Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams begins with two boys dreaming of running away to join the circus. Surprisingly, that opening scene is the entirety of the purported narrative and soon a host of performers are tumbling and somersaulting around the stage. They vault ever higher until they form stacks three men high in an energetic opening display.
What follows is even more impressive as two lithe contortionists in snakeskin costumes twist their bodies into a series of unnatural shapes. They show incredible strength and agility, at points climbing on top of each other, and their sinuous movements are perfectly matched by the melismatic vocals of a soulful Ethiopian singer.
For most of the hour, the agile performers are going at breakneck speed and this energy rubs off on an appreciative audience. When a buffoonish clown takes the stage for a few minutes, it's a rare break in this incredibly fast-paced show. But it's also a chance to reflect on the lack of thematic link between the acts, which arguably lets the performance down.
The members of Circus Abyssinia show tremendous skill and deserve all the applause they get, but an hour is ultimately too long for a show with no narrative to hold it together.