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The Greatest Show On Earth, Colonial Life Arena: 29 January 2017   2 comments

Posted at 12:44 am in closing

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Well, the shuttering of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus has already been well discussed in Have Your Say. I'm one of the majority who haven't been to a show in decades, and don't really have any strong memories of the few times I did go (which would have been in the Carolina Coliseum), but the news brought me, my sister, my nieces and apparently three quarters of Columbia (judging by traffic) out to the show last Sunday, and I have to say I certainly enjoyed myself.

Rather than the traditional three-ring hodge-podge, this years show was themed, and had a overall plot, so in a way I guess it was more like a Cirque du Soleil presentation than sawdust and tent poles. The loose plot framework was that two boyhood friends had both become stellar ringmasters, one working for a circus master whose magic telescope let him pick the brighest "circus stars" and the other to an evil Russian-esque Circus Queen, Tatiana, whose mission was to poach those brightest circus stars to build her show. The framework let the misguided ringmaster do physical comedy and lead his army of clowns against the "good" ringmaster while the good ringmaster travelled from planet to planet recovering his stolen stars, which of course gave them many chances to perform.

Another innovation was the fact that, when not covered by various panels, the arena floor was ice, so there was a lot of skating involved too. All of the usual feats of deering-do were there, tumblers, trapeze artists, bareback riders, lion (well mostly tiger) tamers, as well as dogs and clowns. Only the elephants were missing.

Of course in the end, the two friends were reconciled and even Tatiana joined the combined show which set off for Earth so it could make good the tagline of being the greatest there too. To me it seemed an appropriate send-off for the end of an American institution.

Written by ted on January 31st, 2017

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