Skip to main content

Review of Cirque Berserk! at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

Last October I was invited to go to see a circus by a friend, it was the first that I had seen since I was a kid. It was quite a revelation, and a fantastic afternoon of entertainment. They had moved on quite a bit of course, many of the stunts were more outlandish than that distant time and the dying embers of animals that had still just been present back then were gone. However in essence, the world of the traditional circus remained with the ringmaster, jugglers and the clown. Therefore when booking to see Cirque Berserk! at the Royal & Derngate, I perhaps knew what to expect this time, but also maybe initially concerned that the acts might be a bit samey. However it was far from more of the same in reality, with the exception of the jugglers and clowning (all different performers), the only totally identical act on display was the showstopping Globe of Death.


Cirque Berserk! is sold with the tagline "Real circus made for theatre" and having now seen both versions (tent and theatre) in the last few months, it truly does have a different vibe to it. The most obvious part is the slickness and pace that comes with working in a theatre environment. This show has tremendous drive from the very beginning to the final curtain with directorship (from Julius Green) of exceptional standard. While sitting in a tent offers the fun of the circus of old, this show refines that show into an excellent theatrical piece. There are no awkward pauses, each act eases into the next, often with the exceptional acrobatic performers Timbuktu Tumblers working their magic to bridge the acts. If something is happening behind scenes in preparation for the next performer, something is still happening front of stage to keep the audience entertained.


The show also benefits greatly from a stunning and almost constant soundtrack. If that sounds grating that you suffer music throughout, it really doesn't as this pulsing, mostly electronic sound enhances the entire show. It calms though perfectly for the more gentle balletic style performers Jose and Gaby and becomes silly and comic (with added sound effects) for the slapstick of Tweedy the clown. The whole production is so slick that is manages to highlight more starkly the only real criticism I might lay at the show, and that is of the lighting. While it occasionally provides a great deal to the atmosphere, it is quite often far too dark to illuminate the performers sufficiently. I am all for enhancing the atmosphere, but this tones it down far too low. I hope that it  was just first night at the venue issues going on.

The acts throughout are amazing, top of the bill Globe of Death with The Lucius Team, despite my having seen it before, still unnerves and amazes in equal measure, while Jackie and her strap aerials has its seat clutching moments. The outstanding and equally scary Tropicana Troupe provide a few amazing moments, and you finally feel thankful for their final big stunt that they at last use a safety rope.

Perhaps the least expected, but quite staggering to watch though was a foot juggler! Defying all logic, Germaine Delbosq provides an unnerving level of skill, rotating, catching and juggling an assortment of items. If you have ever tried to pat your stomach and rub your head at the same time, this little act will leave you dazzled.


Star of the show though, if I may be so bold to say so is the "award-winning" Tweedy the clown. A showman of outstanding skills, stage presence and audience rapport. Every time he appeared, you were soon sure that you were in for a treat. Also for anyone wary of clowns, Tweedy is a very un-clown clown, just relying on the the style without the image of the clown of old. No big shoes or red nose going on here. He is quite brilliant, and my personal highlight of a show of endless highlights.

So the circus has gone through many an evolution over the years, but perhaps landing it it the theatre than the tent is an evolution that can only enhance the reputation of the variety show more than ever. Big budget looks, skillful production and a group of 32 brilliant performers. It was a pacy and exceptionally entertaining evening and comes incredibly well recommended.

««««½


Performance reviewed: Tuesday 14th March, 2017 at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton.

Cirque Berserk! runs at the Royal & Derngate until Saturday 18th February, 2017 
and continues its tour. Details at http://www.cirqueberserk.co.uk/

For further details visit the Royal & Derngate website at http://www.royalandderngate.co.uk/


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Cilla - The Musical at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

I have to start with a confession dear reader, what I know about Cilla Black can pretty much be written on the back of the Derngate ticket that I clutched on entering the theatre (and that allows for the advert on the back). I have heard a couple of her tunes of course (more than once) and confess, once again, that I generally didn't like what I heard. I think it's clear that with her natural raw form and voice, "a diamond in the rough" as Brian Epstein, her eventual manager describes her, she a performer that you either love or generally, not hate as such, but perhaps just dislike. I fall in the latter. Curiously as I a forty-year-old, I also don't even fall into the Cilla of hit television either, being a BBC viewing family, I never saw her on TV much when I was growing up.

So, coming almost totally fresh to the world of Cilla, it was a little comforting that for the first act, much of the world of Cilla - The Musical revolves not just around star building Cil…

Review of Woman In Mind by Masque Theatre at The Playhouse Theatre, Northampton

I like Alan Ayckbourn, I may only have seen a few of his vast array of plays previously, but all have been a delight, often crazy yes, but constantly funny, and especially in the second act spiralling often into just on the very edge of believable nonsense. With Woman In Mind, acknowledged by many as one of his finest works, my own personal jury is very much out on whether I liked it or not.
What was very good, mostly, however, were the performances, most especially the two that we are introduced to at the very beginning. The prostrate Susan (Nicola Osborne), with sinisterly lurking rake alongside her, and the bag struggling doctor, Bill (John Myhill).
Nicola Osborne has the unenviable task in this play of never leaving the stage, a feat in itself. Add to this the constant weaving of the character's world (more on this later), and you have a role featuring some significant challenge, one that Osborne ably surmounts. I once described Osborne as a "safe pair of hands" in …

Press launch of Sting's The Last Ship at Errol Flynn Filmhouse, Northampton

On Friday 16th February 2018, I attended the official press launch of The Last Ship. In attendance were the writer of the show, Sting, and cast members for the 2018 UK tour Richard Fleeshman, Charlie Hardwick and Joe McGann, with musical support from Rob Mathes.

During the event, opened entertainingly by producer Karl Sydow, Sting and the cast members performed seven of the songs from the show: The Last Ship (Sting), Dead Man's Boots (Sting and Fleeshman), Sail Away (Hardwick), The Night the Pugilist Learned to Dance (Fleeshman), What Say You Meg? (Fleeshman) and What Have You Got? (Sting and cast).

Each of these songs showed us a great background to the evocative tale that The Last Ship tells, of a community under attack as its crucial shipbuilding industry begins to fail. The performers and Sting himself delivered the songs with huge passion, despite, as Sting himself commented, the earnestness of the hour, with the event beginning at 10 am.

The Last Ship was initially inspired …