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Stunning show takes circus to new heights


Circolombia, Queen of Flanders spiegeltent, Assembly Festival Garden, Coventry, until 31 July.


By Peter Walters.

(Photo Roberto Ricciuti)

Wild enthusiasm is not something you see every day from a Coventry audience, but this crowd was on its feet yelling as the finale sounded on the opening night of the Circolombia show at the city's beguiling new central venue, the Assembly Festival Garden. Bathed in sweat, the performers looked pretty chuffed too. This was their first public performance in more than a year and their heady circus mix of acrobatics, dance, aerialist manoeuvres and throbbing Columbian rap had clearly gone down a storm.

Close up, this circus lark is a pretty serious business, as, faces masked in concentration, tumblers and aerial performers risked life and limb to defy gravity. But the choreography that took them through their hour-long show had a joyful not to say humorous edge to much of it, and they made it all look so easy.

That said, the Queen of Flanders herself might have been the star of the show. The thousand-seater centrepiece of the assembly garden is to your average event marquee what the Albert Hall is to a village hall. Its interior, somewhere between a Wild West saloon and an up-market coffee house in old Amsterdam, complete with galleries, mirrors and panelling, creates an extraordinary space for performance. I'm not sure Coventry has ever seen anything quite like it and it's certainly one of the must-sees of this City of Culture summer.

Tickets from www.assemblyfestivalgarden.com or on 0131 623 3033.