NEXT week, Brighton Dome will be transformed as it never has before.

Air Play, a mixture of physical theatre and circus, is such a spectacular production that it requires the historic venue to be completely revamped. The performance will be “in the round”, with the stage at the centre of the auditorium and the audience sat in a circle.

That said, most of the action will occur not on the ground but up above. Everyday items like umbrellas and kites – as well as huge fabrics and balloons – will sail above the audience’s heads in an astonishing airborne display.

Americans Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone, the couple behind the performance company responsible for Air Play (Acrobuffos) have created a show so successful that three seperate versions of it tour around the world at any given time. Bloom and Gelsone, who met in Afghanistan (more on that later), are excited to be spending Christmas in Brighton with their baby that just keeps on growing.

“We’ve worked for four years on this show,” says Christina. “It’s like feeding a dragon. When you start it you imagine it will be the size of a dog but it becomes bigger than your house and you’re a bit terrified of it and feed it what it wants. It’s bigger than we’ve ever dreamed.”

As well as the amazing acrobatics on show, the couple (who define themselves as professional “clowns”) say the universal appeal of the performance is its relatable narrative. Air Play loosely revolves around the story of two close siblings who set out on an adventure – although that sometimes goes over the heads of children in the audience.

“We’ve worked all over the world and a love story show is only common in the Western world,” explains Christina. “We wanted to make something that is universal. Not everyone has had the perfect love story in their life but everyone has had a childhood.”

Seth adds: “We don’t like to be prescriptive. Everyone takes something different from it. The kids are more like, ‘oh my God, there are huge balloons everywhere’, whereas a guy in Chile told me that it reminded him what it was like to be a kid again and in love with the world.”

Seth and Christina’s primary desire in life is to make people laugh, and in Air Play they perform circus routines on stage as well as physical feats in the air. But sometimes there are unexpected crowd reactions to the show. There is one moment when a big red balloon floats gently over the audience and, for some reason, induces a visceral emotional response.

“In that scene, a lot of people have told us they stopped breathing for a second and had tears in their eyes,” says Seth. For him and Christina, Air Play is the gratifying endpoint of a lifetime studying physical theatre.

Both trained in the performing arts and Seth even has an MA in the subject. They met in Afghanistan, where Seth had set up a circus for children and Christina was performing in orphanages and schools.

“It was the early days of the internet and we’d both heard there was another American clown in the country”, says Christina. “So we arranged to meet.” Seth adds: “We were friends for a long time and fell in love along the way.”

The chemistry of the couple is evident in Air Play as they navigate a number of precarious acrobatic acts with a smile. Performing is hardly work for them – it’s just what they do. The pair are so committed to Acrobuffos that they usually perform on Christmas day in their home nation, even up to three times a day.

“This is probably the first Christmas day we’ll have off,” laughs Christina, who adds that she won’t miss home over the festive period because she is always travelling anyway. She and Seth consider themselves nomads.

“It’s going to be great to be somewhere else over Christmas, and especially somewhere that gives us the possibility of re-thinking the show,” says Seth, referring to the Brighton Dome restructuring. “We’re super excited about that.”

Brighton Dome, December 21 to 26, visit