Upon arriving at Vampire Rabbit by Circus Central, I knew little about what I would see other than an interdisciplinary show, the company are a registered charity and a hub for the circus arts in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Vampire Rabbit ran matinee and evening shows throughout the week of Juice Festival, I opted to the evening show suitable for 12+, hoping for a scare!
On my way to see the performance, I had very little expectations of what was in store for me. However, the venue of The Mining Institute, a remarkable Victorian building crafted around the high-gothic architectural period, had already been sending my imagination wild and the suspense kept my anticipation high!
I arrived and the rest of the audience were also waiting in the foyer, in character Helen Averely the CEO and Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Circus Central greeted the arriving audience. From this instance the mood of the performance transported me to a period gothic era, reminiscent of
classic horror stories such as Frankenstein and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
As the audience were then ushered into the lecture hall, the space became brimming with more fabulously dressed characters from this period and it became clear how immersive this performance was going to be. This
element was tremendous and I thoroughly enjoyed it as an adult, I can only imagine the joy and excitement it would have brought to a younger audience.
The performance began within the lecture hall, with beautiful ominous music being played as we arrived by Kerrin Tatman and the talented ensemble including Tamara Kazziha and others, this continued throughout the piece and was truly a key feature in making the performance.
A short while later Jordan Carling entered and later joining him on stage Jackie Edwards the protagonist, an outstanding actress, both giving a fabulous performance and setting a high precedent for the rest of the show. All the elements synched in beautiful harmony mirroring the gorgeous sounds.
Just as I had become complacent, armed with my pen and notebook and confident that I knew where this performance was going – the scene ended and so did our time in the lecture hall. We were ushered back outside to the hallway were the performance continued introducing us to the graceful dancer Lizzie Klotz.
From here on in, the evening began to pick up pace and become a piece of work outstandingly different from anything I’ve seen before in Newcastle. As I mentioned previously I had been anticipating how such a venue’s space would be used prior to my arrival, I was right to have been excited as we were then lead to the grand hall of The Mining Institute, where we were transported into a grand party hosted by the Doctor played with an excellent creepy demeanour by Charlie Dearnley.
Finally, to conclude this amazing scene the circus elements came out to play with actresses Lerato Mncube and Toni Elwin hanging from arial silks above the audience. Three younger girls playing Rabbit like creatures with the finesse and grace of any feline also showcased their amazing aerial expertise as strong and nimble as monkeys, fitting for their mammal characters. This scene was one of my favourites with the lighting, costumes and props being truly spectacular, akin to a gothic Great Gatsby.
What made this scene particularly special was the inclusion of the audience as characters the audience were treated as the party’s attendees as champagne glasses were handed out and characters would chat to audience members like old friends .
As the performance went on we were guided on this adventure of the fabulous venue twisted by Circus Central’s vision, leading us to the very top of the building overlooking Pudding Chare – the street outside – mirroring the time period of the plot. The eerie skyline was the backdrop as the Doctor danced with his dead wife in a dimly lit white room surrounded by coffins, creating a beautiful chilling penultimate scene before meeting The Vampire Rabbit itself!
Upon entering a room filled with smoke, the audience finally glanced upon the skilfully crafted (giant!) puppet rabbit by Will Steel & Andy Neale, once again I can only imagine the adrenaline and joy this would have brought to a younger child.
All in all the show was amazing, but I’d also like to add how refreshing it was to see something so different in Newcastle. I’ve been away from the city, on and off, for the past couple of years and I have to admit since returning this summer I’ve been amazed at how inspiring the arts scene has
became up here. Vampire Rabbit, by Circus Central, was a true tribute to this wave of creativity and a credit to The North East.
There was such a large and fantastic cast and crew involved in the show and unfortunatley I can’t mention everyone but to see everyone who was involved look no further than here.
All Images originally found on Circus Central’s Facebook Page.