Worthing Theatres’ Summer of Circus exemplifies the wondrous potential of the human body through incredible physical feats. We preview this weekend’s events.


Pavilion Theatre
Tonight, 8pm

THE publicity for Head First Acrobats’ show encourages potential audience members to “leave your man at home”.

It’s not hard to see how the physical attributes of the Australian group could be used as a selling point to members of the opposite sex. The press pictures of the show display the three young men semi-naked and glistening with sweat. The tagline for Elixir is “your summer just got hotter”. Tom Gorham says that while the show is sexy it’s more “grungy than glamorous”.

He adds that the “leave your man at home” line was thought up by a friend who came to see Elixir and was struck by the raw magnetism of the performers.

“That was the best way she thought we should market it,” says Tom. “The main response we tend to get is from hen nights and the gay crowd.” This is not to downplay the content of the show, which loosely follows three scientists as they attempt to create the elixir of life.

“It’s not just circus,” says Tom. “There’s a lot of music and acting too – those elements gel together naturally. At the end of the day, a circus performer is just an actor who does a handstand.”

The chemistry of the trio, who have been performing together since 2014 and impressed at this year’s Brighton Fringe, relies on their respective roles on stage. “I play an archetypal boss character, Rowan [Thomas] plays a very lovable clown with the audience on his side and Cal [Harris] plays a handsome fool,” says Tom. “It’s a very good team.”

As you might expect, Elixir is a pretty full-on show; and that’s just for the audience. The acrobats fly five metres into the air on a teeterboard, spin upside down on a wheel and balance on their heads on a trapeze.

For Tom and co, it’s a case of getting the right amount of rest before the chaos ensues. “We do a little warm up but if you’re doing a long run it’s best not to do too much exercise outside the show. If you practise for more than two or three hours it can be difficult.”

It’s a life of strict discipline but Tom wouldn’t have it any other way. “We’ve been travelling for three years and there have been some tough times. But it’s a blessing to travel around and make people laugh for a job.”

Acrojou: The Wheel House 
Broadwater Green,
tomorrow, 12pm

HAVE you ever wondered what a wheel house is in the circus world?

No, neither have we. But a new acrobatic show that literally revolves around a large wheel is proving a big hit with audiences, having garnered glowing critical reviews and toured across the world.

Acclaimed performance troupe Acrojou bring their unique production to Worthing as part of the town’s Summer of Circus programme tomorrow. The group’s artistic director Jeni Barnard – who invented the concept with creative director Barney White – said the idea arrived when Without Walls, a street art organisation, commissioned the troupe to come up with a piece that could move through an audience.

Jeni and Barney then went on to create the story behind The Wheel House. At the time, the two performers were feeling “rootless and disconnected” from the world. As a result, The Wheel House is about “migration and moving forward”.

After gaining rave reviews from The Times and The Evening Standard, Acrojou have gone on to tour the world with their promenade piece. The Wheel House is in a hand-built rolling set with incredible attention to detail in the form of found objects, picked up on the troupe’s travels.

Jeni says the challenge of creating a moving performance (in more ways than one) is considerable and that the nuance of the wheel has to be thorough because audiences can walk next to it and see it clearly.

The piece is focused around two characters, man and wife, after an apocalyptic attack. The only way to survive is to keep moving forward, looking for essential resources such as water. The two must continually work together both physically and emotionally during the 25 minute performance.

Jeni said festivals like Summer of Circus were “crucial” and outdoor arts were integral to bond communities – especially given the political situation we are in today. The Wheel House performance has now been touring for nine years.

Jeni said the show was “constantly evolving” as the company grew, adding that it was an organic process and one they felt passionate about. Other Acrojou performances have included All at Sea, a boat-sized piece displaying one man’s inner ocean and Frantic, about the reality of the human mind and one man’s thirst for escape.