The Revel Puck Circus review – down-to-earth acrobatics lack dramatic edge

The good stuff first: a young touring circus pitching their tent in less obvious places, a likable DIY sensibility, a bouncy bunch of performers and some real skills on show. There’s Fiona Thornhill’s cyr wheel: it’s one woman and a giant hoop, and she finds a multitude of things to do with it, changing up the rhythm, spinning like a coin or in endless cartwheels. There’s impressive wire walker Poppy Plowman, nonchalantly doing the splits on her tightrope. And what’s not to love about the teeterboard: a giant seesaw that launches bodies into the sky in all manner of somersaults.

But some of the acts and certainly the show as a whole lack a real arc. The Wing Scuffle Spectacular is billed as “a celebration of fear”, but there’s little in the way of dramaturgy or jeopardy. The setups and skits don’t carry to the back of the tent, the pace is off. Sometimes there’s a mismatch between sound and vision: the climax sees Annie Zita swooping joyously to the roof on a cloud swing, a great grin on her face, while the rest of the performers sing the hymn-like Hard Times Come Again No More, pitched a little low, with the air of a school assembly.

The Revel Pucks are deliberately unflashy and down to earth, but – much like spending an hour doing your makeup to look like you’re wearing no makeup – their show needs a bit more underpinning to seem effortless. Still, it’s early days for the company, only launched in 2019 and interrupted by the pandemic; there’s no doubt more to come. Not one to trek across town for, but a fun outing if you’re local.

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