One of the great things about getting to see a preview of this show, as I did when they took part in the Savernake Street party about a month ago, is that I now get to compare a work in progress with the final performance. It’s a bit like comparing a song demo to the final album version or an edited film to the directors cut. Does that make me a circus nerd? Well, I’ve been called worse. Often in Christmas cards. From my own family.
This collaboration between The Cat’s Pyjamas and Jacob Hi-Ho ticks all the boxes you expect from a family show. There is all the usual juggling from the two performers, tumbling and balancing and some slack-wire stunts which mix humour and dexterity. But it is the high-wire performance part of the show which is the obvious centre piece and seeing it done against the outdoor backdrop of English summer skies and the whisper of the breeze through the greenery which makes the whole affair much more grounding, real and the antithesis of the glitz, glamour and commerciality of the bigger troupes. Such is the timeless vibe that exists at this most perfect of venues, Lower Shaw Farm
But for me, coming to the show with some level of familiarity, it was the presentation, the minor details and that extra coating of gloss, which made the show much more than the sum of its parts. The tomfoolery, the sumbles and falls had all been nicely worked out so that the clowning often made you forget just how skilled and how dangerous their routine was. Ben’s Jacques Tati style buffoonery to Jacob’s frustrated straight man was pitched perfectly and the icing on the cake was live drummer and sound tweaker, Fergie, not only a man who knows how to play the animated, silent movie bystander but whose use of the sound tracks (all his own work I believe) added tension or induced laughter as required.
A great show and although not due for another outing, it does hint at the style of show that you may see coming out of this exciting collection of local talent next year.
In the meantime you can next catch Jacob at The Children’s Fete on Saturday 9th July at the GWR Park on Faringdon Road.
Oh, and there was some live accordion playing. I only mention that because I’ve just thought of the perfect title for this review. Take that punsters!