Published: 18:53, 16 August 2020
| Updated: 19:28, 16 August 2020
Thanks to the Government's latest and somewhat confusing Covid-19 guidelines Big Top shows can tour again because they are technically outside events, unlike theatres.
Scroll down for Wheel of Death video
It must have been a bit of a gamble when the French Santus family decided to load up the trucks to continue its 2020 tour after having it so rudely interrupted back in March. It is also touring without co-owner Roger Santus who is still seriously ill in hospital following a road accident.
But the team once again fills the ring with magic.
This review may be a little biased because I have always loved a circus. There is something very strange about a tent turning up in a field and then disappearing after a few days.
I am old enough to remember travelling shows arriving with lions, tigers, horses, performing dogs and the odd elephant. Santus ditched its animals a long time ago and proudly promotes itself as a all-human production.
But the excitement is still there as soon as the lights dim and ringmaster Ernest Santus, resplendent in waistcoat and top hat, blows his whistle for the entertainment to begin in the coronavirus-friendly Big Top.
It is, as the name implies a family business with the same performers popping up in different guises throughout the show. It makes watching more fun trying to recognise them in the costumes.
The show opened with six girl dancers followed by "Mademoiselle Ruby" Santus who has one of the most welcoming smiles in showbusiness. In her first appearance she flashes her hula-hoops at the audience.
Her ringmaster uncle says she is from Switzerland in his short and succinct introduction but you and I know she is actually from Sittingbourne. No matter, a few while lies never did PT Barnum any harm.
Her clown brother Lucien follows her with two giant hoops. He has mastered the art of 'gentle clowning'. Even those who have morbid fears of men with make-up should be able to watch this.
Next up is Aagii Chulwun from Mongolia as a giant human slinky, which is always popular with the youngsters.
Miss Ellie Mae from Spain and wearing a pink and silver costume is then hoisted into the roof of the tent and dangles from a steel cube. This is something I can categorically state will never happen to me.
The versatile Sergio Silva from Portugal makes his first appearance with a spectacular green laser show. It is literally smoke and mirrors but an amazing effect which lights up the whole tent. You will not recognise Sergio, however, as he is dressed in black as some kind of skeleton.
Spiderman closes the first half with some impressive aerial flying and leads the way for a socially-distanced dash to the candyfloss and popcorn counter.
During the break a tight wire is erected and Lucien returns to open the second half with some clever juggling using hoops, skipping rope, balancing pole and a fire barrier. I think Ernest Santus introduced Miss Emma next but I suspect it is Miss Ellie again with some aerial ribbon dancing, although I might be wrong. There is no Miss Emma in the programme but there is a Miss Evelyn, who I don't recognise.
Sergio Silva returns with a sinister-looking black cape without sleeves and proceeds to shoot a powerful crossbow at his long-suffering partner. There is no public warning about this but it looks pretty dangerous. I don't think kids should do this at home. (His partner Jennifer later explains that Sergio went to a special crossbow school to learn how not to kill her, so that's all right, then).
Lucien is back with some clown disco dancing and then sister Ruby (still from Switzerland) proceeds to foot juggle with a massive cylinder and four balls of fire. I tried this, not with the fire, when I got home. It is actually incredibly difficult. I also need to buy a new coffee table.
I am sure Miss Ellie Mae then returned to the ring with gold tassels and a long-flowing pony-tail for some spectacular stunts on the flying trapeze before giving way to the incredible contortionist Zaya who got herself into some impossible positions before firing a bow and arrow with her foot while spinning upside down.
That had to worth the price of a ticket alone. But the best was yet to come. After some water fun with clown Lucien Sergio returned with his brand new stainless steel Wheel of Death and proceeded to defy gravity as he spun in a giant hamster wheel, at one stage blind-folded.
Video: Santus Circus Wheel of Death
They don't call the circus the greatest show on earth for nothing.
* Santus Circus finished its run at Barton's Point Coastal Park, Sheerness, Sheppey, today (Sunday). It reopens at Whitstable on Thursday August 20 and runs to Monday, August 31.