The Circus Abyssinia Troupe comes to London’s Underbelly festival:
Following Circus Abyssinia Troupe’s smash hit run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017 and their appearance on ITV’s Royal Variety Performance, I was very excited to be invited to the opening show of their joyous production of Ethiopian Dreams at London’s Underbelly Festival on London’s Southbank. The troupe was founded in 2005 and trained by former Ethiopian gymnast coach Solomon Tadese. Most of its members joined as children, so there is a wonderful span of ages and a charming sense of camaraderie and jubilation amongst them, which make it’s a perfect show for all the family.
‘Circus Abyssinia’ through the language of circus tells the story of two little Ethiopian brothers, Bibi and Bichu, a part autobiographical, part fictional tale of their dream of joining the circus. In truth at the ages of 13 and 14 years old, these boys discovered their extraordinary talent for juggling and came to England in 1998 as part of one of the first Ethiopian troupes to tour Europe, performing to rave reviews and critical acclaim at Brighton Fringe. They returned in 1999 to make their home in England, and to pursue their shared childhood dream of joining the circus and becoming world-class jugglers.
The Tesfamariam brothers have come together with Circus Abyssinia Troupe to create this extraordinarily triumphant show, which encompasses their phenomenal juggling act alongside the troupe’s astonishing range of dazzling circus skills.
The show opens on the full company in glorious vibrant costumes performing an exhilarating dance to a rich African soundscape, leading into some jaw-dropping acrobatics, where the two youngest boys effortlessly hand-vault and somersault from one body to another creating ever-growing human towers.
I was nothing short of amazed by the two girls dressed in snakeskin bodysuits who contorted into the most sinuous animalistic shapes and positions. Later joined by two more female artists, where together they created a remarkable, colourful display of spinning cloths whilst balancing on each other’s bodies.
Bibi and Bichu’s astounding juggling act is perfectly executed; together they juggle numerous batons in a beautiful synchronized routine and somehow seem to make it all look so effortless.
Daniel performs a silent clown act which adds a bit of humour to the evening especially when he invites members of the audience to join him on stage and participate in his routine, I’m just glad it wasn’t me!
The finale saw eight male acrobats rig two giant poles before our eyes from which they performed an astonishing Chinese pole act, catapulting themselves with incredible strength and breathtaking effect up and down the poles, dropping and soaring in a display of thrilling one-upmanship.
This 14 strong troupe of contemporary circus artists and physical theatre performers have created a show, which amazes as much as it entertains. It is full of infectious, celebratory spirit, dance, acrobatics and mesmerising bodily feats of wonder. This show is suitable for all ages and in such a great setting on London’s thriving Southbank, which makes it a perfect, fun night out.
Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams
Underbelly Southbank Festival, London, SE1 8XX
Dates: Fri 6 April – Sun 2o May, (not 11th April), 7.30pm (6 April – 2 May, Tues-Fri), 7.45pm 3 – 20 May, Tues-Fri) 3pm & 6pm (Sat), 6pm (Sun)
Prices: from £14 previews, £19.50 weekdays, £23.50 weekends
Tickets available via The Underbelly