Director: Beau Denning
Reviewer: Deborah Klayman
Founded and produced by Martin Burton of Zippo Circus, Cirque Berserk! is a packed hour showcasing a myriad of circus artists in all different disciplines. From traditional acts such as tumblers and aerialists to daredevil motorcyclists, there is certainly something for everyone.
Opened by the superb Timbuktu Tumblers, Cirque Berserk! gets off to a high-octane, punchy start. There are other awe-inspiring acts to follow, such as the captivating Germaine Delbosq, impressing with both Bolas Argentinas and fiery footwork. There are several changes of pace too, with Four Hands Two Wheels’ graceful act bringing a slower, more melancholy feel.
The numerous acts are undoubtedly highly skilled and fantastic at what they do, however, where Cirque Berserk! struggles is in its staging and design. The decision to use screens either side of the stage is a double-edged sword – it can allow the audience to se better from the back, but lighting to suit it makes the stage incredibly dark. The beautiful aerial work loses all of its wow factor as the audience can barely see the performers. Although billed as ‘real circus made for theatre’, the intimacy of the big top was sadly lacking in these classic circus set-pieces adapted for a proscenium space.
Undoubtedly the star of the show is Brazilian acrobat Paulo dos Santos, who starts off as a clown of sorts, but progresses throughout the hour and by the finale is wearing the ringmaster’s coat. His is the only through-line, and the only thing connecting what otherwise seems like a procession of acts that simply share a stage. There are some sections linked by dancers, but their lacklustre whooping adds little to the production.
What is truly jaw-dropping however, is the appearance onstage of a gigantic robot – it is a shame this is underused, as the children in the audience were awestruck. This is followed by the show-stopping Lucius Team, whose motorcycle finale inside “the ball of death” will certainly have you holding your breath till the curtain call.
Runs until 25 August 2019 | Image: Contribute