The Rastelli Clowns Performing At Zippos Circus

The Italian family of Rastelli Clowns made their first UK big-top appearance at the Crystal Palace Grand Continental Circus in the winter of 1934-5 and over the ensuing decades tumbled their way across the country, their skills being handed down from generation to generation. Then something happened. In the 1990s, circuses changed. Audiences wanted (or thought they wanted) something a bit more edgy. Death-defying acts involving chainsaws and skin-tight leatherwear were in. Sad-faced old men in pancake and fake noses were out.

Mercifully, for those of us who missed this pure, classical entertainment form, Zippos Circus has reintroduced them to the 2014 line-up, with Oreste Jnr, the grandson of the founder, at the core of their sax-playing, gracefully goofy turn. It’s not difficult to see what makes this circus more appealing than some of their competitors.