“Roll up, Roll up, ladies and gentlemen!”
A Brummie Home and Abroad was invited along to the New Alexandra Theatre with Mr Fletche in tow for a night of death-defying and hair-raising tricks. Celebrating 250 years of circus, Cirque Berserk bring their own brand of family-friendly yet edge-of-the-seat circus spectacle to a theatre stage. In a world of TV talent shows, we are somewhat used to being amazed and impressed but nothing compares to seeing the action in real life, being embraced in the smoke, smelling the greasepaint and being dazzled by the footlights. And in a twist from the norm, the audience is actively encouraged to video, tweet, Instagram and Facebook the hell out of the show. Except I found myself not wanting to miss a moment.
Founded by Zippo’s Martin Burton, Cirque Berserk, now in its 5th year, has a multinational and diverse array of highly-skilled performers who have all plied their trade in the traditional circus ring. There are truly jaw-dropping, stomach in the mouth moments and ludicrous risk-taking, all in the name of entertainment. There are circus classics, performed with a twist – aerial performances, silks and hoops, a contortionist who can fit herself into a glass vase, and quirky performances which steal the show – I have a particular affection for the foot-juggling Germaine and bolas-swinging Gabriel.
The audience are spellbound, punctuating breath-holding and nail-biting with applause, whistles and cheers. The tension is broken up with light comedy relief from The Mustache Brothers, a Brazilian pair who perform slapstick and visual jokes with accompaniment from top-notch sound effects. I struggle to find any chemistry between Jose and Gaby, although the headstand finale is incredible and I admire the strength and trust required to perform such an intricate routine. The Timbuktu Tumblers are the most snappily dressed acrobats I’ve ever seen – not a whiff of lycra in sight – and the Tropicana Troupe delight in flinging themselves onto a see-saw from a great height.
In the second half in particular we are introduced to more and more seemingly impossible spectacles. Not for the fainthearted is the introduction of a motorcycle (or four) to the Globe of Death – the ultimate case of boys and their toys. I may be the only one in the audience that was humming the song Cool Rider from Grease 2. Do not try this at home. In fact, don’t try any of this at home, otherwise you may find yourself wedged in a flower vase or throwing flaming kitchen knives at your spouse. A normal night in the Brummie Home and Abroad household.
(I always wonder how people discover they can do these things. I discovered my bendy finger for example all the way back in secondary school when I went to catch a ball in netball, my left-hand ring finger bent backwards…and didn’t stop. But how do you discover you can fit into a glass vase? Or you can fire a bow and arrow with your toes?)
You might still have time to catch this at the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham as it’s on til Sunday, but Cirque Berserk continue their UK tour until September. You can book tickets direct from Cirqueberserk.co.uk or via your local theatre’s website.
*I was invited to attend this press event by The Ambassador Group, however this doesn’t affect my opinion of the show, and an honest review will be given in all cases. Too honest in some cases.
**All photos are courtesy of the Cirque Berserk Press Room