Pros: A great, feel-good alternative to the usual Christmas show.
Cons: The show is aimed at younger audiences, so adult spectators might experience a persistent background chatter, as well as little feet kicking the back of their seats . . .
Not wanting to sound like Scrooge, I must admit I’m not a Christmas enthusiast. My family lives over a thousand miles away from me and, during the ten years I’ve been in London I’ve developed a blunt disinterest towards a celebration that would cost me hundreds of pounds in plane tickets alone. This must be one of the reasons why a circus performance over an overtly Christmassy panto theme appeals to me; the former reminds me of the time spent with my dad as a child watching The Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival on TV.
With it’s feel-good celebration of family life and cute, almost cartoonish visuals, The Ramshackle House at Stratford Circus Arts Centre is aimed at very young audiences, but can also cater for adults who wish to pass a cheerful hour during the festive season. Its stylised and speech-free plot is subtle enough to reward attentive spectators whilst possibly escaping children’s interpretation.
A man (Renato Dias) is living happily in his little house when a woman (Delia Ceruti) lands on his roof. Using a bunch of ropes, she leaves the trapeze where she’s been perching since the beginning of the show to join the man who, initially, doesn’t seem inclined to company. Her strength and suppleness are equally astonishing during an entertaining piece influenced by clowning techniques.
Eventually, things between them work out well and, after a romantic interlude, a third character (Matthew Smith) appears on scene. He disrupts the couple’s blissful state, adding pressure and demands to those who’d appear to be his parents.
When the sunshine, artfully recreated by lighting designer Daniella Beattie, gives way to the rain, Dias is left outside the house to provide for the safety of his family. His number at the trapeze is elegant and displays good attention to detail.
With an emphasis on handstands, accompanied by James Atherton’s uplifting soundtrack, the last act presented by Smith brings the show to its conclusion and sends an important and positive message. Together, the trio has achieved much more than the individual.
Regretfully, my amazement and awe for the acrobatics was affected not so much by the relentless background chatter as by the little feet repeatedly kicking my backrest. On one occasion my companion got accidentally hit by a young acrobat, who was training for a new number under the placid supervision of her grandmother.
For this reason, The Ramshackle House might not appeal to those who lack unwavering patience and empathy but, overall, is a happy and playful introduction to circus, supported by skilled artists and well-executed numbers.
Conceived and Directed By: Vicki Amedume
Composition and Sound By: James Atherton
Box Office: 020 8279 1080
Booking Link: https://stratford-circus.com/event/the-ramshackle-house/#data-sc-tabs-alt-index%3D%220%22=tickets&tickets=
Booking Until: 24 December 2017