Skip to content

Chinese State Circus

I rather enjoyed watching the Olympic gymnastics on the telly last month, so when I saw that the Chinese State Circus was in town, at the Malvern Theatres, I thought I’d treat myself to a standby ticket to today’s matinee. Normally, when I go to a Saturday matinee at the theatre, it’s full of coach loads of OAPs and I’m one of the youngest people there. Today was quite the opposite – it was full of families with young children and I felt positively elderly! There was one particular brat, aged about seven, sitting directly behind me who kept kicking my seat in an extremely annoying manner. I had to request her, politely but very firmly, to stop doing it, and fortunately that seemed to do the trick.

The show itself was very impressive. It was a mixture of dance, gymnastics, acrobatics, tumbling, juggling, Kung Fu, and even synchronised cycling. It was well choreographed and clearly very skilled, with about 30 artistes taking part in some breathtaking performances. It didn’t always go entirely smoothly – occasionally a juggler would drop something, or a tumbler wouldn’t quite get it spot on. But that just showed how hard the skills were, and they got a huge cheer from the audience when they tried the move again and nailed it. 

 During the Shaolin-monk-style Kung Fu act, with lots of excessive sword swinging, staff-lunging and athletic leaps, I was reminded irresistibly of the scene in the Indiana Jones film where Harrison Ford watches the display, then simply draws his pistol and shoots the guy instead! I wasn’t too enamoured with their act. There was also a rather irritating ringmaster/clown who seemed to be based on the Monkey character from the television series when I was a child. I could have done without him, though I suppose that his interventions gave the main acts time to change their costumes and catch their breath. Apart from the annoying Monkey King and the show-off Kung Fu monks, I found the rest of the acts absolutely gripping. It was a very enjoyable way of spending a Saturday afternoon.