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I’m not sure why The Insect Circus appealed to me but for some reason I was entranced by the little posters I saw round Hove, it all seemed delightfully anarchic and archaic at the same time. Well I wasn’t disappointed as it certainly fulfilled both of those descriptions. Held in the new Fringe venue, Fletch at St Andrews, The Insect Circus was a kooky and spooky update of side-show Victoriana.
But you certainly don’t need to fear these freaky bugs as it was definitely fun for all the family. The atmospheric church was full of little ones. I took my 14 month old son and he was by no means the youngest there, and yet there was no screaming or bored crying – just plenty of laughing and shouting out. My boy was mesmerised by most of it, scared by none of it and would have willingly powered up the aisle on all fours to join the pretty people on stage if he could have.
The acts all had a theme in that each was centred round an insect or insects. For example - charming flies that went from bustling around the audience to balancing on high stacked chairs, a motorised ladybird who watched her mistress twirling above her on red ribbons and large wild wasps who stung their tamer. There was also a brilliant bit of hand-puppetry courtesy of some dust mites making cups of tea.
Despite some amazing costumes and genuinely impressive aerial work, the circus part of the show felt slightly neglected and it seemed as if the insect theme had to be shoe-horned into what was going on sometimes - such as the praying mantises who distracted from the amazing hoop lady! Also some of the acts were obviously fillers and the charisma dipped a bit sometimes, but that’s a cynical adult speaking because the kids loved it and coming in at just over an hours performance it’s a perfect chunk of afternoons’ entertainment for them.
The Insect Circus is on at Fletch at St Andrews as part of the Brighton Fringe until 17th May