Cirque De L’Extraordinaire Review

CONSTANCE CHAPMAN really wanted to love this show, but it just didn’t come together on the night.

ADC ADC theatre cambridge Cambridge Circus Comedy

I very much admire the ambition of this project which pulls out all the stops to entertain the audience with acrobats, dancers and a huge team of comedians. 

Unfortunately, all this paraphernalia which was there to support the sketch comedy came off rather as an attempt to distract the audience from material that just wasn’t consistently funny.

The opening dialogue between the four main comedians (Guy Emanuel, Sam Grabiner, Jordan Mitchell and Theo Wethered) set the pace for the rest of the show: slow.  The premise of Cirque De L’Etraordinaire relied on these four carrying the piece, as the four sketch comedians who are called in at the last minute to save the failing circus after the unexpected death of their leader Cosmo L’Extraordinaire. Some sketches were strong; their portrayal of the transition from NYE 1959 to the beginning of the ’60s had the audience laughing and special mention must go to Guy Emanual for his hilarious portrayal of Mary, the downtrodden fifties housewife.

Credit: Johannes Hjorth

 

The cast is filled with talented performers and I particularly enjoyed a lot of physical comedy on display from the likes of Sasha Brooks as the claustrophobic contortionist, and Jamie Armitage as a clown, hopelessly in love with the aerialist. This latter sketch started off well, however, pacing was a big problem which, coupled with a poorly looped sound track left the audience more uncomfortable than amused.

Credit: Johannes Hjorth

Tom Fairbairn and Rob Oldham performed a good sketch about a boxer psyching himself up for his fight with a grizzly bear. These two never fail to delight with their sharp writing and off the wall humour, however, the second half of the sketch fell somewhat flat and they too were lacking in their usual panache. The same could be said of Orlando Gibbs, who was similarly off his, usually sterling, form. He had the audience laughing with a bizarre sketch about his minute friend but it was his strength as a performer, rather than the script, which carried him through.

Credit: Johannes Hjorth

The best parts of this show were when the whole cast were onstage. These were the few moments where the energy was high, and they were able to achieve the spectacle which was clearly the vision for the show. You will observe from the photos (shot by the genius that is Johannes Hjorth) that there were some beautiful moments, and some very talented performers, which made it all the more disappointing that Cirque De L’Extraordinaire didn’t quite fall into place as a whole.

Credit: Johannes Hjorth

That said, I have no doubt that the talent and vision of the team behind this production is enough for there to be significant improvement across the run. I think that by Saturday evening, the audience will be seeing a very different show to the one that opened last night. The pacing issues can be easily remedied with a little more practise and some tweaks to the material should be enough to lift some sketches which have the potential to be very funny.

All the right ingredients are there, but last night Cirque De L’Extraordinaire was only half-baked.

57%, 2.2