Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch

25/01/2020 - 25/01/2020

World Buskers Festival 2020 | BREAD & CIRCUS

Production Details

The cream of the crop of busking and ticketed shows in the first half of the festival!  

It’s the annual festival of big laughs, big talent and even bigger personalities all set in the beautiful Isaac Theatre Royal; because sometimes we like to get super fancy.

Come to the First Half Gala to see the cream of the crop of busking and ticketed shows in the first half of the festival.

If you can’t make the First Half or you came away wanting MORE, then join us for the next round of not-to-be-missed festival highlights at the Second Half!

Don’t miss out on tickets, this is a sell-out festival favourite every year.

Please note: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Reuben Kaye, who was previously advertised as the host of the Big Festival Gala, will not appear at this event.


Isaac Theatre Royal
26 Jan 2020

Variety , Theatre , Comedy ,

2 hrs incl. interval

A mixed bag in terms of consistent quality and entertainment value

Review by Tony Ryan 27th Jan 2020

An overall impression of ‘Ho Hum’ is my dominant reaction to this ‘Best of the Festival’ selection.  

The evening comprises several acts that I’d already seen at one or another of last year’s Galas, some with little or no alteration, quite a high proportion of cabaret-style performances and no audience participation. And, although most of the acts include some humour, there is very little actual comedy and almost nothing at all (apart from one act that I mention below) that explores any thought-provoking aspects in the way that so many ‘fringe’ acts at other festivals often do.

Even so, there are a couple of stand-out highlights in tonight’s gala. Top of my list is Frickin Dangerous Bro whose relaxed (to the point of seeming almost under-rehearsed) and engaging style immediately wins me over. Their casually introduced skit cleverly juxtaposes expectations with contrary results in a way that challenges our intuitions and makes us aware of the dangers of making assumptions.

The clean-cut teacher (James Roque) is a perfect foil for the scruffy and sullen schoolboys played by Pax Assadi and Jamaine Ross (whose engaging personality and quirky sense of humour I well remember from his days as a real schoolboy). Their skit ends as casually as it begins with a throw-away “that’s it”; but the act brings a welcome lift towards the end of the evening after the rather bland routine of so much else.

Another highlight is Flo & Joan, whose show I reviewed a few days ago. Despite having seen their material just two days earlier, the excerpts tonight are well worth a repeat and ‘The Lady in the Woods’ seems funnier than ever when I know what’s coming next in each verse of this clever and brilliantly delivered song. Part of the enjoyment tonight comes from observing and sharing the audience’s reaction as each new alliterative punchline hits home. And it’s one of the few acts in this gala where the audience reaction is genuine and spontaneous.

At least four of the other performers openly demand that we “go wild” or clap or cheer for various parts of their acts and, while this is common in busking shows and can often add to the excitement or comedy of the material, tonight it’s too often a bit cheesy.

But full marks to this gala audience who consistently respond with positive enthusiasm, and willingly obey all requests to react as required. And even though, like me, many will already have seen some of these acts before, it’s always good to be reminded of some of the best of those moments. In this category, Daredevil Chicken Club’s mouth-to-mouth banana routine seems even funnier and more cringeworthy this time round, and Pancho Libre’s jaw-dropping skill with a giant hula hoop can hardly fail to astonish.

Hannah Cryle’s German Wheel circus routine, Sublimit’s Sushi Show and gymnastics, The Modern Maori Quartet’s Maori showband act, Sven Ratzke’s David Bowie impersonation (along with his very fine pianist) and host Shay Horay’s continuity patter all have their moments, and all demonstrate genuine skill and imagination, but these acts are possibly more effective in their intended context of street acts or full shows. Even Misha Markarov’s mind-blowing contortions and Jess Mews’ hula hoop performance, two of the highpoints that I identified in my review of Blanc de Blanc, come across less effectively in the context of this Gala.

So, although a mixed bag in terms of consistent quality and entertainment value, the best acts in this first of two Festival Galas are well worth a night out at this year’s Bread and Circus World Buskers Festival.


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