Review: The Hogwallops (Lost in Translation Circus) at Northern Stage

Who – or what – are the Hogwallops? Originally commissioned by Showzam! in 2014 and now on an ACE-supported UK tour, the latest show from Norwich’s Lost in Translation Circus takes its inspiration by Roald Dahl’s The Twits and Ettore Scola’s Ugly, Dirty and Mean – but this being circus, the unruly family they’ve created are a far more endearing bunch. And the narrative, so far as one is needed, is that of a day in their chaotic life, with all its rough and tumble and arguments and frustrations turned into a rambunctious, rollicking hour of great entertainment.

Holding the attention of an all-ages audience from start to finish, the pacing of the hour-long show was well-judged, managing to cram in a wide array of inventively showcased skills. Juggling feats and charmingly goofy skits about on love, seduction, bananas – and all the things that can possibly go wrong when all you want is a birthday cake – were interspersed with high-energy, high-skill acrobatics and aerial. The ordinary became extraordinary as the kitchen table was vaulted onto, over and off from all directions, acrobalance was performed on a teetering stack of household appliances, the washing line became a cloud swing, and an old man’s walking frame was whisked into the air to become the frame for a beautiful aerial dance.

As a circus student, I was wowed by the technical skill – it was particularly gratifying to be able to identify aerial moves, especially those that LIT’s Annabel had taught in her workshop the day before (‘bum balance’: impressive enough on an aerial hoop, even more so on a dangling zimmer frame). The kids adored the silliness, slapstick and audience interaction, demonstrating the value of a show with clown at its core – indeed, the only thing they hated was the kissing. Because they are 7 and 9 and KISSING IS GROSS. But after tonight’s performance, we’re all agreed that circus – circus is cooler than ever.


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