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Theatre Review: Cirque Berserk at Theatre Royal Rocks the House with Sex, Death and Leotards

28 June 18 words: Adrian Reynolds

We went to Theatre Royal to check out Cirque Berserk...

The Globe of Death by The Lucius Team - Photo Credit: Piet Hein-Out

There’s something magical about circus, which includes both the transcendent woo meanings of that word, and the hokey dove-smuggling stuff. That’s not a criticism; I enjoy both aspects, and they’re on full display in Cirque Berserk’s show. Where else will you encounter a troupe of dreadlocked acrobats playing human Tetris? A Mongolian woman trapped in a jar, who escapes it to fire arrows with her feet? Muscled dudes in chainmail jeggings? Brazil’s answer to the Chuckle Brothers?

The internationalism of the show is a joy. Make the most of it while it lasts. A guy dressed as a pirate with full cavalier do twirls Argentinian-style bolas at frightening speeds, creating sparks and percussion as they circle his coiffure. His French sidekick later juggles a flaming candelabra with her feet while juggling silver balls. Cubans clamber onto ladders and drop onto seesaws that catapult colleagues into multiple somersaults. It’s enough to give Nigel Farage apoplexy.

From start to finish, the whole spectacle is a thing of wonder. I spend far too much time welded to a chair picking out letters on a keyboard. Give it a few years and a genetically modified pigeon will be doing these reviews. Seeing people who get on with their bodies like I get on with my fridge is humbling. I’d never wanted to dangle upside down from a length of ribbon or limbo under a flaming bar before but seeing the evident pleasure people have doing that stuff, it’s clear I’m missing out.

The range of shapes and sizes of bodies is a wonder in itself. These people are athletes, but they’re not ergonomically designed size-six models. Some of them are more buff than others, if pecs appeal is your thing, but there are also chunkily constructed women and men who have more than a passing acquaintance with the high-calorie end of the menu.

If I’ve got criticisms, they’re minor. The music is set to stun pretty much throughout, whether with orchestral crescendos, bombastic goth rock, or what I’m assuming is electro-swing. Not a whiff of subtlety, and it made the abrupt end of the first half more clumsy; it didn’t finish so much as just stop, then start again after we’d bought ice creams and gone for a wee. Anyway, minor drawbacks. Get yourself to Cirque Berserk pronto and take a kiddy for good measure.

Cirque Berserk is at Theatre Royal from Tuesday 26 June - Sunday 1 July 2018

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