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Monday, 21 July 2014

Don't Turn Your Back on the Sawdust Ring

 Circus Mania” is a much needed dispassionately written book on the British circus scene. In order for this institution to survive, thrive and regain mainstream respectability in the media it needs journalistic appraisal, insight and critique.  The author, theatrical journalist Douglas McPherson, explains in his introduction that he had only a “fragmentary” memory of his time watching the circus as a child. After that he had no connection with the circus whatsoever, admitting to the common middle-class prejudice of believing that circuses were bygone vestiges of animal abuse. Therefore, when “The Stage” newspaper asked him to review The Great Yarmouth Hippodrome Circus’s 100th anniversary show, he came to the current British circus scene with fresh eyes. It was here where he met and interviewed the lovely Eva Garcia who would fall to her death at the very beginning of her cloud swing act just one day after his review was published. His experience at the show and meeting those who worked there inspired him to further investigate the British circus scene. McPherson had noticed that beside the behemoth institution that is Cirque du Soleil, it was rare for the performing arts world to take any notice of this very British showbusiness institution outside of the negative publicity targeted at animal circuses by their protesters.