REVIEW: More than just clowning around in new, Wonderia

Wonderia. Picture from Playbox Theatre
Wonderia. Picture from Playbox Theatre
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Wonderia Playbox Circus, The Dream Factor. Runs from 26 – 28 September and 3-4 October 2014.

Wonderia by name, Wonderia by nature. Welcome to the spectacular world of the clown, a figure at has delighted audiences in many forms for centuries.

From the Commedia dell’arte in the 16th century, to Shakespeare’s free-speaking commentators who prick the pomposities of kings and get away with it, right up to the circus clowns of our childhood and beyond; the clown has been with us for a long time.

We love him while we laugh at him. He is the anti-dote to tragedy, the rude gesture to common sense, endlessly dodging the sadness that hides behind the smile.

Playbox Theatre’s new show embraces the history of the clown in all his many forms.

But this is no documentary; this is a riot of colour, bursting with energy and dazzling circus skills.

Created by Mary King, Stewart McGill, the performers may be young, but they understand the power of movement and gesture to communicate with an audience.

For me, the outstanding part of the show was a piece inspired by Albert Lamorisse’s classic film, The Red Balloon.

Martha Markham is the child who is led through the streets of the city, encountering many strange and wonderful people on the way.

She held the stage with the grace and confidence of a real star.

Playbox’s shows are often made of many small parts, brilliantly assembled.

Their gift for ensemble playing was in full force tonight.

The show has been performed to some prestigious audiences, including the G8 Summit at the Houses of Parliament, and deserves a much longer run.

Wonderia has the wow factor in spades.

By Nick Le Mesurier