The circus is coming to Herts – and there’s just one Big Top performance to save the show


circus - Credit: Archant

A millionaire lawyer who turned his back on the City to pursue his dream of owning his own circus is bringing his unique show and free circus skills workshops to Hertfordshire.


circus - Credit: Archant

Gary Stocker, 31, who had been a regular street performer since his teenage years even as he built his whizzkid career, gave up his wealthy lifestyle to set up and run Chaplin’s Circus after teaming up with a friend and fellow street performer.

After a successful tour around southern England last year, Chaplin’s Circus has three stints at venues within easy reach of North Herts coming up, with St Albans, Saffron Walden and Hoddesdon all on the tour schedule.

Inspired by the circus formats of Europe and Asia in particular, the performance is built around a narrative.

Gary explained: “It is August 4, 1924.

“Chaplin’s Circus has just two hours to repay its debts and save itself from bankruptcy and everything is riding on the success of this one performance.

“While the Ringmaster has an exciting plan to bring in the crowds, Chaplin’s creditors will stop at nothing to ensure this performance fails.

Most Read

“The show, which is totally animal free, is aimed at both the youngest of children and the eldest of adults and is a cost-effective, alternative family outing for the holidays.”

For the entire first half, the audience is made to feel as though they are seated backstage, which Gary explained was essential to the success of the story’s format which has veered away from the traditional ‘act after act’ set up of most circuses and focused on more novel takes on traditional feats and the individual characters performing them.

However, as Gary realises an audience coming to see a circus expects the glitz and the glamour of a live performance, in the second half of the production the Big Top is rotated 180 degrees and delivers a spectacular circus show.

Gary himself is the Great Herrmann – the human cannonball who rounds off the show when he is fired across the full length of the stage into a barrel of water, a feat which required the team to create what is arguably the largest touring Big Top in the UK.

Chaplin’s Circus uses West End performers including singer China Soul, the daughter of cult TV detective show Starsky & Hutch star David.

The team is also committed to giving back to the communities it visits, running free circus skills workshops, teaching juggling, hula hooping, ribbon twirling, plate spinning, mime, diabolo, magic tricks, rope walking, balloon modelling, devil sticks, face painting and unicycling.

Gary said: “This year our focus is on charities which help support young families and single mothers, in particular.

“We believe that as a business we should make a positive contribution to each community we visit and this is one of the ways we hope to realise that vision.”

You can find full details of prices, including special kids for free offers, and show times online at