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 March 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/


Popular posts from this blog

Review of Blue/Orange at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

The challenging and socially relevant Blue/Orange by Joe Penhall was published in 2000 and back then, this caustic exploration of mental health, and more specifically black mental health issues, was a tremendously relevant play. When it debuted on stage in London, the cast of just three was played by Bill Nighy, Andrew Lincoln and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Director James Dacre doesn't have those names to play with so much in his cast, however here, he has worked with the writer himself to rework the play for a more modern audience. Does it still shock, and is the relevance still there today? Sadly, perhaps, the answer is yes, as doctors Bruce Flaherty and Robert Smith come to verbal blows over the health of patient Christopher, at times, you feel 21 years shed little light on how mental health is approached. Many references in the script, still sit unquestionably in the year 2000, however, with this reworking, one thing has changed dramatically. In the original version of the play, the two

Review of Shrek (NMTC) at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

Three and a half years ago, in a land far far away, in a world very different to the one we are now in, I saw the touring professional production of Shrek The Musical , it was a mixed bag of quality, tilted extremely heavily in favour of one particular character (not the one you might expect) and not firing on all cylinders much of the time. One and a half years after my last visit to the Derngate theatre, I return to see the homegrown Northampton Musical Theatre Company's own take on the very same show. Would they be able to breathe more life into the show than the professionals did in that distant land? It is a bit of a yes and no really. Pretty much all of this is done to the best possible standard, and at times, with being an amateur show you could easily forget, they all have normal day jobs. The show oozes professional quality at times. The set looks magnificent, the costumes (from Molly Limpet's Theatrical Emporium) are superb, and as ever with NMTC, the backstage team c

Review of Hacktivists by Ben Ockrent performed by R&D Youth Theatre at Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton

The National Theatres Connections series of plays had been one of my highlights of my trips to R&D during 2014. Their short and snappy single act style kept them all interesting and never overstaying their welcome. So I was more than ready for my first encounter with one of this years Connections plays ahead of the main week of performances at R&D later in the year. Hacktivists is written by Ben Ockrent, whose slightly wacky but socially relevant play Breeders I had seen at St James Theatre last year. Hacktivists is less surreal, but does have a fair selection of what some people would call odd. Myself of the other hand would very much be home with them. So we are presented with thirteen nerdy "friends" who meet to hack, very much in what is termed the white hat variety. This being for good, as we join them they appear to have done very little more than hacked and created some LED light device. Crashing in to spoil the party however comes Beth (Emma-Ann Cranston)