Cutttthhhhhbert at Giffords Circus

‘My name is Cuttttthhhhbert,” Giffords new clown announces, spitting all over his huge, manly side-kick Merlin the Magician. Not clown in a big nose, red wig and enormous shoes type of way. No Cuttttthhhhbert is much more funny and original than that.

Cuttttthhhhbert (Tyler West) hails all the way from New York, and while his pert feet have big boots to fill, (Tweedy has ‘taken a break’ to start his own circus, READ ABOUT IT HERE), the American’s small but mighty punch makes him a worthy contender.

The cast of Avalon

Yes, Giffords is back at Blenheim Palace with Avalon for its longest ever tour which runs right through to September.

Avalon is, of course, set in King Arthur’s colourful, medieval world of pageantry and legend, complete with a portcullis, knights, Escoffion headwear, horses, dogs and an endless cycle of exotic street entertainers.

Merlin’s fire-eating

Less whimsical and ethereal than anything founder Nell Gifford produced, writer and director Cal McCrystal has brought a more accessible circus to town, complete with sweet throwing, birthday mentions and audience participation.

And if it takes a while to warm up, that indefinable Giffords magic soon starts to creep in, helped by some familiar faces – actor and singer Nell O’Hara returning as Queen Guinevere and magician Maximiliano Stia as Merlin.


Not sure about the popcorn or card-trick sequence, but Giffords soon gathered momentum, the acts coming out bigger, better and more awe-inspiring as the show went on. The second half was electric.

King Arthur (Nick Hodge)

Favourite moments? The fire eating, the adorable, clever and naughty dogs, the sweet miniature pony, the acrobats, roller-skating, comedy, sword-fighting, magic, head-swapping and the grand finale, when the audience joins in for a mass celebratory dance.

Cuttttthhhhbert‘s outfit changes, (the hennin headwear was glorious, see main pic), his mishap on roller-skates, (incredibly difficult to make it look so accidental), and his penchant for one of the dads who had to keep getting up on stage, were hilarious.

Cuttthhhhbert in Avalon

And so Giffords rolls on, never standing still, and if becoming more mainstream and commercial, and less bohemian, is working for them, then so be it. Survival is the name of the game, and surviving in style they are. Giffords is still head and shoulders above everything else.

Giffords Circus is at BLENHEIM PALACE until May 3, then STONOR PARK July 11 – 22, and BARRINGTON July 25-August 5. For more info go to