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 Disney's High School Musical by NMTC Youth Society at the Cripps Hall Theatre, Northampton

As a regular theatre-goer, and indeed reviewer, I have learnt over the years that not all theatre is really for everybody. It's pretty obvious a statement really, but with reviewers, unlike regular theatregoers, you end up by default attending shows you might not dream of going to see as a normal customer. Maybe High School Musical is one pretty close to the top of the list I would only see on "official reviewing duty", as it's not really for a 40-year odd person. However, beyond that, the Northampton Musical Theatre Company Youth Society has come up with a really pretty impressive production of Disney's classic teen musical.

This is a very dramatic departure from the inaugural production of the Youth Theatre in 2018, Les Misérables (much more my thing), however, perhaps unsurprisingly it is better suited to the performers here. Their enthusiasm is even more evident to that previous production. Here, unlike the horrors of revolution-torn France, they can have fu…

Review of The Full Monty at Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton

The 1997 film The Full Monty is one of the best regarded of relatively recent British films, due to it being both a warm and emotionally strong tale, solid comedy and a wealth of acting talent, and it's no surprise that its very theme has spawned an immensely successful touring stage version. It literally overflows with the opportunity to be performed in front of a, probably mostly female, audience, well, the final scene does, in any case. However, what of the rest, and how about for a male audience member? So to speak. Well, it was time to find out.

The first thing that is apparent from The Full Monty stage show, is how faithful this is to the film. Much of the show is what you have seen if you have seen the film, but translated cleverly to the stage, it feels just that little more real and gritty as well. It opens with a nicely staged scene of darkness and flashes of a torch as Gaz (Gary Lucy), his son Nathan (Fraser Kelly) and Dave (Kai Owen) break into their former factory wo…

Review of The Bodyguard at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

The 1992 film The Bodyguard starring Kevin Costner and the acting debut for singing megastar Whitney Houston, was a slightly average romantic thriller, which is really mostly remembered for its musical turns from Houston, so, it is perhaps surprising that it took a whole twenty years to make it's transition to the stage as a musical version. Premiering in London in December 2012, ten months after Houston's tragic death, the show has had great success around the world, and with this, it's second UK tour, has a recognisable face in the star role, of Alexandra Burke, former X-Factor winner (curiously not mentioned in her programme biog).
The Bodyguard follows the story of former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard Frank Farmer (Benoît Maréchal) who is hired to protect multi-award-winning music star Rachel Marron, following her receiving threats from a stalker.
It's clear from the bold opening performance that Alexandra Burke as Marron is not looking to imitate Houston in…