The high dive of death! Tricks direct from medieval taverns! And <<drumroll please>> perhaps the most revolting trick Hull has ever seen!
Kids will love the gruesome new show that’s rolling up for this year’s International Hanse Day in Hull’s Old Town. Rats, not so much.
Ratcatcher Roger and his “world-famous” Rat Circus is the latest addition to the line-up of medieval-style entertainment on Saturday 12 May, 2018, from 10am to 4pm.
This free, family-friendly event is an annual celebration of Hull’s role in a centuries-old European trade network, the Hanseatic League. This year’s action takes place in Trinity Square and it’s looking set to be a jam-packed day of comedy, crafts and curios.
Ratcatcher Roger, aka professional jester and medieval-style actor Jonathon de Hadleigh, explains: “The ratcatcher show is a fun piece of medieval theatre that I have performed all over England and Australia, on stage and in the round.”
The historic Trinity Square is the perfect location for his Rat Circus act – an hilarious, tongue-in-cheek performance with its roots firmly in the Middle Ages.
“Medieval market places were the venues for the theatre of the time,” says Jonathon. “People saw religious plays and interludes, which had a variety of performances and performers. So medieval people liked to be entertained and laugh, as we do. However, tastes have changed.
“It is with this change of taste that people can expect a Rat Circus, using the tricks that ratcatchers used in taverns from the Middle Ages through to the 19th century.
“In an ancient trick, the character Roger produces a rat from a bag in his mouth, this goes on to climb a spoon and undertake the high dive of death – a circus act of the 19th century. A twist on Shakespeare and pantomime follows.”
That’s not all. The most horrible trick in this medieval ratcatcher’s repertoire would put Ozzy Osbourne to shame.
“The most disgusting trick, from the earliest of times, is to bite the head off a rat,” he says. “This is performed only if requested – as it often is by the children!”
Also look out for another talented jester, What A Palaver, who’ll be providing even more medieval-style laughs throughout the day, adding fire, juggling, stilt-walking and, erm, a guillotine to the mix.
There’ll be stocks for the naughtiest kids (or parents) and roaming musical performances from De Mowbray Musicke, who’ll no doubt be leading the crowds on a merry old dance.
To celebrate Hull’s past and present connections with the Hanseatic League, you’ll also be able to try your hand at 14th-century crafts and watch experts including a medieval fletcher and a colour dyer in action.
While the fletcher crafts longbow arrowheads and the dyer prepares colours for cloth, you can make paper, try weaving and spinning, or have a go at shadow puppetry with Indigo Moon Theatre.
There’ll be more craft opportunities for all ages inside Trinity Market with Traenerhaus, and at Hull Minster, which will be celebrating the first anniversary of its rededication as a minster with live entertainment and children’s activities. The Minster will also host a Festal Choral Evensong at 4pm.
Live medieval-style entertainment in Trinity Square comes from musicians Haut Bois and Quentin Budworth and the Grinnigogs, Beverley Garland Dancers, a musical storyteller and more.
Don’t forget to help Ratcatcher Roger and keep your eyes peeled for those pesky rats – there could be more to them than meets the eye.