It’s a generations-old live show that has changed and evolved over the years to survive.
Yet when I first took the boys to see Zippos a couple of years ago, I’ll admit I was sceptical about whether a show like this could hold their attention.
Because, in a strangely ironic twist, the very things that are no longer allowed in circus acts are the very acts which are most likely to hold my boys’ attention. Animals.
Having said that, there are some performing horses and a cute budgie act with miniature slides. And Zippos publishes all the latest inspection reports in the animal welfare section of their website, as reassurance they are well cared for.
But this circus is no one-trick pony (see what I did there?)
There are lots of acts, which in this year’s Unchained show seem to focus around the strongman Hercules.
And it’s got to be said that Brodie was impressed with the sheer brawn of this hero, who at one point lay down and allowed a 4×4 to run over him (sounds terrifying but it’s not really).
Nevertheless, don’t try it at home folks.
Blake’s favourites were The Rastelli Clowns, whose visual comedy had him transfixed, waiting to discover what happened next.
The combination of music and slapstick appealed to him so much that I happen to think he has been born in the wrong century.
And there was a certain Norman Wisdom charm to Emilion, the cheeky characters who lurched onto the stage, making the ringmaster’s life a misery, playing up to the audience, and even doing a clever little audience participation skit where he dressed up as Freddie Mercury.
Blake found some of the acrobatics quite scary. I think he was genuinely worried for the performers, although when they pulled off each daring feat, he applauded like crazy.
I admit I was just as mesmerised by the Tropicana Troupe – although it probably had more to do with the (ahem) hunky, muscly blokes.
Although so much had changed from the Zippos we saw a couple of years ago, Brodie was relieved that ringmaster Norman Barrett still did his marvellous budgie act. This act seems to be a constant in the show – probably because it’s so cute and clever, and the kids love it.
If you like circuses, go see this show. If you’re not sure or have never been, give Zippos a chance to persuade you.
I’d bet all the candy floss in the Big Top that you won’t be disappointed.
Check out the Zippos website for details of a few free shows they’ll be doing, on Fridays through August and September in venues from Elgin to Sheffield, Brighton to Hampstead Heath.