Circus company Mamaloucous' - whose new version of Aristophanes' The Birds finishes its premiere season at the National Theatre tonight, 14 August 2002 - has announced a last-minute cancellation of the subsequent regional dates planned for the production.

After the current London fortnight, The Birds was meant to fly off almost immediately on a six-week, five-stop tour, presented in a Big Top tent. The first tour dates were 22 to 26 August 2002 at The Lowry in Salford, where erection of the tent had already begun this week. But those and all subsequent dates at Bristol, Telford, Beverley and Brighton have now been postponed.

In a statement, the company explained: "The production has faced more technical difficulties than were originally anticipated on transferring it into the Mamaloucos circus tent. It has become clear that there is insufficient time available to make the necessary changes to the technical design for the tour without compromising the performers' safety or adversely affecting the artistic integrity of the production."

Part of the National's £1.5 million, five-month Transformation season of new work, The Birds opened to mixed reviews in the NT Lyttelton on 26 July 2002 (previews 22 July). Despite the present difficulties, Mamaloucous says it intends to restage the production in spring 2003.

The Birds combines the modern circus with Aristophanes' classical Greek drama, in a modern version by poet Sean O'Brien. Grecian chancers Pez and Eck envisage a nation where men live as freely as birds. Now they have to convince the oppressed eagles, rooks, finches and owls of their plan - then they must take on the Gods.

Marcello Magni leads a cast of 12 circus performer/actors, directed by Kathryn Hunter with aerial choreography care of Matt Costain. The production is designed by Liz Cooke, with lighting by Paul Anderson, music by Nikola Kodjabashia and sound by Christopher Shutt.

- by Terri Paddock