In 1768, Philip Astley drew out a circle in the ground on an abandoned patch of land near London’s Waterloo and filled it with jugglers, acrobats and strongmen – forming the world’s very first circus.
To mark the 250th anniversary of the occasion, “Cirque Berserk!” has embarked on a UK tour, which flipped and tumbled its way into Darlington Hippodrome on Tuesday, July 17th, 2018.
Founded by Martin ‘Zippo’ Burton, Cirque Berserk takes the thrills and skills of the circus from the traditional big top setting and confines it to the theatre stage… with spectacular results.
Over the two hours, there are a sheer variety of acts to ensure audiences are captivated for the duration of the show, from skilled foot jugglers and tumbling acrobatics to cabaret dancers and a fire-breathing robot.
Cirque Berserk begins with an intense display from the highly energetic Timbuktu Tumblers, who show immense strength and charisma throughout as they form human pyramids and throw themselves through hoops and flaming limbo poles.
And there’s hardly time to catch your breath before the Tropicana Troupe catapult themselves into the air, executing stunning somersaults and spins as they tumble back towards the ground.
Despite being constrained to the theatre stage, Cirque Berserk manages to replicate the circus atmosphere with dazzling pyrotechnics, flashing lights and a lively soundtrack.
There are also moments of humour injected into the show, predominantly through the clowns, who use a combination of physical and slapstick comedy to entertain the audience at multiple intervals throughout.
Yet the major thrill with any circus show is the ever-lurking threat of danger, and Cirque Berserk certainly isn’t short of those nail-biting moments, as onlookers find themselves glued to the action from the edge of their seats, more so in the second act.
One of the production’s biggest heart-in-your-mouth moments is produced by Toni, a Czech knife thrower who hurls knives and axes towards the rotating board at speed, without so much as a graze to the skin of his brave assistant, Nicol.
However, it’s the Globe of Death finale that provides the largest gasps, as The Luscious Team (made up of four bikers) ride upside down in the globe at speeds of up to 60mph. A spectacular end to a spectacular evening.
“Cirque Berserk!” is at Darlington Hippodrome from Tuesday, July 17th, 2018 until Saturday, July 22nd, 2018. Tickets can be purchased from the Darlington Hippodrome box office and website.