Poetry in motion at the Circo Bidone
We go to the Mantua Literature Festival for a very special circus. The Circo Bidone, Europe's last horse-drawn circus, draws us into its magical world . . .
For two days (5th and 6th September) Mantua played host to a rather unusual circus; one with few performers but with lots of colourful caravans with bright-red geraniums spilling from the windows. There was little stardust to be had at the Circo Bidone but the air was full of echoes of Fellini instead. The Circo Bidone is poetry in motion, told partly in French - the show was devised by François Rauline - partly Italian, but mostly in that universal language, inherited from the commedia dellarte tradition, which the circus has made its own. Inanimate objects are treated like living creatures, men like animals and animals like men all to the sounds of the carpenter's very own 'string quartet'.
Cabaret, theatre and music come together to create a imaginary journey through a series of magical worlds. The seal-man. half-acrobat, half-juggler makes his white balls dance through the air; the ropewalking spider-man flies free from the rope which forms a snake and then a noose around him; the elf-man delights us as he makes three simple sticks twist and turn to the music. The music is played by a Romanian trio who conjure up an eclectic mix of styles bringing us from the Gyspy camp to Eastern Europe, to Arab souks and back to French cafès all with an added twist (an accordion plays the theme from Mission Impossible as the background to a sketch set on a bed of nails).
A circus isn't a circus without a clown and there he is with his sad smile and ironic laugh. There's no desertion of the circus animals, they're there too - a hotchpotch collection of chickens, monkeys, ducks and a white horse, all quite tame but still animal enough to inject life into the sketches. And when the sketches involve chicken shit you can't complain. Or can you?
Don't miss the greatest show on earth thanks to ItaliaPlease