London's Social Air—Is It Good For This Nomadic Entertainment ?
'OBODY is so conservative or N such a stickler for pure tradi tion as your real circus-lover. He likes to see improvements and new acts, of course, but the improvement and the noveltv must be in the direct line of tradition. Even the antics of clowns and their jokes must fit within rigid conventions.
On the other hand the performers and the milieu of the circus must be strongly unconventional—that is its strongest con vention. Not that one wishes the performers to offend against any of the reasonable laws, hut they should certainly be gipsyish outside the ring if only to provide a piquant contrast by their gorgeousness when per for ming.
I hope I am wrong, but I have the fear
that a cult is being made of the circus, that well-meaning people are taking it up intellectually and socially, are even hobnobbing ivith proprietors and performers. That is all wrong of course. Directly the circus loses its flavour of outlawry it will deteriorate and die, as the music hall died, pitifully choked in the thin air of respectability.
I am also fearful that this modern business of holding circuses in permanent buildings is not good for it.
To appreciate a circus properly I contend that you should meet the strngling procession of heavily Preparation loaded vans and Thrills lorries before it reaches the pitch. Should help the men unload the thousands of parts and properties and —if specially favoured help with the watering and feeding of the horses. When the tent has been erected they should participate, if permitted, in the transformation of sweating, beer-drinking, stronglanguaged nomads into the exciting retinue of Indian rajahs, cowboys, clowns, acrohats, equilibrists, and trick-riders, who will Lake part in the grand parade.
When a permanent building is used for the circus none of this is possible--and in London there can't be a parade of the streets—which is why I was rather dubious in visiting the Coliseum last week for its international circus season.
The actual programme soon resolved my doubts. It was a real circus holding to the old traditions in new Keeping Up ways.
Tradition Queens of the Air did wonderful things up near the roof; the 3 Anjolys did their act as " Sensational High-perch Equilibrists there were sixteen Liberty horses; unridable mules bucked and reared terribly; springboard acrobats catherine-wheeled through the air. beautiful girls, and strong, graceful men went round on horses doing practically everything but ride them in the normal way; and elephants and dogs did tricks.
And there were clowns.
The real test of a circus, of course, is whether it will please a child. The Coliseum show passes that test.
Children 1 took Paula with me. Always Know She is in process of learning to be a beautiful lady and has not yet reached the stage of masking her feelings and showing cool boredom on every occasion.
She chuckled, laughed, gasped and squeaked at appropriate moments and when I finally asked how she had enjoyed it, replied : "Wasn't it lovely."
Could I but express in words what she showed by eyes, face and voice in that " lovely " I should be making enormous
sums writing advertisements. J. G. Coliseum