Dr Clive’s Circus started out at last year’s Burning Man festival and came to London for their one-off show highlighting its Heavy Petting Zoo, an unusual crew composed of circus favourites plus some bizarre additions.
Although there were no animals, all the humans took the “zoo” element to heart. If we were wearing one, we would have taken our hats off to all the amazing costumes. Outside, Venusians with fancy headdresses entertained guests and a fortune teller sold glimpses of the future for a fiver.
The performers took the theme seriously too: a contortionist lady in a cow costume emerged from a suitcase, a tigerlike clad chanteuse gave us electro-tinged torch songs and a rope dancer vertically cavorted in a leopard-print catsuit and high heels. An elephantine rapper with musical stylings reminiscent of Goldie Looking Chain took us inside the world of Community Support Officers, a devilish poet began with the inimitable opener “Inflammation of the foreskin/reminds me of your smile” and even Dr Clive as ringmaster got in on the act with a lengthy lizard’s tail emerging between his legs (easy, now).
Guest performers were of varying quantity. Hoop-queen and headliner Marawa’s brief performance consisted of about five minutes of skillful hula dancing while Ruby Deshabille (the clue’s in the name) did a short-but-sexy shuck-and-jive sandwiched between two large feather fans.
Chrisalys, on the other hand, arrived in convincing animal prosthetics and a PVC pinny as Mr Piggy and put on a stonking tour de force which encompassed by turns food-flinging, downing in one go an entire bottle of (possibly) wine and some really rather good fire-eating. From the front of his trousers, he produced link after link of sausages and, from the rear, a (presumably) chocolate-covered “butt plug” attached to his curly tail. For us, he was (definitely) the star of the night and worth catching wherever he pops up next.
There is more circus at the Arcola Tent this week with the Kitchen Sink Circus Cabaret. Tickets are £10
All photos (c) Lisa Thomson