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A Circus Carol, Norwich Playhouse review: A charming pick-me-up of a show

PUBLISHED: 18:33 14 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:30 16 December 2019

Lost in Translation Circus team during rehearsals for A Circus Carol. Matthew Green as Marley perfects his juggling, with Lawrence Swaddle as Scrooge. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Lost in Translation Circus team during rehearsals for A Circus Carol. Matthew Green as Marley perfects his juggling, with Lawrence Swaddle as Scrooge. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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Dicken’s classic festive tale is given a lively and captivating revamp in this intriguing new production.

The Lost in Translation Circus team as they prepare for their production of A Circus Carol. From left, front row, Natasha Rushbrooke, Roisin Morris, and Matthew Green. Back, Sara Berni, Lawrence Swaddle, Massimiliano Rossetti, and Annabel Carberry. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe Lost in Translation Circus team as they prepare for their production of A Circus Carol. From left, front row, Natasha Rushbrooke, Roisin Morris, and Matthew Green. Back, Sara Berni, Lawrence Swaddle, Massimiliano Rossetti, and Annabel Carberry. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Taking a tumble across the road from their Oak Street base, Norwich circus troupe Lost in Translation have made the most of the intimate Norwich Playhouse stage to create a show packed with aerial and chain work, juggling, gymnastics, and balance.

There is also a lot of humour mixed in with the occasionally darker narrative of A Christmas Carol. The story is amended and abridged for the pacey 70-minute run - there's no sign of Cratchit or Tiny Tim - but it keeps true to the spirits of the original, with Scrooge (Laurence Swaddle) visited by the ghosts of Christmas past (Roisin Morris), present (Massimilano Rossetti), and future (Natasha Rushbrooke).

Dramaturg Kevin Toolis and director Rossetti do a good job of integrating circus elements and narrative - whether literally in Christmas past or more abstractly in the floor work of Christmas present. The aerial finale of 'future' is harder to place in the plot, but the visual razzle dazzle makes up for the momentarily-absent storyline.

Norwich-born Rushbrooke is impressive on the vertical hand canes, Morris and Rossetti are a delightful partnership in the aerial work, and Annabel Carberry is a master of the hoops. Swaddle and Matthew Green mesh perfectly in a juggling routine, with characterful supporting performances from Sara Berni throughout.

Peter Reynolds provides a live soundtrack to the show, combining electronica, traditional carols, and an eclectic mix of saxophone and accordion.

Overall this is a charming pick-me-up of a show, that makes you giggle and makes you gasp.

The compact run-time and £15 top ticket price make it a perfect treat to slip into a Christmas night out or a matinee break from hitting the shops. You'd have to be a real humbug not to leave with a smile.

- A Circus Carol continues at Norwich Playhouse until Saturday, December 21.

- Tickets are available from Norwich Playhouse's website

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