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 Hansel & Gretel by Warts & All at Delapré Abbey, Northampton

For those unfamiliar with Kneehigh Theatre (from where this show originally comes), the best way of explaining them is that they do traditional things, differently. This performance by Warts and All Theatre of their adaptation of the classic tale of Hansel & Gretel tells you much of what you need to know early on as a (human) rabbit is pinned down upon a table and skinned (half their costume removed). It is just one of an evening of wacky and quite brilliant moments as this production sours mostly for the sky of brilliance.

Handed to a cast of young performers, the result is often disturbingly professional. Sure it is still rough around the edges at times, but perhaps this helps the material. It doesn't actually matter if there is sparring from the cast with the audience, knowing looks and playfulness. It doesn't matter if one of the cast nearly knocks the cymbal of the musicians flying, perhaps it would have been even better if they had, this is anachic fun at its very b…

Review of Great Expectations by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

Market Boy from The Actors Company last year was a remarkable show and is likely to stay with me for a long time, so following it with this year's production was always going to be a tough call and with their production of the epic Dickens classic Great Expectations, they at least didn't lack ambition.

I have to be honest, things for me didn't start well. The first few minutes of this adaptation by Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod is a busy and convoluted sequence moving the opening part of the story in an unclear and often irritating way. For those present not aware of the original story, I wouldn't envy them trying to keep up with what is going on. However much of the trouble of this opening sequence is quickly corrected as scenes become more defined and controlled and the story is allowed to develop at a slower pace.

Perhaps also in the early part, it doesn't help either that the gender-swapped Magwitch played by Salli Bersham is a little too full on with the o…

Review of Once Upon A Grimm Tale by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company (Early) at Judge's Lodgings, Northampton

Once upon a time, there was a brave theatrical reviewer. He lived in a market town in deepest darkest Englaland, where many great and remarkable things of stage did occur. At the centre of this wondrous world of performing spectacles was a place referred to by many as the Royal Derngatus, a place of people pretending to be other people and telling tales of mystery, intrigue and frolics.

Within the fortressed walls of Royal Derngatus, there were a group of fearless players who entertained local folk for no reward, other than the thrill of seeing the joy in the faces of others. Those group of artists went by the name of Actors Companus, which many pronounced carefully when they did say it out loud. This group of merry men and women did have two forms, an early and a late, and but two days before this adventurous evening of forthcoming storytelling, the late group did perform for a third and final time a most amazing feat of theatre, going by the name of Great Expectations.


Our hero of thi…