Le Coup

Chelsea McGuffin has brought a short, punchy circus and vaudeville-inspired show to the Norfolk and Norwich Festival for this year’s Spiegeltent residency.

Le Coup has a loose fight theme, inspired by Australia’s Fred Brophy’s boxing troupe, with four main characters performing acrobatic and other skills.

‘Sally the Alley Cat’ performed two stunning aerial sets on rope and hoop, something that always feels raw and exciting in the intimate surroundings of the glass and wood Speigeltent.

She was matched in her acrobatics by the ‘King of the Ring’ (Hilton Denis), who also took part in a fun tap dancing duel with one of the house band.

‘Beaver the Diva’ (Tara Boom) used her long hair to bring a couple of neat tricks to life, but really demonstrated her skills in a unusual act where she balanced, juggled, and manipulated giant parasols with her feet. The piece had a glorious, beautiful opening, and kept on impressing throughout.

The final contender was Fred (Danik Abishev), a trainee ‘fighter’ who is often abused by the other performers but ends up performing a glorious finale.

The action is overseen by the red catsuited Boss (Jacqueline Furey), who performs her own sword swallowing and fire eating tricks as well as giving caustic and occasionally coarse commentary. She also delivers one of the most memorable parts of the night, with an audience member picked to demonstrate their steel as she brandishes her whip.

House band Father Grand and The Blunt Objects (Grant Arthur, Ben Harrison, and Bonnie Stewart) provide live musical accompaniment as well as joining in with some of the acts.

The fight conceit is little more than window dressing, but at 65 minutes the show is a lively but brief extravaganza which delivers the festival’s now traditional circus centrepiece with its own brash style.