Skip to main content

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

I have seen three previous circus performances over the last few years, following a gap of over thirty years, and Cirque Berserk was one of them, and their return two years later to Derngate is often remarkably similar to their previous show, but never less than remarkable in itself.

The concluding act, the motorcyclists of the Globe of Death I have now seen four times, and while I have now become blasé about it, I can still revel in the delight of others seeing it for the first time, including my companion of the night, who often thought the whole evening was full of crazy. It is true really though that you must have to be more than a little crazy to be a circus performer and do some of these outlandish acts we witness. However, big them up and applaud all the crazy people, because through them, a really diverse audience (the most this side of a panto pretty much), was thrilled to beginning to end.

Cirque Berzerk covers most things you can think of from a modern circus, from acrobats, jugglers, a more modern take on a clown, and aerial performers, all package for a theatre audience. Unlike the tradional tented circus, there is absolutely no moment of an audience member being dragged onto the stage, if that might be a concern, this is a sharp and highly prepared circus, with no room for manoeuvre. This doesn't remove the heart from it though, it's still classic circus but with a more stylised sheen.

The performers are varied, but all remarkably skilled, the opening performance of stunning acrobat act, the Timbuktu Tumblers is amazing, and their relatively constant presence, bridging scenes often, is a nice touch. The Bolas Argentinas provide a nice bit of spark, literally, to their very traditional performance as well, and if Gabriel doesn't epitomise the crazy of a circus performer, I am not sure what will.

The Revolution Troupe once again returns with their amazing alternative tricks on a seesaw. Clearly featuring the most dangerous act, because the second act piece features the one and only sighting of safety wire, and watching it, you can see why.

The most major change to the evening for 2019 was a new "clown", in the arrival of the diminutive Paulo dos Santos. Standing just 3ft 6ins, he rises fair above his height in a brilliant collection of comic pieces, which the youngsters around me were certainly loving. This is clowning, but very different clowning, no silly costume, just fabulous physical comedy. Also, there is a double and glorious payoff in the second act, where he is given a nicely created emotional moment, and perhaps something you might never have seen from the circus clown before. Fabulous stuff.

Perhaps my own personal favourite though is the amazing travelling circus sequence in the second act, it's a stunning collection of set-pieces, all conclusively traditional and runs the full gamut of acts you could imagine, from jugglers, knife throwing, a bit of foot controlled archery. Quick paced, inventive and superbly performed.

Sadly, the one main thing I had to criticise last time hasn't really changed, and that is of the slightly over atmospheric lighting, great at times, poor at others, mostly to the detriment of the aerial performers like Jackie, who is poorly lit, to not allow the remarkable skills she has to be fully appreciated. Elsewhere in the technicals though, they are a pleasure and a delight, the pulsing and incredibly well-selected music tracks bring an incredible amount to this mostly dialogue-free production.

Cirque Berzerk is a short, snappy and slick evening, wrapped up within two hours. However, you never feel shortchanged in any way, because the whole production is packed to the rafters with acts and dealt with at such a pace, you as an audience member probably couldn't cope with anymore and it would also dilute the impact. The creative team of creative director Julius Green and producer Martin Burton have got it just right, the very perfect evening of non-theatre theatre, a bit of something very different that everyone should see at least once. And no scary clowns to boot!

Remarkable skills and feats on display, in a show that will thrill kids of all ages.
½


Performance reviewed: Tuesday 28th March 2019 at the Royal & Derngate (Derngate), Northampton.

Cirque Berserk runs at the Royal & Derngate until Saturday 30th March 2019 
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/

Photos: Piet-Hein Out


Popular posts from this blog

Review of Market Boy by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

I have now written a little over two hundred and fifty reviews on this blog (yes I know, amazing. I am sorry). Most shows I have enjoyed, many I have given four star reviews, a good number have also got that lofty five stars from me. There is however hiding among them five star reviews, another tier of brilliance. One that lies in my head, where everything comes together to go beyond that five, but where I have nothing left to give. The play, the performances, the staging, and perhaps even more to elevate what is a personal opinion as a review, an actual personal emotional feeling or connection towards the piece.
Market Boy written by David Eldridge and performed by the Royal & Derngate Actors Company will (spoiler intended) receive five stars from me at the end of this review. However as that first paragraph suggests, this was one of those that went a little further for me. Set in what I happily claim as my decade and featuring throughout the music of that decade, which I claim …

Review of Benidorm Live at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

I arrived at Milton Keynes Theatre to see this touring stage version of ITV comedy hit Benidorm with a distinct lack of knowledge. Having never seen the show, my information stretched as far as knowing it was set in a holiday resort in Spain (the title helps there), and that the humour generally resorted to the cruder end of the spectrum. However, having graced the screens for ten years, it was clear that Derren Litten's show had garnered quite a following, and indeed it was clear from the reception of the audience on the night, that this following was pretty much filling the theatre.

The plot, such as it is for this stage show, is very much drafted from an episode of Fawlty Towers, and made a great deal more adult with its humour. The hotel manager, Joyce Temple-Savage (a sharp performance by Sherrie Hewson) gets wind that a hotel inspector is in, and the scene is set for seeking them out and all the obvious cases of mistaken identity. It's thin and doesn't fill the show,…

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) and…