Review: Avalon by Giffords Circus ★★★★★

Review: Avalon by Giffords Circus ★★★★★

Giffords Circus prove once again that magic really does exist with Avalon: the unmissable medieval circus party that we all need right now.

Avalon is the 2024 touring show from circus legends Giffords, and is sure to excite fans of Arthurian folk tales and rollicking romance – plucking references from the Sword in the Stone and the tales of the Knights of the Roundtable to wrap around some dazzling acrobatic displays. Join vocalist Nell O’Hara’s impressive Guinevere for a mystical musical journey through the middle ages punctuated by circus acts which will leave you bamboozled and in stitches.

Nick Hodge as King Arthur in Giffords Circus
Nick Hodge as King Arthur in Giffords Circus

The live music drives the set pieces of traditional circus – like hula hooping, or the Cyr wheel – up to a frenzied finale of fun for everyone. You cannot resist the pulsating beats of the live band, who really make the difference compared to other touring circus’s with their usual, tinny backing tracks. Director and writer Cal McCrystal drums physicality into every beat so the feats, tricks and comic falls are a symphony of movement and sound.

Acts wise there is something new in each performance, which for even the biggest circus fan will surprise and delight. Dylan and Asia Medini are spectacular in their multiple acts, from hooping and balancing to stunt roller skating. Clever routines from accomplished clown Tyler West brings a risky camp sensibility to a family audience, and Maximiliano Stia’s magician Merlin adds a tongue-in-cheek pizzazz. The standout technical circus skills, though, come from Morgan Barbour and Victoria Sejr, who are bewildering as Damsels of the Ring, their bodies becoming extensions of their elevated apparatus to thrilling effect.

Giffords Circus Morgan Barbour and Victoria Sejr Photo by Andy Payne
Giffords Circus Morgan Barbour and Victoria Sejr Photo by Andy Payne

Animals are always part of the Giffords show, but only the beautiful chaos of the dog agility act really proved that animals should be part of the repertoire. The prancing donkey routine is cute, but doesn’t add a whole heap of wow. The show perhaps needs slightly more of a clear narrative arc, with a few more character-driven angles, but the bare-bones message that everyone can be a knight (hero) sang through to kids and adults alike.

Think you know circus? Think again and dive into Avalon a world of fantasy and fun at Giffords.