acts (although he also stars later).
The first one was Miss Natalia, a solo trapeze artist which was basically someone swinging on a trapeze but not really anything special as such.
In between the artists the clown entertained (there were actually two clowns but the other was not dressed as a clown and was basically the straight man for the act). The clown itself had me in stitches just looking at his face and you could tell he had a funny face even if he didnt have make up on!. The clowns were purely slapstick that the kids loved and they appeared 6/7 times between various acts and were very funny and knitted the various acts together (and gave the workers time to put up/take down rigging for the next act).
The Second Act was gymnasts Yarmorka which was a Russian Swing act which basically means they had a swing that was very tall and generated significant speed and when it was at the top of its arc they jumped off, did lots of twists and turns and landed on a mat. This was fascinating purely because of the heights they got to. They must have got to 30/40 feet in the air and so the timing had to be perfect.
Next up was the illusionists and they did the basic cutting the woman in half kind of show. It looked very good but if you know how its done the obvious answer is there for all to see. However, you still heard adults gasping!
Gurianov was next and he was my most favourite act of the night. He is a juggler but instead of standing there throwing things in the air he was doing what can be best described as reverse juggling. Instead of throwing items in the air he was bouncing them off the ground and doing it at very quick speeds. His final act was superb although he took four goes to get it right because the difficulty level was very high and undoubtedly took many years of practice.
Next up was Maszlov, male/female duo (who were actually the illusionists) who did lots of balancing acts on the floor. A bit boring really but very skillful nonetheless.
At this stage the show had been running approx 40 minutes and they had a 20 minute interval so you could go and buy some more £1 drinks.
In the second part, The Human Cannonball was the first on to great applause and again, the kids loved it. There was a big build up from the Ringmaster really egging it up and after having to adjust the safety net for effect there was a countdown and a bloke came flying out of a cannon. He went pretty fast though and pretty far!!
Next was the Flying Trapeze which was really good and there were 5/6 blokes swinging about the trapeze, letting go and doing somersaults and then being caught. The funniest thing was the big top isnt wide enough and as they are caught and swing back they crash into the side of the tent. This must have been going on for years as you can see where they hit the side of the tent!
Gauchos (one of the Gauchos is the Ringmaster) are up next and it starts off a bit poor, simply because you do not know what to expect. However, it then explodes onto an act whereby the two artists basically have a piece of rope each with an attachment at each end. They then swing this wildly and create music on a board. The speed it goes is totally fascinating.
Finally, The Puzanovs are up and these are the springboard acrobats. They have lots of accessories like springboards and chairs that sit on a pole on top of three people stood on end and it really is another part of the show which is fascinating and highly skilled. At one point one of the artists landed awkwardly and winced in pain so even though they probably practice many hours a day for many years it is still a high risk act. Whilst they are working on the floor (as opposed to high up) some of the routines get them very high and is done without a safety net with their fellow artists having to catch them if they fell..
The show was then over and the finale was all the acts congregating in the ring to thank the audience.
Great, clean, refreshing, family entertainment that will appeal to kids and adults alike. Kids will be mesmerised and adults will be equally mesmerised if only because it brings back such great memories!
I thought it was good value for money but could work out an expensive night for a family if you buy drinks/snacks/programme etc.