The story of the lion and the clown

Once upon a time there was a baby lion roaming the streets of East London. When she met a clown, her life suddenly had purpose. Even though her love was not returned, the clown was – from this point onwards – a constant in her life.

But they were separated. Their cat-and-mouse games – interrupted only by acrobatic manoeuvres and balancing acts – continued until they finally found their way back to each other again.

Back to the arena

It was the premiere of their new show after 18 months of lockdown: The Revel Puck Circus is back on stage in Leyton Jubilee Park.  Ten circus artists tell the love story of the clown and the lion paired with stunning acrobatic performances on tightropes, trapezes and teeterboards. All their performances are a display of incredible skill, body control and mutual trust.

The Lion and the clown are hugging. The clown looks scared.
The lion (Fiona Thornhill) and the clown (Sam Goodburn) in performance. (c) Julia-Carolin Zeng 2021

The overall show is an absurdist take on fun and fear, at times in a musical-like setting with pop music, dance and impressive light effects.

Out of all the acts, it is hard to say which one was the audience’s favourite. The solo Cyr Wheel was certainly the first that fascinated the audience. But the dance on a tightrope and an aerial straps performance were equally exciting.

A rare occasion?

These days any public arts performance is a rarity. The Revel Puck Circus might be the only one currently performing irrespective of the uncertainties of the pandemic. For me, the experience was certainly rare as I had always associated a circus with a show performance for kids. In my hometown – a village in Germany – a circus was a Wednesday afternoon activity for families. A clown was always a part of it, but there were usually fewer acrobatics and more child-friendly animals like ponies and goats. However, The Revel Puck Circus does not have to rely on animals to keep the audience entertained.

“The Wing Scuffle Spectacular – a celebration of fear” by the Revel Puck Circus performs until 8th August 2021 in East London. Tickets are £15 and available online.

The whole circus company standing outside the tent jumping happily in the air.
The Revel Puck Circus: Fiona Thornhill, Imani Vital, Emily Lannigan, Shane Hampden, Sam Goodburn, Seb Parker, Annie Zita, Luke Hallgarten and Poppy Plowman (left to right). (c) Julia-Carolin Zeng 2021

Back to the story

Still shy and unsure of his feelings, the clown finally dared a dance with the now fully grown lion in the centre ring of the circus. It resembled a scene out of a Hollywood movie as they celebrated their affection in a slow dance, surrounded by an astonished audience.