I stared open-mouthed and wide-eyed at the incredible stunts and carefully-crafted sequences displayed in The Moscow State Circus' Slavic spectacle Babushkin Sekret.
Set in a climate-controlled, pop-up big top in the middle of a gloriously sunny day, I was surprised at the authentic atmosphere inside the generously-sized interior. Wood-chipped floors, a smoke- screened stage and Russian fanfare draped the intimate, dimly-lit circus.
The latest show, set in 1927 Soviet Russia, recounts the traditional Russian tale of The 12 Chairs where, upon his mother's death, a young desk clerk discovers jewels have been hidden in a set of dining room chairs he auctioned off. The death-defying feats, accompanied by clowns Valik and Valerik's comedy capers, pad out the clerk's attempts to track down the sought-after twelfth chair.
Once seated in the round, the mesmerising performance came to a prompt start. Greeted by esteemed Russian artistes, who expertly combined contemporary and classic acrobatics and dance, the awe-struck audience of families and adults winced and marvelled as performers defied gravity by standing three-people tall as they scaled a tight rope suspended from the height of the high top.
Performers balanced metal poles on their heads while delicate dance moves took place at the top. A beautifully orchestrated duo swung and tumbled across the stage, and what seemed like the most effortless yet intricate juggling act was spun around the stage on a high-speed twirling structure.
The clowns kept the kids entertained with their silly yet skillful escapades and an extreme skipping section, high-flying tumbling troupe, and chair-stacking balancing act had me on the edge of my seat and enveloped with wonder.
Although I feel the underlying story was lost among the admiration of and enthusiam for the excellent acrobatics and daring displays from the incrediblly talented and brave performers, this was the only minor criticism I have of the terrific two-hour show.