Beta Testing – Udderbelly Festival

Circus Geeks, Beta Testing, Rings balls clubs, Udderbelly Festival 2015. Courtesy Joe ClarkJuggling is not a particularly sexy art form. I don’t think the sentence ‘he was such a good juggler I wanted to bite his bum’ has ever been uttered. So it makes sense that Circus Geeks have capitalised on the nerdish nature of juggling to create a cross between The Big Theory and the Big Top, which is currently showing at Southbank’s Udderbelly.

Called Beta Testing, their current show breaks down the science, terminology and statistics of juggling, as well as performing some impressive circus skills using unicycles, bowler hats and chairs. Each of the three performers (Arron Sparks, Jon Udry and Matt Pang) takes on a geeky style persona and has clearly worked hard at their act in order to have the crowd clapping to their tricks.

The trouble is that the nerdy personas the performers have created for themselves lack the showmanship and charisma needed to give circus the ‘wow factor’. There are some very endearing moments that show these guys have heart, such as juggling with tea making utensils or being punished for dropping a ball with an almighty fish-slap, but their humble nature means that their genuinely impressive feats aren’t built up as much as they could be. While I understood that this awkwardness is part of what makes them Circus Geeks and separates them from normal circuses, at times it felt a bit uncomfortable to watch.

Having said that, Beta Testing would make an excellent date night as its quirky and off-beat style is certainly a bit different and combined with a visit to the Udderbelly’s pop-up bar, this show could make for quite a fun night out. Similarly, families looking for something to entertain kids in that awkward ‘tween’ age would be able to enjoy this show with minimal eye-rolling from moody teenagers.

Reviewed by Roz Carter
Photo by: Joe Clark

Beta Testing runs until Sunday 21st June when Bromance will take its place – the final show in the Udderbelly London circus season. Click here for more information