Extreme entertainment in Joburg

Rolla Bolla: Kirill Rebkovets balances over
a stack of cylinders.

Denis Ignatov plays with fire.

Martin and Visan Espana on the
Wheel of Destiny
(Images: Mariola Biela)

 • Collett Dawson
   Publicist, Le Grand Cirque Adrenaline
   +27 82 653 1338

Zip Zap circus school teaches life skills
Cirque du Soleil to wow South Africa
SA puppet company wins a Tony
Fast, furious and female site

Tiisetso Tlelima

Forget the scene in Mission Impossible with Tom Cruise scaling up Dubai’s skyscraper, Le Grand Cirque Adrenaline at the Joburg Theatre is layered with bigger, better and more spectacular stunts.

With no safety belts, crash mats, harnesses or any other safety apparatus, the production, originally from Sydney, Australia, is by far the most dangerous extreme acts show South Africa has seen.

It opened on 24 May, and is jam-packed with nail-biting, heart-pounding action while also providing side-splitting comedy.

Jaw-dropping acts

The headline act, known as the Globe of Death, left the audience in awe as they watched three bikers ride inside a globe of steel at speeds of up to 65km/h, all the while trying to avoid collision.

“It’s honestly the most insane piece in the history of theatre,” said the show’s creative producer Simon Painter.

“They could die at any point in the act. It’s a ridiculous, crazy thing to do.”

Equally dangerous is the Wheel of Destiny, performed by two Brazilian artists, Martin and Visan Espana, whose stunts involve jumping in and out of man-sized cylinder shaped ends of a giant swinging pendulum. The point is to manoeuvre in and out of the wheel as quickly as possible, sometimes even blindfolded.

Rolla Bolla, performed by Russian-born Kirill Rebkovets was another favourite among the audience. Rebkovets stacks cylinders one on top of another to make a rolling tower, on which he then places a board that he balances on while the cylinders wobble under his weight.

Also popular was the Trampoline Wall. In this act, three athletes hurl themselves, one by one, off a large trampoline on to a wall standing at right angles to it, all the while performing somersaults on the way up and down.

Circus fanatics can expect to see anything from shape juggling and artists flinging themselves off double swings to acrobats balancing themselves on each other’s heads and identical twins bending their bodies to fit into barrels.

An opportunity for laughs

The host of the show is Salvador Salangsang, who makes a great impression of a non-English speaking character who occasionally yanks unsuspecting members of the audience from their seats only to make fun of them on stage.

These pranks are a welcomed break from the adrenaline-charged stunts by his colleagues and add a comic feel to the show.

World-class performers

Le Grand Cirque features 35 athletes who have been handpicked by Painter from all over the world. The artists come from countries like Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Mexico, Spain, Ukraine, Britain and the US. Many have been performing in circuses most of their lives.

“It’s a 9th generation circus so they’ve done it all their lives,” explained Painter.

“Their grandfathers did it, their great grandfather did it. There are two wonderful children who are already training with [their fathers] now.”

Painter, who started his career as a classic violinist before turning to theatre producing, travelled around the globe to places such as Outer Mongolia, Brazil and the Eastern Batiks in search of the world’s most unusual and death-defying performers for the new Adrenaline production.

“They have to be the best in the business of what they do,” he said when asked how the artists are selected.

“Every single one of them is a champion, they’ve won awards and competitions. They have to be at the top of their game. So that’s how we pick them.”

They must also be willing to work as a unit because everyone works together on stage, he added.

Le Grand Cirque Adrenaline will run at the Nelson Mandela stage at the Joburg Theatre until 17 June.

Painter is also planning to bring yet another exhilarating show, The Illusionists, which showcases some of the world’s best magicians, to South Africa next year.

Tickets for Le Grand Cirque Adrenaline are available from R190 and can be purchased by visiting www.joburgtheatre.com or through calling the theatre’s ticketing office on 0861 670 670.

The show starts at 8pm Tuesday to Fridays, 3pm and 8pm on Saturdays and at 2pm and 6pm on Sundays.