Cirque Berserk- Festival Theatre

A circus show is, understandably, much more concerned with providing a spectacle than providing a narrative, but Cirque Berserk seems to focus far too much on one, without any thought for the other.

There is no doubt a fair share of incredible acts, the acrobats and the motorcyclists springing to mind immediately for how impressive they are in a theatre context, but so much filler. A ‘robot’ in what is a very intricately made costume/prop, with flamethrowers for arms, is a magnificent spectacle, but lasts about ten seconds on stage, and is never explained or referenced again. A vignette with the cast of the circus on what looks to be some sort of Napoleonic ship that makes two passes of the stage with no bearing on any act. This is the issue, Cirque Berserk seems to be too singularly focused on having something happen at all times, it never stops to concern itself with why things are happening.

This is a shame, because when the individual acts, such as the Timbuktu Tumblers, or a the beautifully unique Odka (‘lady in the bottle), are given time to breathe and perform then it truly is a fantastic show, but so much is let down by confused staging, and quantity over quantity.

Further, one vignette, again with no bearing on the show or any acts, involves a man in a horse mask pulling a vardo (traditional Roma caravan) onto the stage, before he leaves. Some of the background dancers then appear briefly wearing traditional Romani dress, before leaving again, at which point our horse friend returns to take away the caravan. A long look at the brochure suggests that there are no traveller cast members, and this seems so unnecessary and culturally insensitive. Had at least someone emerged from the caravan, or an acrobat used it in some way this may be forgivable, but there just seemed to be no reason for any of this, other than it was something to fill some time.

Overall, Cirque Berserk has some wonderful acts that’ll leave particularly younger members of the audience in awe, but falls down due to a lack of follow through on the great potential it has as a touring show.

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Scott Redmond

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