CirqueDramaNorth East & YorkshirePerformance ArtReview

Cirque Berserk! – Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield

Creative Director: Julius Green

Reviewer: Ruth Jepson

Cirque Berserk! starts with the announcement you never expect to hear in a theatre – keep your phones on, take photos and video, and tweet to your heart’s content. And you will definitely want to (especially when the robot walks out).

The show is a healthy mix of traditional circus fare, like clowning and tumbling, with a modern update of aerial work, physical theatre and burlesque. It’s reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil but taking itself less seriously; Circus of Horrors, but a lot more family friendly.

There are many jaw-dropping acts crammed into what is a relatively short run time (just shy of two hours including an interval -perfect for small bladders). The ticket-selling act is obviously the Globe of Death featured prominently in the promotional materials, and billed as the first time an act of its kind has been staged in the UK – four dirt bikes, one small metal sphere, and the hopes and prayers of the entire audience that there won’t be a horrible vehicular collision. But this is only five minutes of the show. The rest of the acts are equally worth the ticket price. 

The audience favourite is absolutely Tweedy the Scottish Clown. Not the horrifying painted face of childhood nightmares, but a genuinely funny combination of slapstick buffoonery and technical perfection involving ladders, tightropes and a tandem unicycle. Tweedy is genuinely engaged with the audience and had everyone in stitches. Also a treat, are Jose and Gabby, whose Swan Lake inspired physical theatre piece is a calm reprieve from the noise of the circus, while still showing off some enviable couples balances that will have your partner begging you to take dances classes with them. One for the Mums (and anyone with a penchant for a six pack) is the Tropicana Troupe, Cuban spring-boarders, who are both gorgeous and slightly terrifying to watch as they fling each other across the stage. Really, nearly all the acts – from the French foot juggler to the Mongolian Contortionist -are a joy to watch. The only slight let downs are the somewhat bored looking Berserk dancers, who are little more than wiggly set dressing, and the sorely underused giant flame throwing robot.

The entire Cirque Berserk! spectacle is stunningly costumed by Dianne Kelly; lit by Mike Robertson and set to a heart-pounding musical score by Matthew Bugg. A visual feast which will leave you with your stomach in your mouth, and a strong desire to buy a bike, throw some knives around or catapult your sibling into the air using the local park’s seesaw. Highly recommended if you find yourself with a spare night to fill this week in Sheffield.

Runs until Saturday 25 March 2017 | Image: Tristram Kenton 

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Mark Clegg. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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