Cirque Berserk describe themselves as ‘real circus made for the theatre’ which is how they came to be on the Theatre Royal stage this week.
They certainly feature a wide range of circus skills in this year which sees the whole genre celebrate its long life with the Circus 250 series of events. There are individual acts of strength, daring, bravery and skills set together in a fast paced theatre show that fills the Norwich proscenium arch to every corner.
Setting the pace from the start the Timbuktu Tumblers are group of dapper dressed deadlock wearing young men with phenomenal skills and speed. They form a human tower as high as the seats in the circle in the blink of an eye, and make their accurate moves look far too easy.
The Mustache Brothers look French but hail from Brazil and pop onto stage several times with their physical clowning. There are knife throwers, contortionists, a foot juggler, several high wire and trapeze performers and a development of the old fairground ‘wall of death’ with motorcycles whizzing around in a metal mesh globe on the stage.
We see Argentinian gauchos using their Bolas to great effect – no really. They are long cords with heavy stones on the end, originally used to fell animals, but here used in breathtaking dance routines.
There is undoubtedly all the spectacle of circus on display, and touring in theatres must make the logistics easier but it also creates a few problems. With motorbikes roaring around on stage and several burning juggling aids this is a smelly show which left me keen to get out into the Norwich traffic for some fresh air. Parents are encouraged to buy various things with flashing lights on them for their offspring to wave around during the show, but those in use near me were so bright and intrusive with their flashing lights that it was hard to concentrate on the rather darker action on the stage itself.
There is a reason why circus is normally held in the big top, with plenty of space and fresh air, and I would love to see Cirque Berserk in this more appropriate setting where the prodigious skills of this well-travelled troupe could be enjoyed with less constraint.
If you like the circus you will enjoy this show with many of the best circus performers showing off their skills, but next time, please let us be outdoors for the fun!
© Julian Swainson 2018
Cirque Berserk, Thursday 5-Friday 6 April at 7.30pm, Friday 6 April at 2pm, and Saturday 7 April at 2pm and 5pm. Tickets £10-£29.50. Suitable for 6+ Discounts for Friends, Corporate Club, Under-16s, Over-60s and Groups. Tickets £10-£29.50
To book, log onto www.theatreroyalnorwich.co.uk or call the box office on 01603 630000.