The Moscow State Circus may currently be pitched up on the Downs, but there is only one circus in town worth visiting. Bristol’s very own The Invisible Circus are celebrating their 20th birthday with a show by the name of The Happiness Machine in the most imaginative use yet of the Big Top @ Creative Common behind Temple Meads.
For anyone who has been to a previous Invisible Circus show, most noticeably Carny Ville, the biggest surprise here is that there are seats, facing a row of houses.
We are in what at first glance looks like a typical town. But the residents of this town are anything but normal.
And they have a strange visitor in the name of a travelling salesman played by Doug Francis, wheeling himself about in a vehicle that is a cross between the Trojan Horse and the gypsy caravan from Magna Mysteria.
A cast of dozens moved freely around. At times it looked like they were dancing, most memorably as a team of posties delivered parcels to people in the houses.
Then there were the circus skills, everything from jumping between lampposts to sitting on a chair while balancing on a high wire. Scenes melted together as the action moved from the floor into the air.
The Invisible Circus call The Happiness Machine “a visual ballad of domestic rituals… a voyeur’s dream… (and) an absurd reflection of decadence and desire”.
It is all this and more, with a live musical score in perfect time with the performers on the stage, one of whom climbed out of a television like the child in Japanese horror film The Ring, but this time not intent on murder but selling some marigolds.
So take a seat for the circus, not the greatest show on earth but a show made here in Bristol which will make you gasp and make you think, a celebration of creativity in a big top full of all forms of life.
The Happiness Machine takes place between Thursday and Sunday until October 21. For more information, visit www.invisiblecircus.co.uk/events/.