The Oak Circus Centre, and their resident company Lost In Translation Circus are one of the many delights that make living in Norwich a privilege and a pleasure. Their Christmas show is eagerly anticipated and always features some dazzling circus skills.

Last year’s show was breathtakingly spectacular but I remember feeling that the narrative holding it together needed a bit of work. This year with The Baron in the Trees the company have taken their Christmas show to a new level, with a strong narrative based on the 1957 novel by Italo Calvini of the same name.

The show was in two parts with the first half given over to the younger students at the centre to show off their skills, with lots of tumbling, jumping and some very elegant high level skills. This looks like great fun and the young audience members near me stopped fidgeting and watched spellbound, perhaps ready to join the circus themselves.

The second half was given over to the story of twelve year old Cosimo, eldest son of the Baron. Protesting at being forced to eat snails he retreats to a tree, then vows never to touch the ground again. His aerial life is full of adventure as builds a library, has adventures with bandits, falls in love and watches the Age of Enlightenment unfold beneath him. The show is hosted by the sturdy figure of Massimillano Rossetti, the Director of Lost In Translation Circus who is also involved in many of the most heart-stopping circus routines that this clever troupe perform. The action is crafted to fit the storyline and allows us to engage with the characters while marvelling at their display of circus skills.

The company modestly present themselves as a troupe rather than highlighting individual names, but all of the core performers get a chance to present their own outstanding abilities. Roisin Morris flies through the air with numerous gravity defying collaborations with the others, including moving around the performance area standing on the shoulders of another performer, who is in turn standing on the shoulders of Massimillano. Natasha Rushbrooke impresses us with her incredible supple balance on trapeze and rope, while Matthew Green reminds us what a superb juggler he is.

This impressive show reminds us that contemporary circus is evolving and developing and that Norwich is host to one of the leading circus companies. The venue is impressive too, the former parish church of St Michael Coslany giving a wonderful ambience, although you will want to dress warmly on a chilly night. It is a great event to bring children to – they can see the fun of the physical activity but the show also shows that trust and co-operation are vital elements in the spectacle of circus. A wonderful early evening out that made the chilly journey through the freezing rain completely worthwhile.

© Julian Swainson 2018

The Baron in the Trees is on until Sunday 16th December at 6.30 pm – contact for bookings and information.