Creative Director: Julius Green
Reviewer: Victoria Bawtree
Circus meets West End in this gloriously quirky and creative show. Performers from across the world are represented here with an endless variety of traditional and contemporary skills entwined. Impressively, what might have been a simple variety show becomes a unique and unified production through careful staging and storytelling.
Apart from one specific stunt, there are no safety wires or devices, lending several heart-in-mouth moments for an audience on the edge of its seat. At times, there is a traditional and skilled vaudeville feel and at others, it’s simply plain daredevil dangerous.
The show is cleverly backed by an interactive music score, from perfectly timed slapstick sound effects, through adrenaline-fuelled beats for suspense (thankfully not too loud) to pastiche-style music to accompany the circus coming to town in Act 2.
In a bold statement, the Berserk Team states: ‘This is an interactive performance. Please DO NOT switch off your phones. Instead, text, Tweet and Facebook all you like’. This audience did not abuse the privilege – most were obviously too gripped by the performance to want to view it through a phone screen, but there were moments when the phones came out in abundance. Who can blame them – it felt that sharing the experience just had to be done.
The massive coup de théâtre was, without doubt, the daredevil Lucius Team and The Motorcycle Globe of Death, seen for the first time on stage in the UK. While Act 1 ends with a ‘gentle’ taster of two bikers in the globe together circumnavigating a lone female at the centre, the finale raises the roof by bringing in four: it has to be seen to be believed. The Timbuktu Tumblers, a troupe of seven acrobats, are a real linchpin in this production. Together they create human sculptures; limbo to the height of a bottle (under fire) and perform extraordinary acrobatic feats with and without props. The Bolas Argentinas bring ‘music and movement’ to a new level as they create complicated rhythms from the weights of the Bolas (a throwing weapon generally seen in cowboy films) and combine it with impressive drumming and choreography. Germaine Delbosq, first seen wielding the bolas in Act 1 returns as a foot-juggler in the second half, an act that beautifully captures the traditional with a contemporary twist.
Those currently breathing a sigh of relief that there has been no mention of the dreaded circus clown need to read on. The Mustache Brothers from Brazil are clowns, but not as you might think. There is only the slightest hint of traditional clown makeup – the moustaches are their USP – and there are no garish colours or over-the-top costumes. The pair are extraordinarily talented and they work together in complete harmony at every level: from razor-sharp timing in moments of slapstick, through utterly joyous moments of child’s play to amazing acrobatic feats (at times gently mimicking previous acts) of which their fellow cast members would be justly proud.
This production has a wide audience appeal: kids and adults are equally and royally entertained. While there are one or two slower moments which are a little over-reliant on the soundtrack for their suspense, overall the show will leave you wanting more and, indeed, wanting to share a unique experience.
Runs until 1 September 2018 and on tour