Giffords Circus – Xanadu
Chiswick House & Gardens
Reviewed – 27th June 2019
“Witnessing the performers having as much fun as we, the audience, created a special bond through the shared experience”
Giffords Circus was started in the Cotswolds in 2000 by Nell and Toti Gifford. Its latest production, Xanadu comes to Chiswick Park this summer. Directed by Cal McCrystal, Xanadu is an interpretation of the poem ‘Kubla Khan’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Written in 1797 and published in 1816, Kubla Khan is a dream-like, epically depicted verse, full of romanticism and beautiful imagery. Giffords Circus uses these themes and takes us down a rabbit hole, back in time, to a fantasy world full of peace and love.
On entry you’re greeted by the ornately costumed front of house and are lead into a wonderland adorned with fairy lights and flowers. There is a sense as though the circus has been waiting here, all along, just for you to arrive.
Food is on hand at the Circus Sauce Restaurant to munch on before descending into the Big Top where the audience are greeted by Tweedy and Mr Fips; a cheeky comedy duo often getting into trouble and roping the audience into their hilarious capers along the way.
Dressed as a glittering hippy master of ceremonies, Michael Fletcher guides the audience through a journey full of acrobatics, equestrian acts, aerial gymnastics and performances that are an awesome spectacle to see. All accompanied by the The Band, playing songs that transported us back to the decades of Woodstock and rock n roll.
There isn’t one act that could be singled out as a favourite. Each were incredible and utterly arresting in their own way. The commitment to present a show of pure quality is clear to see on the expressions of every participant. Their smiles and genuine laughter was very contagious. Witnessing the performers having as much fun as we, the audience, created a special bond through the shared experience. Moments like this are beautifully unique and unforgettable.
What makes this production special is the ambiance felt the moment you entered. The warmth and friendliness of everyone is palatable and guests are made to feel part of the Gifford family. McCrystal directs a show inspired by an 18th century poem and avoids making it feel abstract or esoteric. It respectfully nods to aspects of the poem and captures the reverie-like state, which perforates throughout the text. The result is a haven of joyful escapism. Psychedelic, magical mayhem filled with flower power, good vibes and unadulterated fun for all ages.
Reviewed by Pippin
Photography by Gem Hall
Giffords Circus – Xanadu
Chiswick House & Gardens until 8th July then tour continues until 29th September