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Visions of the Circus-Circus


Blysh brings a heady mix of cabaret, vaudeville and acrobatics back to the Wales Millennium Centre for one of Cardiff’s most exciting festivals.


words: MARC THOMAS pic: THE TWO W


hether it’s the re-release of the iconic film Cabaret in 2002, the availability of cheap ukuleles or perhaps the increasing boredom with traditional


theatre that sparked it off, vaudeville and cabaret are back in fashion and if you haven’t noticed it yet, then Blysh Festival will change that. Now in its second year, Blysh Festival takes place in and around the Wales Millennium Centre between Fri 16 and Sun 25 July. The festival brings together the three Cs of light-hearted theatre: comedy, carnival and cabaret – supplemented by a healthy dosage of vaudevillian antics.


Kicking things off on Fri 16 on the Glanfa Stage in


the Millennium Centre are Cardiff natives, Johnny Cage And The Voodoo Groove, bringing their unique brand of rock’n’roll, swing and blues music (Fri 16, 6:30pm, Glanfa Stage, free).


The following day in the same place, you can watch one of the standout acts appearing at the festival: Le Navet Bete. Yes, their name may be French for ‘The Stupid Turnip’ but their circus act Zemblanity will leave you firmly assured that they aren’t stupid turnips. Le Navet Bete is a cross between Tiny Tim and Charlie Chaplin with strong overtones from the Bedlam Madhouse. Surely one of the best acts ap- pearing at the festival, but also fairly rude – probably best to leave the kids with the babysitter (Sat 17, 6pm, Glanfa Stage, free). After seeing Le Navet Bete, you’ll probably want to calm down a bit, so why not pop over to seeMimbre use their strength, agility and grace abundant as the three acrobats portray the stories of their femininity in a blissful fusion of acrobatics, theatre and dance in Until Now. (Sat 17, 7.30pm, Weston Studio, £8-£12). In a further display of the weird and wonderfully eclectic cabaret form, join the darlings of the neo- cabaret scene Bourgeois & Maurice as they don the most bizarre get-ups in Wales and entertain crowds with an evening of melodious cacophony and whimsi- cally witty musical offerings (Thurs 22, 8pm, Weston Studio, £8-£12). Appearing on Sat 24 is Gideon Conn. Probably a bit out of place at a cabaret and vaudeville festival, the Manchester-based songwriter has just released a


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World Cup-related track for England called Get Your Hopes Up (Win, Win, Win). Conn’s performances bring to mind the comedy antics of Tommy Cooper, and although he lists Welsh opera great Bryn Terfel amongst his musical influences, he has also been known to treat the crowd to a singalong rendition of the Eastenders theme tune. Having already played various venues around Cardiff in recent years, Conn is well acquainted with local crowds and is sure to engage in quaint ditties and banterous laughter (Sat 24, 9pm, Glanfa Stage, free). Blysh Festival culminates with the breathtaking performances of WOW On The Waterfront as Spanish- Argentine Grupo Puja unleash the wildly exciting K@ osmos, in which the eight performers demonstrate their aerial ability from a height of 150 feet above Roald Dahl Plass while suspended from a giant steel ball. Sounding just like a real-life enactment of the Circus-Circus as described by Hunter S. Thompson, WOW On The Waterfront, which includes a perfor- mance by purveyors of fine carnival SWICA, is prob- ably the most spectacular act that you will see this year – and it is definitely worth swinging by for! (Sat 23-Sun 24, 9pm, Roald Dahl Plass, free) With so much going on, including workshops in circus skills by No Fit State and much, much more, Blysh Festival promises to be one of the most exciting and diverse events that Cardiff will see this summer.


Info: 08700 402000/ www.cardiff-festival. com/blysh


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