Roll up, roll up, the circus is in town, but not as you may know it, with no clowns or live animals. Circus 1903 (Southbank Centre), directed by Neil Dorward, recalls the great days of this entertainment in the big top, adding some neat twists to the traditional format.
Alongside wry, mock-Edwardian style showman cum ringmaster Willy Whipsnade there are breathtaking skills on display from The Great Rokardy's vertiginous hand-balancing to the aerial acrobatics of The Flying Fredonis. The self-explanatory "Elastic Dislocationist" gives a whole new meaning to "making ends meet", with an amazing ability to contort a human body into remarkable poses and positions.
Other treats include the furious flexible feats of Russian rolling ball hula hoopist Mademoiselle Natalia and The Magnificent Marvellos who made everyone hold their breath with their Wheel of Death routine, somersaulting on top of two giant spinning hamster wheels.
But undoubtedly the stars of the show are the charming life-sized puppet elephants from the team behind War Horse.
Apart from some entertaining stories from the ringmaster between acts, lucky children get to go on stage to help him perform some amazing magic and at the performance I attended one cute, curly-haired three-year-old girl captured everyone's hearts.
This is a show which creates a genuine feeling of nostalgia and is imbued with a similar sense of humour. If you are looking for true festive cheer in a spectacle that will appeal to young and old alike, you could do no better!
Runs until January 5.
Box office: 020 3879 9555.Last modified: April 6, 2021