REVIEW: The Wing Scuffle Spectacular (Revel Puck Circus)

There’s something about circus. As a wise blogger* once said: “From sweet treats to death defying feats, nothing makes you feel quite as satisfyingly sick as circus”. Revel Puck Circus quite literally revel in this feeling in their first post-lockdown show, The Wing Scuffle SpectacularA celebration of fear. Mummy and the munchkins headed along to Leyton Jubilee Park this weekend to catch them in action.

Billed as “a celebration of fear” The Wingscuffle Spectacular definitely does what it says on the tin. There is nothing overly glitzy or pretentious about Revel Puck Circus. What you get from this contemporary circus troupe is a down to earth demonstration of some seriously impressive skills, with limited attempts to razzle dazzle the audience with lycra and sequins (except juggler Luke Hallgarten who rocks his leotard!) They play up to the fear factor and make it clear that they are doing hard and sometimes scary stuff, including some awesome circus skills that you won’t see in any other big top this summer like teeterboard, cloud swing and tightwire. And an act involving a chainsaw which the munchkins found absolutely terrifying. Mummy had to hold Quaver’s hand until that one was over!

Luke Hallgarten. Credit: Tekla Szöcs

Even before they step into the grounds, audiences are immersed in the quirky world of circus, with performers greeting them from atop the entrance sign, a van and even the big top itself! It’s a friendly venue where everyone is given a warm welcome before heading past the village of caravans (via the bar and popcorn stand of course!) and into the tent (where seating remains socially distanced).

The relaxed vibe continues throughout the show itself, which has a rather street act feel to it in places rather than the big, brassy show that you might have come to expect in a big top. That’s not to say that it is under-rehearsed or poorly put together, but rather that the joy of watching this particular brand of circus is in seeing performers push themselves to their limits, even at the risk of getting things wrong. And in the cases where it does take a few attempts to pull off a trick, the audience is almost more appreciative, having witnessed the effort it took to get there. A particularly good example of this was an act which can only be described as an absolutely massive rola bola. If you have ever had a go on any sort of balance board, you will know that they are a lot harder than they look. We have never attempted a rola bola (the kind that involves a piece of wood balanced precariously on a roller) but we assume that this is probably harder than the plastic balance board with sticky bits on the bottom that the munchkins have to play on. Now imagine a ridiculously oversized version involving a really big bit of wood plonked on top of two giant tyres. Or just look at the picture below. And if you think it looks hard enough already, this wasn’t even the really impressive bit!….

Credit: Tekla Szöcs

Despite running at just over an hour, the show packs in plenty of different circus skills meaning that there is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy, from the aerial antics of Annie Zita on the cloud swing and Imani Vital on aerial straps, to a love story between motorcyclist lion and a unicycling clown (Sam Goodburn). The munchkins both absolutely loved “the lady who did the cartwheels on the hula hoop” (Fiona Thornhill on cyr wheel) while Mummy (who once made it across the tightrope at the local trampoline park by running half way and then chucking herself to safety) was very impressed by Polly Plowman’s twinkle toes on the tightrope.

Teeterboard trio Seb Parker, Shane Hampden and Emily Lannigan were a bit hit with the audience, with a routine that really played up to the fear theme and had small children shouting “don’t do it, you’ll hurt yourself”! This quickly turned into mob mentality with the audience shouting “do it, do it”, resulting in Mummy having horrible flashbacks to the time when we had to abandon an inflatable assault course and spend an afternoon in Slough A&E after peer pressuring a friend to jump onto an airbag from a great height! Thankfully, it turns out that Emily Lannigan actually knows what she’s doing and is more than capable of leaping from a precarious looking diving board onto a giant seesaw, hurling Seb Parker into the air in the process.

Credit: Harry Wilson

In the week where Olympic superstar Simone Biles has been forced to pull out of several events after a bout of “the twisties”, it feels appropriate to showcase how at the heart of acrobatic excellence there is always an ordinary human pushing their limits to do difficult and dangerous things. We had an awesome time at The Wing Scuffle Spectacular and would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking to see some very cool people doing some super impressive stuff, but not being afraid to admit that it’s scary! As a bonus, there is also an excellent playground right next door to the big top where children (and adventurous adults) can push their own boundaries after the show.

The Wing Scuffle Spectacular plays at Leyton Jubilee Park from Thursday 29th July to Sunday 8th August 2021. We received complimentary tickets to the matinee performance on Sunday 1 August.

*Ok, yes, that was us in a previous review. But we liked how it sounded so we thought we’d say it again.