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  • Writer's pictureGraham Richardson

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams - Review and a note on standing ovations

Updated: Aug 22, 2018

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams

Underbelly's Circus Hub on the Meadows


There is almost no point in me reviewing this show.

I was recommended it by a friend, and from the very beginning I knew it would be as good as I thought. The Circus specific space is a perfect venue for this mix of acrobatics, juggling, contortion and dance.

Not only was I completely won over by the energy, passion and likability of the performers but I was impressed by how many types of circus acts that I had not seen before. The rug spinning was particularly impressive and beautiful while the 'floor juggling' was astounding complex and memorising. Special kudos goes to the hoop performer who cannot have been more than 15 years old, but won over the crowd immediately with her style, smile and skill.

The whole performance was backed up by a powerful soundtrack. Any time that the performers were not doing something mind-boggling impressive, they used it to dance, which kept both them and the crowd warm.

Whilst I often get nervous for the performers in circuses in case something goes wrong. However, not only did that happen rarely, but when it did it was expertly dealt with.

This is just a great show and I cannot recommend it to you enough. It gets a peregrine falcon and a gannet on my scale. It was impressive and wonderfully entertaining.

However, I have one think I want to add. When the performance finished and the clapping had finally died down, my mother turned to me and said that he was disappointed that they did not get a standing ovation. I felt the same way.

Standing ovations are an odd thing. I try to follow the rule that if I am compelled to stand up because a performance was so good, then I will do it. But in reality for me, and I expect a lot of other people, I wait until someone else does it first. Moreover, I have definitely felt forced to stand when everyone else has been doing it. This happens more often during super expensive performances of operas or plays when you may have to kid yourself into thinking that it was worth the exorbitant price tag.

Maybe I did not stand for Ethiopian Dreams because it did not move me. Maybe it was because no one else did. Maybe it was due to the time of day - audiences are notoriously more difficult to warm up in the afternoon rather than the evening.

I do not know the answer, but I have a plea. If a performance has moved you, has given you the energy to stand and applaud, it will make the world of difference to the performers when you do it.

It is so easy to dislike a performance and fake appreciation after a show in the name of politeness. This is something I detest. But in the moment at the end of a great piece, it is so much harder to lie. Listen to your urges and show the performers how much you have done for them in the last few minutes or hours. And if your urges tell you to stay sitting, stay sitting. A ovation from one audience member is still enough.

Be honest and do what you feel. It will make the world of difference.

So, Ethiopian Dreams, this is my (belated) ovation to you.




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