Crawley Circus Festival 2008

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The Hawth, Crawley

15-Aug-2008 to 17-Aug-2008

Another impressive turnout from TWJC this year: Nicky, Karina, Helen, Beth, Jo, Jenny, Dave K, Charlie 1, Charlie 2, Laurence, GaŽtan, John, Andrew, Little Si, Frag & myself. I turned up late in the afternoon to find the TWJC encampment was already assembled thanks to the advanced guard. Marvellous.

It was good to see Dave Law again & especially so to see him up & about & mobile again after his nasty accident. Even if the doctor's did forget to tell him that he had a broken knee cap.

Andrew was dispensing shots of chilli vodka to all & sundry. In fact the dispensing of shots seemed to become a focus of general amusement over the weekend. One or two shots of whiskey would find their way into my cider. I later found out that when the whiskey had ran out they filled the bottle with cider & were adding shots of cider to my cider, for some reason it was hilarious that I didn't notice this.

Helen turned up in her camper & we all teased her about her chavtastic spinning hubcaps, but we were all suitably impressed by the fully tiled kitchen in the back.

After not a little drinking Nicky & I went to collect our pizza delivery. The guy happily loaded me up with ten or so pizzas which I carefully carried round the building back to where we were camped only to be greeted with screams of terror & people running towards me as I looked like a mobile jenga tower.

The TWJC ukulele orchestra (Dave, Frag & rock star Si) was on fine form. Much improvement has been made since last year.

On Saturday most of us attended the now compulsory stealing workshop with Amie, Steve & Dave where we enjoyed being the background noise & were startled by Steve's horn. We were even asked to demonstrate one of the moves & shockingly managed to pull off a fantastic run first go. Anyone at the workshop that didn't know us probably thinks that we're really good.

Nicky & I introduced Jo, Beth & Andrew to the joys of Zombie Fluxx & had a truly EPIC game that ended in a very satisfying zombie victory.

Charlie 1 & Karina acquired a hefty stockpile of bouncing balls, Helen bought a new hoop & a staff, Dave thought about buying some clubs but never made it past the bar & Laurence bought loads of goodies most of which are probably still on site now.

The Show

Our master of ceremonies for the evening was the always instantly likeable Sam Veale & right now I can't think of anyone who has done a better job of hosting a show. He was smart, professional, relaxed & very very funny throughout.

First on stage was Gemma Palomar & Telma Fernandes with a very well choreographed Chinese Pole routine that had a great mix of dance, capoeira & pole work. This act was good, but could have been brilliant. There were just too many hesitant moments where one or the other performers was waiting for the right moment to do something. The performance seemed a bit unpolished.

Guillermo Porta Gomez sadly pushed many of the wrong buttons for me with his ball juggling act. He had a slow start, then performed long drawn out three, four & five ball juggling sequences. He came on stage with ten balls, but only used five. What were the rest for? Spares for while he was on top of the table & chair? It suggested a lack of confidence in his own ability. Fortunately he redeemed himself later in the show.

Hand balancing contortionist Tiina Tuomista took the quality up a few levels. She was smooth, confident & very sexy. Her whole set was excellently choreographed & contained many really tough balances which although were often not held for very long were well exeuted.

BYJOTY star Reuben Cohn-Gordon was simply stunning. His hands were often too fast to see & the patterns were often almost incomprehensible. I noticed that there was little variety to the juggling, everything was an intricate pattern in front of the body with throws that rarely ventured above head height. Yet despite this I sat there transfixed by every throw & catch. I know that three ball juggling is my thing but the non-juggling friends we brought along to the show were just as impressed as I was.

Victor Garmendia was fantastic with a wide ranging club juggling & manipulation routine. He managed to cover the entire stage area in all three dimensions with his movement. Most dance & juggling acts are exactly that: dancing with juggling & there is a clear distinction between the two, but Victor really combined the two forms into one. The Pinky & the Brain references in the music pleased Tim no end as well.

The Crawley show has built up a reputation for presenting really good aerial acts. Continuing the tradition this year were the very beautiful Amber Reed & Emily Dixon, collectively known as Hiccup, on the double trapeze. From the prefestival show lineup announcement I was expecting a comedy act. However, from the start the pair were so smooth & confident & performing really high end stuff, in spite of the bizarre naked man in a towel holding a pineapple love interest I was convinced that the original announcement must have been incorrect & this was a serious act. But then the twist came with perfect comic timing. Very funny & fantastically performed.

Victor & Guillermo returned after their solo spots as The Hitmen, a club passing duo with wonderfully over the top Spanish gangster personas. Guillermo did especially well to cope with a big technical failure which went on & on without breaking character. The passing & juggling was very good but what really stood out was the excellent clowning. The comic handslapping & club execution set pieces were hilarious.

Acrobats Massi Rosseti & Tiago Fonseca were on fine form & are obviously two naturally funny guys. Massi's pompous tai chi contrasted very well with Tiago's frantic disco dancing. After falling out there was lots of spectacular somersaulting based acrobatics. I didn't like the 'interlude' in the middle of the act, I was left wondering what was going on, but they stormed back with a loud high energy disco dancing finish with lots of hand to hand balances with more somersaults & exciting stumbling catches. Top stuff!

Closing the show was the sensational Craig Reid with an Elvis themed hula hoop act that ticked every box there is to tick. The music was a well put together medley of Elvis hits. The costume, makeup, hair & every facial expression was the very best that the art of Elvis impersonation has to offer. The spangly gold hoops screamed Las Vegas glitz & the whole ensemble was exceptionally camp. In terms of tricks there was something for everyone from the very technical one hoop isolation while spinning a hoop on the same arm in the opposite direction & spinning four hoops independently around the knees, hips, chest & hand to the crowd pleasing spin loads of hoops all at once. It was an amazing performance & I didn't notice a hoop, foot or hair out of place throughout. I loved every second of it.

Renegade

The standard of heckling this year was superb, possibly due to the whole range of themes available to draw on for punnage. We had James Bond films from the festival theme, Elvis songs thanks to Craig in the main show & food thanks to Richard. Well done every one, it was possibly the first renegade I have ever been to without recalling a single shout of, "It can't be done".

The anonymous Baghead turned up regularly throughout the evening to perform various technical diabolo tricks while wearing a bag on his head.

Beth did two demonstration spots. The first was a showcase of face hooping, where she span a full adult hula hoop around her neck then up onto her face before catching it between her teeth. The initial exploratory attempts were much funnier & I think it was easier to appreciate the end result when you knew how much blood had gone into the rehearsals. She also demonstrated unicycling while wearing an enormous sleeping bag type outfit that made her look like a giant banana, or an extremely jaundiced Michelin man.

Bungle coaxed the audience into a couple of Mexican wave themed shenanigans before being held upside down with his head in a bucket & juggling three balls. He came on again later for a masochistic spot that saw his 'friends' shooting at targets stapled to his body with a BB gun.

The French™ did a couple of spots, ducks featured heavily. I didn't understand it at all, but hey, they're French. Steve did some very nice tricks with ladels & stage balls, finishing with a tricky three ball cascade with the balls caught & thrown between two ladels. Massi & Tiago from the gala show demonstrated a few acro tricks whilst wearing a blindfold which was terrifying.

As ever, it's a shame it is such a long time until the next one.