Circus review: The Great Moscow Circus, J L Murphy Reserve, Port Melbourne

The Great Moscow Circus is a great family outing this school holidays.
A man in motorcycle gear and a helmet is standing outside a large caged dome.

The Great Moscow Circus promises an exhilarating experience under the Big Top, and it mostly delivers  on that front. The venue, although seating around 500, manages to maintain an intimate atmosphere,  ensuring that you are right in the heart of the action. Upon arrival, the scent of popcorn sets the stage for a classic circus ambience, though the turnout on a Saturday night was surprisingly sparse.  

The show kicks off with a charming welcome from Clown Gagik, a Charlie Chaplinesque character, setting a playful tone that is followed by an opening parade of all the acts, enhanced by The Greatest Showman soundtrack. However, the opening act seems to lack the initial energy needed to captivate the audience fully.  

A minor mishap early on with a stumble on the Giant Wheel, was promptly handled with clear safety protocols. It raised eyebrows, but also showcased the circus’ commitment to safety.  

Throughout the show there is a deliberate play on suspense and risk-taking, exemplified by jaw-dropping feats. The extreme circus acts really lean into pushing the boundaries of daring and adrenaline-fuelled excitement.

Audience interaction is encouraged by the clown, from initiating spontaneous marriages to forming impromptu bands, ensuring the audience feels a part of the spectacle.  

The standout of the evening is undoubtedly the BMX segment, which combines skill with daring in a way that leaves the audience awestruck. It is no wonder that BMX is now an Olympic sport, with double back flips on scooters and bikes seeming like easy work for the group. 

On the downside, while the vocalist and dancers don gorgeous costumes, their performances lack vitality compared to the stronger circus acts. Perhaps different song choices would have helped the singer, particularly those in a higher register better suited to her vocal range.  

Following a 25-minute interval, the second act compensates with a more action-packed sequence,  featuring daring aerial performances. Guinness World Record holders, Duo Acero, are very impressive, demonstrating unparalleled strength and agility.  

Closing out the evening with the Globe Riders – three motorcyclists inside a sphere – is nothing short of  spectacular. It’s a heart-pounding finale that will leave you in awe of the precision and skill of the daredevil  performers.  

Read: Theatre review: Recollection, fortyfivedownstairs

Despite its slightly unfortunate name given the current political climate, The Great Moscow Circus proves to be a great family outing, with extreme circus acts that steal the show. While the interludes may not always match the excitement of the main acts, it’s a circus experience not to be missed for those seeking thrills and entertainment alike.  

The Great Moscow Circus: An all new extreme show, J L Murphy Reserve, Port Melbourne  
Produced by Edgley-Weber 

Tickets: from $25

The Great Moscow Circus will be performing in Port Melbourne until 14 July before touring to Wangaratta on 18 July and Benalla on 1 August.

Hayley Thomas is an Adelaide born performing artist, arts writer and talent relations manager. She holds a Bachelor of Music Theatre from the University of Adelaide and a Graduate Certificate in Arts (Screen Studies) from the University of Melbourne. She has a love for research-based film analysis, exploring the nuances of the human psyche. Her other interests include running, Pilates, dogs and pasta. Hayley is based in Naarm (Melbourne), Australia. Instagram: @hayleyerynn