When a "Giffords Circus Press Launch at Sudeley Castle" email lands in your inbox you think of three things. Firstly - Giffords has started which means summer is on its way. Secondly - You are going to get far too excited that is acceptable for a grown adult and, thirdly - Can it really be as good as last year? The 2015 show Moon Songs was simply stunning and attracted nearly 100,000 people during the tour.
This year they have gone all Wild West on us with The Painted Wagon. If you think of a whip crackin', foot tapping, sometimes panic stricken extravaganza with the usual side splitting antics from the awe-inspiring Tweedy the Clown and genuine brilliance from the honky-tonk house band then you pretty much have the show in a nutshell - yet nutshells don't seem to be Giffords style. Each scene seduces you and the "aaahh's", gasps, laughs and "eeek's" are all very genuine.. One of the first things you see is a very well trained chicken doing a lap of the circus ring!!!
The show starts in a familiar, yet still very unpredictable, style by Tweedy as he introduces his two pets - a raccoon and the crowd favourite - an iron (yes you read that correctly) with the front row all on tenterhooks as you just know more than one person is going to picked out to aid him in some shape or form either in the ring or as a human coat-hanger in the crowd!
The scene is set with the ill-famed El Gifford fleeing Dodge City on horseback followed by the first look of the mightily impressive buffalo-drawn Painted Wagon as settlers start their journey to find a safe place to live.
Along the way we meet our favourite beer bottle jugglers Bibi and Bichu, the very funny god-botherers Lyrical Lyra, Dangerous Dan [Fortt], who dazzled the audience as he rode a white horse through a ring of fire, the lasso-spinning, gun-twirling newcomer Lillian Konyot, the marvelous Sarsaparilla Sal played by the quite sublime Nancy Trotter Landry and her handsome paramour Eddie who would have stolen the show if it wasn't for the quite incredible and gravity-defying Konjowoch Troupe who perform a heart in mouth balancing act that will leave you mesmerized.
The magic continues in the Circus Sauce restaurant, a 60-seater pop-up that follows the circus to each location. The kitchen is housed in two stunning showman's wagons and has four communal oak tables, perfect for discussing everything that has just wowed you in the circus tent. The delicious and ever changing hearty 3-course meal is created by head chef Oliver Halas using all local produce from the area to which the circus is located supporting local farms, smallholdings with the odd bit of hedge foraging.
This was the most fitting ending to truly scintillating evening. The Painted Wagon is the Giffords production best yet and is one not to be missed.
Check out our Giffords gallery HERE and visit www.giffordscircus.com to book tickets to both the show and the restaurant!
Ramblings from The Cotswolds Gentleman.