Their debut show at the Fringe, Circus Abyssinia’s Ethiopian Dreams is an enchanting mix of upbeat and astonishing circus tricks and storytelling, at the centre of an African circus show.
The show’s backstory is this: two young Ethiopian brothers dream of joining the circus, and have that dream made real by the Man in the Moon. Performed from the perspective of a young Bibi and Bichu, played by Ezera Nigusse and AlemaYehu Mulugeta, through the language of circus; the show mixes autobiographical and fictional narratives to tell how the two brothers became world-class jugglers. They are joined by Addis Ababa’s Konjowoch Troupe circus school, made up of fourteen acrobats – ten men and four women.
Gravity-defying tumbling, mind-boggling gymnastics moves, impressive ten-baton juggling and dancing are the recipe that makes this circus such a delight to watch, all performed to a lively and infectious African soundtrack.
Twin-like African-print clad girls in unitards contort their bodies into unreal shapes and poses, with every bone of their anatomy visible. It’s distressing at the same time as being impressive. Two further female acrobats also join them for further balancing acts in a human tower of core strength and ridiculously elastic spines. It’s made to look so effortless, where in reality it’s not. The girls also weave a beautiful, poetic shadow dancing routine, which is a joy to behold.
Some impressive rigging from the troupe sees a finale where six of the male acrobats and Bibi and Bichu catapult themselves, climb and fall, around two poles. It’s a display of thrilling proportions combining ultimate strength, pure trust and immaculate timing.
Circus Abyssinia has all the ingredients for a great family show – great fun, hugely entertaining and infectiously upbeat.