Circus Abyssinia’s Ethiopian Dreams review: The show had many amazing moments

PUBLISHED: 09:36 14 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:36 14 July 2019

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams. Picture: Audrey Petrov

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams. Picture: Audrey Petrov

Audrey Petrov

If you’ve ever stopped to wonder just how much energy, dexterity and flexibility the human body is capable of then Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams will give you a pretty good idea.

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams. Picture: Audrey PetrovCircus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams. Picture: Audrey Petrov

The show put-on by a 15-strong troupe under the big top at Norwich's Chapelfield Gardens as part of its summer circus line-up is said to be the first such performance made for and by Ethiopian artists.

And with no benchmark to work from - domestically at least - this felt like a group of talented young people finding their way, trying new things and building a show that works.

The prologue frames the action - loosely - around the story of brothers Bibi and Bichu, whose dream of joining the circus is made real by the Man in the Moon.

Cut to a series of ever-more-impressive circus acts that alternate between the energetic and the engrossing.

Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams. Picture: Andrew ReesCircus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams. Picture: Andrew Rees

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First there's a man hoisted up onto another's shoulders, then a third is thrown on top of his shoulders.

Next a pair of women emerge walking on arms and legs - upside down - before a series of contortions and arabesques that push the boundaries of organic elasticity.

There follows a couple of jaunty juggling acts, mat spinning, more bendiness, some literal jumping through hoops and a grand finale where everything comes together along with climbing and sliding tricks on a pair of 10 metre high wooden poles.

Ethiopian tunes ranging from tribal rhythms to rock numbers accompany each section - keeping the tempo fresh and the audience guessing.

The show had many amazing moments but my overall impression was one of fun.

These performers clearly love what they're doing and it's infectious, and as they start the clapping before another bout of body throwing you can't help but smile and clap along as well.

- Chapelfield Summer Circus concludes today (Sunday, July 14).

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