Review: Astley’s Astounding Adventures at the New Vic Theatre *


This is the New Vic Theatre’s most ambitious show to date. Directed by Theresa Heskins and written by Staffordshire-born Frazer Flintham, it tells the story of Philip Astley – the father of the modern circus. Born in Newcastle-under-Lyme in 1742, Astley rose from humble beginnings to become the international impresario who invented circus as we know it today. Astley’s Astounding Adventures was commissioned as part of the New Vic’s Circus Past, Present and Future season, which celebrates the 250th anniversary of the art form. The show, which combines theatre with circus, is co-directed by Vicki Amedume, who also provides circus choreography). We were invited to watch Astley’s Astounding Adventures and here’s our review of it.


What we thought of the show?

Although the New Vic isn’t a circus big top, its circular stage provides the perfect setting to tell the story of the original ‘greatest showman’. With the audience surrounding the performers, it easily feels as if you’re inside one of the original 18th-century circus arenas.

Astley’s Astounding Adventures pulls off the impressive feat of threading together spectacular aerial displays and other circus stunts with a stage play. It also manages to enthral both children and adults alike (I was joined by my husband, our eight-year-old son and his 12-year-old cousin, and we were all thoroughly entertained).

Each member of the multi-skilled cast delivers a captivating performance, and various elements of circus feature, from juggling and trick riding to acrobatics and fire displays.

And they say the ‘show must go on’, which is certainly the case for cast member Andrew Pollard, who performs from a seat beside the stage owing to the cast on his leg. But this inconvenience in no way hampers his performance. The production may chart the most significant parts of Astley’s life, but it’s definitely no history lesson. Packed with comedy (not only from the clowns), it’s a riotous, spectacular celebration of the wonders of the circus.

So what are you waiting for? Roll up, roll up!



Danielle Bird                             Patty Jones

Gareth Cassidy                         Alfie Burrell

Jason Eddy                                Charles Hughes

Michael Hugo                           Zipper

Nickcolia King-N’Da                 John Astley

Luke Murphy                            Billy the Little Military Horse/Dibdin

Andrew Pollard                        Colonel West/King George III

Nicholas Richardson               Philip Astley



How much are the tickets?

Tickets range from £14.50 to £24. Concessions receive a £2 discount, while there are also discounts of £2 for groups of 10 or more. To find out more about tickets and discounts, visit the theatre’s website (see below).


How do I book tickets?

Visit the New Vic’s website: or call the box office on 01782 717962. (A transaction fee of £1 per ticket applies when booking online.)


When is Astley’s Astounding Adventures being performed?

The show will start this Saturday and continue until 28 July 2018.  There will be evening performance at 7.30pm and matinees on selected dates at 2.15pm. For full timing details visit New Vic Theatre’s website.


Where is New Vic Theatre?

Etruria Rd
01782 717962

Things to note: 

  • The New Vic welcomes all customers and is committed to providing access to the arts for all.
  • Free parking is available close to the theatre entrance for Blue Badge holders (reserve a space with the box office).
  • Automatic doors and level access into the foyer, ramped access to the auditorium on the ground floor and lift access to the first floor.
  • Wheelchair spaces on both the ground and first floor.
  • Disabled toilets on both levels.
  • Induction loop system (not available for amplified performances and an infrared-assisted hearing system).
  • Baby-changing facilities available.
  • Assistance dogs are welcome, and water will be provided. If you wish to take your dog into the auditorium, let the box office know when booking.
  • The balcony seating is accessible by stairs only, is about 30ft above the main stage and isn’t recommended for very young children and those with mobility concerns.
  • There’s a captioned performance on July 24 at 7.30pm, a relaxed show on July 26 at 2.15pm and an audio-described performance at 2.15pm on July 28.

By Colette Warbrook



About The Victoria Theatre

The Victoria Theatre Company was the first professional company in Britain to perform permanently in the round – that is, with the audience on all sides of the acting area. Today, The New Vic is known both for its professional productions and for its award-winning work in the community.   The company’s first base was Scarborough from which it toured to towns without their own theatres, taking the ‘theatre’ with it – raked platforms providing in-the-round seating for 250. Newcastle-under-Lyme was visited regularly and a permanent North Staffordshire home was planned. On 9 October 1962, a converted cinema opened its doors as a theatre, an event that received no mention in the national press.  In 1983 an appeal was launched to raise funds for a new theatre.  With local donations totalling over £1 million, the New Vic opened in August 1986.  In the years since, the New Vic’s work has developed an increased national and international reach with productions transferring to London and Manchester, and partnerships formed with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre Studio.

About Circus Past, Present and Future

The New Vic’s Circus Past, Present and Future programme has been made possible thanks to support from Arts Council England’s Ambition for Excellence programme. NoFit State Circus’ production of Lexicon is supported by the Arts Council of Wales and Arts Council England.  Circus Past Present and Future has been created by the New Vic in partnership with NoFit State Circus, Newcastle-under-Lyme Business Improvement District, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, The Victoria & Albert Museum, The Brampton Museum and Art Gallery, The Philip Astley Project, Circus Works, Circus Futures, Roundhouse, London, The University of Sheffield, Upswing, Circus 250 and the New Vic led Creative People and Places Programme, Appetite. More information about Philip Astley and his extraordinary legacy is available from The Philip Astley Project and the Van Buren Organisation.


You may want to read this : 

Me and My Bee at the Sherman Theatre

Review: Agatha Christie’s Love From a Stranger heads to The Lowry

Review: Opera North’s Madama Butterfly Arrives at The Lowry, Manchester

Review: Legally Blonde The Musical arrives at The Regent Theatre

Anna of the Five Town’s Photography Exhibition


* We were provided with press tickets in exchange for a review. All opinions are our own.


  1. July 15, 2018 / 6:27 pm

    Aww I love going to the theatre, but since having children I think I’ve only been twice. I can’t wait until our children are old enough to come with us 🙂

    • yeahlifestyle
      July 16, 2018 / 8:34 am

      There are a lot of shows catered for little ones too, do follow us as we will share these

  2. July 15, 2018 / 7:52 pm

    this seems very ‘cirque’ so sounds like something my family and I would enjoy – looks so bright and colourful 🙂

    • yeahlifestyle
      July 16, 2018 / 8:33 am

      Absolutely Rebecca, we know you would love it too!

  3. Candy
    July 15, 2018 / 9:08 pm

    Interesting with the show being circular. Think it would be fun to go and see. Many kids don’t know about this type of show.

    • yeahlifestyle
      July 16, 2018 / 8:32 am

      The theatre is circular Candy, hence the performers and stage is in the centre with seats all around. Great exposure about circus and what it is for little kids.

  4. July 15, 2018 / 11:01 pm

    This sounds like such an amazing show, definitely something I know Jack would enjoy!

    • yeahlifestyle
      July 16, 2018 / 8:31 am

      Glad to hear that Rebecca, hope you are able to catch it with Jack

  5. Aireona
    July 16, 2018 / 2:57 pm

    Looks like a really interesting show! It has the “Greatest Showman” feel, with the circus vibes and all. Seems like it would be the perfect night out. Also, you have amazing pictures of the show! That is hard to do!

    • yeahlifestyle
      July 16, 2018 / 5:03 pm

      Yes perfect for a couple or a family day out. Thank you, the photos were sent to us by The New Vic Theatre

  6. Elizabeth O
    July 16, 2018 / 3:31 pm

    This looks amazing, it seems very “The Greatest Showman” which is totally all the rage right now! I bet you had such an amazing time.

    • yeahlifestyle
      July 16, 2018 / 5:03 pm

      Yes we did enjoy watching it and yes it was very much like the Greatest Showman

  7. July 17, 2018 / 6:47 am

    The theatre sounds worth the visit alone but what a great show it sounds just up my street and a really reasonable price too to be affordable for all the family x

    • yeahlifestyle
      July 17, 2018 / 8:40 am

      Thanks Kitty, hope you are able to catch the show sometime

  8. Blair Villanueva
    July 17, 2018 / 10:58 am

    This is an awesome experience. I love watching live performances, and I always went home feeling mesmerized.

    • yeahlifestyle
      July 17, 2018 / 1:01 pm

      So glad to hear that Blair, we love a good theatre performance too

  9. July 17, 2018 / 9:48 pm

    Here is Seattle area we have some great theaters and fun summer productions, but we have not been yet this season because we also have tons of highway rebuilding happening like the I5 Revive which keeps us from the city

    • yeahlifestyle
      July 18, 2018 / 1:26 pm

      Hope you do catch some fun show at your place Erin

  10. July 18, 2018 / 1:00 pm

    What a fun and exciting show this looks. I am a big fan of the circus so this sounds like something I would enjoy. I have to admit with such a low price for the tickets I am very tempted to get online and see if I can get myself there!

    • yeahlifestyle
      July 18, 2018 / 1:21 pm

      Oh such fab news Tanya, hope you can make it to the show

  11. July 18, 2018 / 8:07 pm

    He still performed with a cast on? How did it go? I’ve never seen a performance where one of the members had a cast on

    • yeahlifestyle
      July 19, 2018 / 7:25 am

      Yes he did and he did it magnificently! Well this is a circus show so anything can happen x

  12. July 18, 2018 / 9:04 pm

    Oh wow this looks like so much fun! I myself haven’t really been to any circus-style shows, but I do love the theater! I will definitely need to not only add this to my bucket list but also cross it off lol!

    • yeahlifestyle
      July 19, 2018 / 6:53 am

      Hope you do Tiffany, its a fab show to watch and our kids loved it

  13. July 19, 2018 / 12:30 am

    It looks like it was a great show, and like you had a great time! I can’t wait to be able to take my son to shows like this. Thanks for sharing!

    • yeahlifestyle
      July 19, 2018 / 6:52 am

      Hope you do get the chance Nicole, its a fab show and worth watching!

  14. July 19, 2018 / 4:18 am

    What a great venue to indulge yourself in the art for a night. I would love to experience the VIC Theater one day . . .

    • yeahlifestyle
      July 19, 2018 / 6:41 am

      Hope you do get the chance Tiffany, its a great place!

  15. Ada
    July 19, 2018 / 7:08 am

    This sounds like such a great show! I would so love to visit the VIC theater one day!

    • yeahlifestyle
      July 19, 2018 / 3:16 pm

      Hope you do Ada, you will love it there

  16. Jan F
    July 19, 2018 / 8:55 am

    It looks like it was a great show, I love going to the theatre!

    • yeahlifestyle
      July 19, 2018 / 3:15 pm

      Yes you must not miss this Jan

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