If you ever dreamt of a life with the circus, its glitter and camaraderie, the three-strong women’s circus company Circo Rum Ba Ba will make you cling to the romance. Julia Deli caught their imaginative and energetic production L’Hotel in Cardigan.
Marianne Grove, Winnie Elliott and Jenny Webster, the trio of women behind Circo Rum Ba Ba, pulled double duty at the Small World Theatre in Cardigan to start September. A matinee showing for their L’Hotel performance was packed with younger folk, an end-of-holidays treat – while the evening performance, for a crowd of all ages, proved their effervescent material appealed to wide tastes.
To maintain L’Hotel’s air of mystery, we can only report that you’ll see the largest piece of clothing in the world right next to the smallest hotel in the world, that cake MUST be eaten and kitchen antics will keep you on the edge of your seat!
Good-natured audience participation provokes wild laughter, while the mainstays of inspired clowning, beautiful handmade props and sets, and strenuous acrobatics are captivating. We’re all guests at L’Hotel, part of the farce, comedy and surprises: the seamless activity and ball-balancing lunacy are woven into an engaging story with moments of jeopardy and generosity, large and tiny reveals all part of the fantastical night.
Grove explains that she, Elliott and Webster are part of a larger all-women troupe based in Kent. “We spend April until December each year touring around the country, with three or more separate shows on the road at any one time, and we change shows and combinations of performers every few weeks, too.” Looking at Circo Rum Ba Ba’s website later, their costumes, staging and contraptions are mindbending – one, a 50-foot-long whale designed for people to go inside, can only be set up on beaches!
Keeping on their toes, the life of the circus, in reality, is of hard, physical training, moving from festivals to intimate venues, working together to finesse routines – but Grove, Elliott and Webster make it look effortless, maintaining the mystique. Grove mentions in passing an intergenerational workshop they’ve just completed, which brought GCSE students together with older people in a housing project, teaching circus skills and traditional forms of theatre, and the far-reaching effects it had.
Circo Rum Ba Ba are an idealistic and affectionate bunch. They set up camp, they called up a Universe, they made a mess and tidied up… and then the caravan moved on.
Circo Rum Ba Ba: L’Hotel, Small World Theatre, Cardigan, Fri 1 Sept
words JULIA DELI