Roll up, roll up, for the best party in town
Going to Giffords Circus is like finding yourself at a crazy party of epic proportions.
There's all the ingredients of a modern circus - clowns, acrobats, dancers, singers, magicians, hand balancers, wire walkers, jugglers, a live band - all wrapped up in a loose light- hearted story that aims to put an ear-to-ear grin on all faces, from baby soft to wrinkly.
Our seven year old didn't stop smiling. Even our four month old did fair bit of leg and arm waving (until her brain declared itself full at half time and zonked out). I like to think she'll remember this fab experience on some kind of lifelong happiness-o-metre, perhaps where she can't recall the memory of the event but on a fundamental level she'll know where the fun-factor bar is set. (This is the kind of fanciful thinking that a trip to Giffords inspires.)
Circus animals can be a controversial topic; Giffords has five horses in the show, a goose and a chicken. The horses are well provided for with a team to look after them which includes a masseur.
Then there's the dancing bear.
"Is it real?" our son asked. And of course we immediately put him straight by answering 'yes.' But then the bear gave the game away by giving a thumbs up to the audience. Something to do with a real bear not having opposable thumbs or something.
This year's theatrical theme is Lucky 13. The circus attempts to put on a cultural evening of classical recital but find themselves thwarted by Transylvanian Romany types who've set up camp in the circus enclosure.
Their preferred entertainment is a little more low brow, which goes down well with Tweedy the clown and his flatulent pants but not with the musicians and Nell Gifford the circus owner. That is, until they find they have a connection they never thought possible...
Which shows that fart jokes and themes of the commonality of the human condition go together nicely.
It's not the cheapest circus to visit, with tickets priced at £21 for adults and £14 for children, but there's an awful lot of performance for the money with twenty-six artists not to mention backstage and front of house staff as well as the overall quality that a sizeable creative team brings.
The circus has been on the road with Lucky 13 since May, and is on Marlborough Common until 9 September, before finishing in Cirencester. For tickets to the best party in town visit www.giffordscircus.com