GIFFORDS Circus has been entertaining families in the Cotswolds for 13 years. Now the owners will share the magic of their village show with shoppers at the iconic London department store Selfridges.
Kate Wilson was given a preview of the show before it hit the shop floor and left understanding why it’s called ‘the greatest show on earth’.
WHEN I think of the circus I think big – I think lions, elephants and acrobats who fly through the air on trapezes spinning and flipping in all different directions.
This is not what I saw when I was invited for a sneak peek preview of Giffords winter show at their headquarters in Bourton-on-Water.
Instead I witnessed something much more traditional that was akin to a 20th century village green performance and yet I was overwhelmed by the wonderful simplicity of the show that kept me laughing throughout.
Toti and Nell Gifford’s vision of a miniature village green circus designed for rural families and farmers, has taken on a new challenge entertaining shoppers at the Oxford Street department store in the run up to Christmas – all be it without the show’s staple feature, it’s animals.
“Even though we can’t use our famous horses in the show we have still tried to bring some of the early 20th century magic back to the department store,” said Toti.
Juggling duo Bibi and Bichu are the only two members of the cast who have done any kind of street performing before so are quite prepared to deal with a crowd who may be more concerned with last minute Christmas shopping rather than the performance.
However, as I watch the pair catch juggling clubs on their heads and balance them on their noses while their fellow cast members perform snippets of songs from the great Russian composers, I am certain that this group of performers will have no problem drawing in the crowds.
The cast is performing a 15-minute show twice every hour, seven days a week on the fourth floor of Selfridges until Christmas Eve. A replica Big Top has been created by the Giffords’ art team to give visitors the feel of being at the circus, rather than a top end department store.
Director Cal McCrystal said that although they would be doing nearly 250 performances every show would be different. And as I left the make-shift Big Top near Folly Farm fully wrapped up in the Giffords magic I found myself wondering if I could catch the next show in London.