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Theatre Review: Cirque Berserk


“Clowns are the pegs on which the circus is hung” (PT Barnum) and this is the influential role Tweedy the Clown plays in Cirque Berserk as he intermingles with the wide variety of jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, spine-tingling and thrilling acts that the players of this extraordinary circus perform on tour across the UK.

Seen at Woking, this was the very first time I had ever experienced a circus performance and was simply swept away in the phenomena of acrobatics, soaring gymnasts, spectacular fire jugglers and – not to be forgotten – the adrenaline of the motorcyclist ‘Globe of Terror’ starring at the end of each act.

The balance of fear and terror with indulgence and amazement sustained audience participation throughout with laughs and anxious cries filling the theatre. From the opening scene, this theme was instigated and perpetuated by the chorus of gymnasts who, jumping and diving, weaving and flying, balancing and posing, opened the show. Never before had I seen men simply throw themselves at one another, jumping across the stage in bizarre forms and landing in perfect group formation as they arranged themselves in extreme poses all on top of one another. These balancing acts from this extraordinary troupe of gymnasts opening the show wove this theme of flawless yet turbulent balance throughout as they emerged between acts too. It was them, for me, who captured the essence of circus in their fearless yet faultless acrobatics.

Interspersed acts of fire-jugglers, stereotypical circus knife-throwing of a Russian Roulette game, air acrobatics, dancers, drum-players, chanting…all featured in this contemporary circus, fitting into the single auditorium through well-manipulated staging. High praise must go to the staging and arrangement of the incredible management of ‘The Globe of Terror’ wherein four – unbelieveable! – motorbikes crammed into one dome and whizzed round and round, up and down! An adrenaline-provoking star-act for both adults and children alike.

Yet it was Tweedy who merged the ages in his hilarious clown act. Breaking and making a tandem bicycle into a unicycle…involving audience participation in his witty gestures…fooling clumsily across tightropes…climbing ladders and sliding down – painfully…and, in essence, breathing life and humour in to the circle of circus life that engulfed the theatre.

Overall, the mix from outdoor to indoor, of circus with theatre, of fear with amazement, of terror with delight, of skillfulness with awkwardness into one show: the fantastic, not-to-be-missed Cirque Berserk!

Written by Genevieve Cox

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