Reporter clowns around before Sidmouth show

Sidmouth Herald reporter - Stephen Sumner, has a go at riding a six foot high unicycle under the gui

Sidmouth Herald reporter - Stephen Sumner, has a go at riding a six foot high unicycle under the guidance of entertainer Goronwy Thom. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 9994-17-13AW - Credit: Archant

It’s not all council meetings and interviews at the Sidmouth Herald – there are some chances for clowning around, writes reporter Stephen Sumner.

But instead of running away to join the circus, I decided to head down to the Manor Pavilion to catch up with local street performer Goronwy Thom.

I first spoke to him last month on the telephone, but it wasn’t until we’d hung up that I realised I had seen him at FolkWeek last August – and he had married my sister to another random member of the crowd.

It’s that sort of act that Goronwy and his cabaret troupe, Slightly Fat Features, will be taking to headline the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Their slot at the internationally-renowned celebration means the 31-year-old will miss FolkWeek for the first time in 13 years – and it will surely miss him.

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So Slightly Fat Features are putting on a farewell show at the Manor Pavilion, their only performance of the year.

Ahead of those shows, Goronwy invited me to try out his six-foot ‘giraffe’ unicycle.

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Never one to say no (and, by the way, I have my own, regular-sized one-wheeler), I joined him, and it wasn’t so terrifying.

The Alexandria Road resident has been a street performer all his adult life, and worked as a circus skills teacher, so provided a sturdy support to my many misbalances.

I was a little rusty, but riding a unicycle is much like riding a bike, and being another few feet up almost felt natural – until it came to getting off.

Dismounting involves plummeting to the ground, and while the drop isn’t too far, it takes a little faith.

Being on the stage at Sidmouth’s little theatre made me realise why Goronwy keeps coming back.

Because while international fame looms, he is committed to continue performing in the town at least once a year, especially now he’s laid down roots with his partner and young son.

Slightly Fat Features will be at the Manor Pavilion from 7.30pm on May 29 and 30.

They will go on to perform at the Pleasance Theatre, one of the most prestigious venues at the Edinburgh Festival, from July 31 until August 26.

Tickets for the Manor Pavilion are £8 and available from the box office on 01395 514413.

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