By Anna Suller
As a kid I experienced some pretty cringingly bad circus viewing, so bad in fact it made me want to disappear into my mum’s handbag (unfortunately it was the 80s so her handbag was fashionably tiny) and I became scarred with ‘circus nerves’. Fast forward 38 years and there I was with my kids in the Sub Rooms waiting for the “The Circus Sonas - Family Show” to begin… I just kept telling myself “It’s for the kids, it’s for the kids…”
However, I needn’t have worried because it was joyful from the moment the show started (which stopped my urge to look for handbags to hide in). The father and son act from Northern Ireland are beardy, kilt-wearing, witty clowns who gave us a light-hearted slice of the circus aimed at younger kids and families. Martin (father) and Logy (son) were highly skilled at connecting with the audience from the get-go, their warmth and perfectly pitched silliness (with each other and us) created joyful energy that the kids lapped up.
Their act consisted of playful juggling (is there any other kind?), diablo, hat, and block tricks, all of which were delivered with a healthy dose of joking and music. This was not a high-tension show (although at one point I did squirm when Martin made his beard disappear), this show was very much the clowning around part of the circus except there wasn’t one honking horn or bucket in sight – thankfully! It wasn’t perfect, mistakes were made, but it was perfectly funny. For me, the pair sum up modern clowning beautifully whilst encouraging you to appreciate their skill and laugh at their mistakes.
My kids are 11 (still in primary) and 7, and to be honest I think the show was just inside the line for my eldest. If he were a bit older and too cool for school I’m not sure he would have been able to stay off his phone for the whole hour. However, if he had Martin would have (quite rightly) called him out and made a joke of it, as he did with the lady in the front row who closed her eyes at one point. Not much got past them – beware adults in the front row!
My youngest loved it, she joined in with everything, called out, cheered and giggled lots. She’s quite a shy kid so the fact she was calling out is a testament to how at ease Martin and Logy made us all feel. I think their knack was to make us feel naturally included so it was easy to let go of any ‘please don’t make me join in’ audience inhibitions.
The energy levels in the show were pitched at younger kids, as are most circus acts, having said that the adults were certainly made to feel involved and I too, Ms Circus Nerves Herself, joined in, called out and cheered.
To my mind the strength of Martin and Logy’s show was their audience repour, their wit, charm and silliness really stood out. However, when asking my kids about it after, they joyfully recalled a lot of the actual tricks which I guess is the sign of a good family show – something for the adults and something for the kids.
The show advertises at 6 plus, but I saw children that looked about 4ish having a great time and with the show only being an hour, younger kids won’t get fidgety.
After the show they stayed behind for pictures and gave out signed posters, one of which is now on my daughter’s wall (but she used sticky tape so I can kiss those parts of the wallpaper goodbye).
A note from the eldest: Everyone felt included, the diablos were cool and it was fun to watch.
A note from the youngest: It was a very funny, loud and kind show. I liked the hat tricks, especially the ‘5 flip hat trick’ which was really silly and I liked that they can’t count properly*.
*a performance ‘can’t count’ thing, rather than an ‘Oh my God they actually can’t count find me a handbag to climb into’ thing.