The Great Moscow Circus – Extreme

Great Moscow Circus 2023Bonython Park. 29 Sep 2023


Every year, the circus comes to town. Travelling groups of performers pitch a massive tent in Adelaide’s Bonython Park and welcome kids of all ages to witness the age-old wonder. Long gone are the days of the animal circus, now banned in over 40 countries with good reason.


These days it’s up to the talent of human performers to bring the circus to life, and the skills that used to be the exclusive domain of these travelling performers are now a dime-a-dozen! Who doesn’t know someone that recreationally participates in a pole, trapeze, ribbon, or circus class? As the skills of the circus performer have become more mainstream, the circuses have had to take their craft to all new levels. Enter the ‘Extreme’ circus.


This type of circus has been the staple of the last decade. Standard fare tends to include the trapeze, wheel of death, and globe of death. Notably, a lot of death potential. If you’ve seen these tricks more than a few times, you might be wondering if Moscow’s Extreme circus has much variation on the theme. Pleasingly it has, and a lot more. And it is the more that really makes this tour worth your while.


Given the current political climate, it’s worth noting that the Great Moscow Circus is actually Australian owned and operated and has been since 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The circus has also officially distanced themselves from Russia and says it does not support the country’s invasion of the Ukraine.


One of the show’s most impressive acts is three trampolining Ukrainians, one of whom was, until 18 months ago, living in the Ukrainian city of Kherson before the Russian invasion really took hold. This trio are a highlight, with their wall-walking antics take the extreme lineup to new heights.


Overall, this travelling show is seriously good fun. It gets off to a concerningly slow start, with vocalist Diana Holt singing the opening number to The Greatest Showman supported by a lacklustre dance performance. This live enactment will never live up to the emotional power of the film, but the group work hard. The first act to perform is Hewinson Lyezkosky on the wheel of death, and on this opening night we are almost witness to the worst possible outcome as Lyezkosky momentarily trips whilst attempting to skip atop the rotating wheel. Our hearts are in our throat as he carries out a second attempt – spoiler alert, he lived to dance with death another day.


Follow up acts include pro scooter and BMX riders, aerial hoop, trapeze, Russian swing flips, the globe of death, and LED lit Hula-hooping, but the show is completely stolen by its clown, Gagik Avetisyan. Joining the Great Moscow Circus when he arrived in Australia in 2021, Avetisyan brings with him some 30 years of clowning and performance experience, and it shows. The small statured Charlie Chaplin look-a-like is hilarious. Appearing 4 or 5 times throughout the performance, the only thing funnier than his slapstick are the faces of the unsuspecting audience members he drags into the ring to assist him carry out his crazy mimetics! No one is safe, front row or back, when Avetisyan catches your eye, look out!


It's all good fun, and the family will love it. The circus is a childhood memory every adult deserves to have, so wrangle the kids together and head down to Bonython Park by the 15th of October. The circus continues in Elizabeth at Ridley Reserve from October 19 to 29 and then the Mount Barker Summit Sports and Recreation Club from November 2 to 5.


Paul Rodda


When: 29 Sep to 5 Nov

Where: Bonython Park - Adelaide,

Ridley Reserve - Elizabeth,

Summit Sports and Recreation Club - Mount Barker