It is a long time since I have been to the only circus (a traditional one) I have ever visited, so I was not sure what I was going to see on stage at Cirque Berserk tonight. There were obviously going to be no performing elephants, no clapping seals or other animals doing tricks (that was a plus to start with for me), but I was curious to see how they had updated a very traditional form of entertainment.
The answer to the update question is that they have not really done that at all. Cirque Berserk have added an element of costume and dark theatre to what is otherwise a very traditional "human" circus. Many of the classic circus acts were there on stage tonight - tumblers, contortionists, acrobats, jugglers, knife throwers and comedy acts. The introduction of some daredevil motorcycle stunts added a bit of a new twist.
Cirque Berserk's strength lies not in what the show is, but how they cleverly re-stage and represent traditional acts for a modern audience. Many of the acts on stage tonight were unbelievable in their strength, speed, balance, and high risk moves. The Playhouse stage is a traditional show stage and there was no margin of error tonight for some of these acts if the slightest thing had gone wrong...landing on that hard stage would have caused serious injury to any performer. If Cirque Berserk has a fault, it is that some of the action goes by so quickly that you think "did they really just do that?". Blink and you miss something. The addition of some playback monitors slowing down some of the action would be interesting so that an audience could really see and believe just what really happened in a few seconds on stage.
Unusually for a stage show, Cirque Berserk announced at the very beginning that this was an interactive show. As long as you DO NOT USE FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY, they are happy for you to take photos and leave your phone on to update Facebook etc (my phone is too old to do that though).
Tonight's show was fairly short at roughly two forty-five minute acts with an interval in between, but there was an awful lot packed into this time.
Review by Tom King