Cirque Berserk’s tagline, ‘real circus made for theatre’ hints at the show’s attempt to weave some traditional circus acts into a modern format.
This show has got it all - from acrobats, knife-throwers and jugglers to dare-devil motorbike riders and a transformer-style robot. All acts are of breathtaking quality and there is more than one heart-in-the-mouth moment.
Perhaps pandering to an ever-decreasing attention span that seems to be the modern malaise in this culture of ever-expanding digital media, the acts pop on and off at breakneck speed with barely time to catch your breath in between. It may have been their intention to generate a fever-pitch level of excitement, but the effect is almost the opposite, causing a kind of systematic desensitisation where the extraordinary and the unexpected begin to appear commonplace and mundane.
A clown appears intermittently and could provide some welcome down-time. But the repetitive pratfalls – albeit neatly done – accompanied each and every time by the requisite ‘ba dum tsh’ contrasts starkly with the rest of the show – and not in a good way. This clown, like the show as a whole, needs a story, something to thread it all together and give the audience some sense of a climactic journey.
When the knife-thrower and his troupe parade onto the stage complete with quaint gypsy caravan, his top-hat and ringmaster whip brings the nostalgic whiff of a good, old-fashioned, traditional circus. It also serves as a reminder of the babies that have been thrown out with the bath-water in order to bring this circus show up to date.
The introduction of an old-style ringmaster could thread together what is already an interesting mix of old and new acts, and one who could interact with the audience, and build a sense of mounting excitement, would raise excellent individual performances into a really excellent show.
Runs 10th – 12th March 2016