Cirque Berserk, Festival Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Cirque Berserk
Julius Green (creative director), Dede McGarrity (choreographer), Sean Cavanagh & associates (set design), Mike Robertson & associates (lighting design), Matthew Bugg (sound design), Dianne Kelly (costume design).
Lucius Team, Timbuktu Tumblers, Tropicana Troupe, Adi, Kremena, Germaine, Luciano Gabriel, Duo Benelo, Tweedy, Odka, Billy, Stefanie, Jackie, Toni, Zula.
Running time

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