Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Classic Example of Kitsch Entertainment

Last night some friends and I went to see The Interstella Circus at the Spiegeltent, my only festival outing this year - apart from some Open Houses and of course the Great Escape last week (which I shall write about shortly). I suppose the mis-spelling of the word 'interstellar' should have been a clue as to the dodgy nature of the outfit, but it was my only free night, tickets were still available, and it was in one of my all-time favourite venues.

I've seen quite a few of these nu-circus type shows before - including the Caesar Twins, Le Grande Cirque, various acts at Lost Vagueness and other such nights, and the best of all by far, La Clique. Watching the incredible things acrobats and contortionists can do with their bodies never ceases to amaze and excite me, and I love the whole feel of a well executed sideshow cabaret. La Clique gets it so right with a wonderful mix of risque humour, seamless flow of acts and a great variety of talents. Unfortunately The Interstella Circus is nowhere near a well executed sideshow cabaret, nor did it posses any of these qualities.

From the moment the seedy compere came on stage reciting bad poetry not very well, it was clear that we were in for an evening of less than classy entertainment. To be fair to the individual acts, there were some impressive stunts and a few 'ooh' and 'ahh' moments, but where the show really fell down was during the links between acts. The re-rigging took much too long, without any adequate fill-in, leaving the audience shuffling uncomfortably in our seats.

Partly thanks to the beer consumed beforehand, and partly due to our collective appreciation of the more tawdry things in life, my friends and I were able to see the funny side. And to me personally it felt almost nostalgic, reminiscent of my summer season days in Eastbourne; an end-of-the pier nudge-nudge-wink-wink type show with more sequins than substance.

There is something strangely pleasing about this distinctly British variety of shabby entertainment, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. We laughed, perhaps not for the right reasons, but still. We almost cried in memory of Judy when the singer (although I am not sure she really qualifies for that title) started to growl her way through the finale number, Get Happy. We swooned at the token eye-candy's rippling biceps, though were disappointed when only his T-Shirt was removed. We loved every cheap and tacky moment of it.

La Clique it most certainly isn't, but if you're in the market for some seedy seaside frolics, you could do worse than to down a few pints and 'roll-up roll-up' to the Interstella Circus. But don't blame me if you are appalled; because that is really the point.


  1. I'm totally with you on the awe, the Spiegeltent, La Clique (& the descent into baying hen night at the sight of the man in the bath!) but have been disappointed with other things I've seen there.

    If you can get out again I would recommend NoFitState's Tabu show, down at Hove Lawns for the festival. It's what I imagined would happen if Nick Cave & Tom Waits sat down to proper afternoon tea and planned a circus...

  2. Great review Rowstar. If I go, I shall imbibe plenty of alcohol beforehand.

    Sadly, Tabu finished a couple of weeks back and it was EXCELLENT! The links were exceptionally smooth, part of the show!

  3. My review(s) of The Great Escape are found here if you fancy a peek...

    All the best,


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