As a Tiger in the Jungle, 4 Stars

As a Tiger in the Jungle
Jacksons Lane
10th to 11th Oct 2017

As a Tiger in the Jungle is produced by an international partnership between Ali Williams, ex-Artistic Director of the pioneering Welsh circus company NoFit State, and Norwegian company Circus Xanti.
When Renu was 5 years old and Aman was 6, they were taken from their Nepalese villages and sold into circus across the Indian border, where they faced beatings and emotional abuse amid exhausting four-show days.
They were eventually rescued – Aman at the age of 9 and Renu when she was 14 – by members of ChoraChori Nepal, a charity set up to secure the freedom of Nepalese child slaves.
Renu and Aman joined a group of ex-circus slaves who decided to make positive use of the skills once forced upon them to form Circus Kathmandu, dedicated to making socially conscious, contemporary circus – as opposed to that of the traditional Indian circuses from which they had been freed.
The 11-person Circus Kathmandu developed their intense circus training into artistic expertise with help from 50 international volunteers, including Ali Williams, who joined the company in 2013 for a year-long sabbatical. She worked with Sverre Waage from Circus Xanti to arrange an international tour for Circus Kathmandu’s first full-length show, Swagatam (‘Welcome’), which included stops at the Circus Village Festival and the Circus Big Top at Glastonbury Festival.
In 2017 Renu and Aman were picked from the company to develop As a Tiger in the Jungle, working again with Ali Williams and Circus Xanti to arrange an international tour.”

With twins Renu and Aman Tamang, accompanied by Loan TP Hoang, you’re assured an accomplished Circus performance and plenty of theatre dramatic aplomb. However what makes this performance outstanding is how and where they learnt their skills.

You hear about human trafficking on the news, you hear about horrific oppresion in countries like North Korea, but you rarely confront it and hear their stories directly in front of you. Well, at Jacksons Lane you can meet 3 performers who have suffered the fate of being trafficked into an Indian Circus, trained with barbaric methods we petition against when used on animals, and yet through all this they admit they would enjoy performing despite the harsh training regime (4am to 9am daily training sessions), 4 show days, and punishments if they made mistakes.

Well, this circus show has this profound underlying background story, their skills are superb, and their performance mesmerising. As you watch it seems out of place to applsud with joy as they tell you how they learnt their skills and then demonstrate them, somehow, our empathy keeps us quiet. A very strange atmosphere as you consider the horrors of the world outside the beauty of their art.

The Technical production values are exactly right. The Sound Effects match, the lighting is moody or expansive where it should be, the costumes and Set Design are just right, the rigging and structure feels integrated for the aerial acts. It adds interest that Aman manually counter-weights his twin to lift her soaring into the air. The pace of the show and the balance between dramaturg and circus acts juggle together. The ceremonial sections display an interesting socio-culture.

The applause, stored up through the show, erupts at the end and they come back for a repeat curtain call.

“As a Tiger in the Jungle” is likely to have an unforgettable life-long profound effect on you. Only 2 shows at Jacksons Lane so be careful not to miss it!

Photo credit Tom Caldino



Show: As a Tiger in the Jungle
Company: Ali Williams Productions & Circus Xanti
Dates: Tuesday 10 – Wednesday 11 October 2017
Time: 8pm
Tickets: £10–£18.95
Age guidance: 12+
Venue address: Jacksons Lane, 269a Archway Road, London, N6 5AA
Twitter: @jacksons_lane
Instagram: jacksons_lane