MENTION immigration – if you say anything against it, you're labelled a racist, anything for it and you're told you're not a realist. In fact if I was debating this subject I could happily make a case for both sides. So it was with interest I visited the Bike Shed to see how writer Shaun MacCarthy handled it, and he did it brilliantly, using an all British circus as a microcosm of Britain today.
I was also fascinated to see how director David Lockwood would transform a 60-seater basement theatre into a Big Top with a trapeze act.
Circus Britanica is the story of an ageing and failing circus getting deeper into debt, not able to find British acts and having to take on eastern bloc performers who they know don't have the correct papers.
The part of the owner/ringmistress Sarah is played superbly by Sophia Thierens. The show starts with all the fun of the circus, juggling, tumbling, clowns, live music and magic.
Jos Vantyler who plays Stevie gives an outstanding performance as a student taking a gap year by running away to the circus.
The immigrants are made up of Zoltan (Joseph Carey) and Besnik (Andy Kelly) who make an endearing double act.
Then there is Jofranka played by Jenny May Morgan who is wonderful in this very demanding role as a Muslim Gypsy. Lastly there is Dave, probably the hardest part in the play. A man who loves his job as a tumbler in the circus but who's now suffering a number of injuries that are going to end his career. Tom Sherman gives an incredible performance.
Circus Britanica runs until June 18