18 September 2018 (released)
19 September 2018
The tradition of the circus reaches back into the depths of world history. Since ancient times across many societies, we’ve been entertained by acrobats, dare devil risk takers and jokers with pinpoint comic timing. Cirque Berserk brings that centuries old tradition right up to date.
They’ve not lost the sense of danger and excitement from the big tent by bringing it indoors to the more genteel theatre. This is Zippo’s circus re-choreographed for the stage. The smells and sounds of a 1930s fairground greet us as we take our seats. It’s early in the week but the theatre is almost full; the Circus has the power to draw crowds of all ages. Unusually for a theatre performance, we’re encouraged to keep our phones on, video, snap and post to social media, it’s a refreshingly modern invitation to interact with the show and a wise move in helping to market it.
The pace of the performance is perfectly timed from the start. There’s an energetic flow from acrobats with a giant skipping rope to dancers entwined in swathes of material hanging from the ceiling. A charismatic drummer who looks like a cross between Captain Jack Sparrow and a cheeky Jack Black welcomes us to the ‘party’ with impressive drumming and his twirling balls.
A Chaplinesque comedy duo punctuate the evening with slapstick acrobatics and mimes that get the audience tittering with light relief in between the breath-taking stunts performed with fire, knives and gravity defying aerial leaps.
The ‘cage of death’ sits ominously at the back of the stage throughout the show. Just before the interval, it’s brought to the front and we are greeted with the smell of petrol and the buzz of wasp like motorcycles which enter the small cage and whirl around each other at precarious speed.
The second half begins with a darker theme as a group of performers troop ominously across the stage clothed like the steam punk baddies from Mad Max. The music perfectly matches the tone and speed of each act. We move through a succession of performances with roots from across the globe from balletic grace to high octane, high energy dance numbers and drum beats that set the blood thrumming. All accompanied by throaty yelps, shrills and laughs of triumph. The daring performers clearly enjoy their prowess and their enthusiasm is infectious. This doesn’t belie the pervasive element of danger and the occasional small slips and mistakes only highlight the supreme skill, strength and bravery needed to perform some of the stunts we witness. Whilst the execution isn't always slick, the imperfections make this live performance feel gritty and real. Cirque Berserk certainly offers a thoroughly enjoyable evening out full of thrills and spills.