Creative Director: Julius Green
Reviewer: Harriet Brace
The post-Christmas and New Year blues may still be lingering for many, especially in a grey and drizzly Glasgow City. But all the fun of the fair is certainly in the air… at least while Cirque Berserk is in town.
The equipment-strewn set, folksy soundtrack and familiar swish of skirts and scent of smoke sends the viewer into the heady midst of the traditional circus. With tumbling, aerial acrobatics, contortionists and a clown act on the cards what’s not to love? Just sit back, relax, and watch the kids’ eyes widen as the tried and tested trickery and trapeze unfolds. Right?
Not on your top hat. Cirque Berserk doesn’t just kick off with a bang, it maintains a thumping pace throughout as each new act completes gravity-defying feats, breathtaking balance stunts and terrifying acts of trust that have the crowd gasping out loud. There’s no down-time; no lengthy set changes or thinly-veiled distractions during a quick costume change. Instead the show focuses on the talent, and there’s no let up in that throughout.
The Timbuktu Tumblers are firm favourites among the audience as they duck and dive across every available inch of floorspace. Jaw-dropping plunges towards a sticky end in front of hundreds of spectators are averted with aplomb by acrobatic artists. Muscular men and women are catapulted skywards in Cuban triumph the Tropicana Troupe. Toni the knife-thrower hurls metal implements at his wife, who takes it all in her stride as the blades miss her all-too-impalable flesh by inches. Meanwhile Vaudeville makes a welcome return to the West Coast stage in Tweedy the Clown and his raucous antics with a ladder and washing line.
However it’s a contemporary addition to the much-loved customary circus acts that makes Cirque Berserk really stand out. The Globe of Terror sees more motorcyclists than seems possible disappear inside it, only to end up upside down and what seems like centimetres from colliding. Of course all emerge unscathed, but the genuine terror is palpable in the auditorium as the blur of helmeted figures whirr their way around the dominating sphere. Combined with some top notch light effects to illuminate the daredevils at their most dangerous, it’s entirely worthy of its name.
Many an eager audience-member may miss the Big Top on first settling into their seat, the rebellious spontaneity of the circus troupe perhaps feeling a bit lost in an urban, theatrical setting. But the glittering Victoriana of the King’s actually lends itself well to this celebration of the travelling fair, complete with added peril for the digital generation.
Anyone who thinks the circus is stuck in the past needs to see Cirque Berserk and rediscover the magic – with a dose of modern mayhem thrown in for good measure.
Runs until Sunday 24 January 2016 | Image: Contributed