THEATRE REVIEW | Cirque Berserk, Birmingham Rep
Dangerous, daring but a little spark-less ★★★
This is the second time that I have seen Cirque Berserk at the Birmingham Rep, and I have mixed feelings. Mostly, I really enjoyed the acts, and there were moments that got you on the edge of your seat, gasping in horror; but others that made you cringe.
There were your usual circus’ performances such as acrobatics, flame juggling, and even a clown character, which was quite funny; it was funnier when you heard the children laugh out loud in the audience at his every gag. The acts that stood out were Tropicana Troupe, a Cuban acrobat team that catapulted themselves across the stage landing perfectly on a crash mat, and in the second half flying halfway across the air to land precisely on a chair high up off the ground. Of course, their god-like bodies were also a show-stopper. Jose and Gaby performed a stunning contemporary/acrobatic dance routine where Gaby suspended herself with just one hand using Jose’s forehead as support. This blew the audience away, and we were glued to their beautiful movement throughout. Odka was also incredibly mesmerising to watch as a contortionist; Odka shot an arrow against a target by using her feet! Then we saw her spill out of a small bottle-like container. The four motorcyclists inside a metal dome they call – Globe of Death – was extreme and jaw-dropping, and was a brilliant way to end the show.
The other artists appeared little awkward and kept demanding rounds of applause which took away the moments that were really stunning and hand-clapping worthy. Bolas Argentina were very good in the second half, but the first half it was awkward when Germaine tossed the bolas against a springboard but it was a lacklustre effort. Then, Gabriel did a similar trick and it had so much more energy and rhythm to it. The Berserk Dancers were disappointing, as every time they appeared on stage, it looked like they were forced to be there and it made some moments cringing and laughable with only one or two really going for it. Timbuktu Tumblers were very good, but again, a lot of applause begging after every little thing. British audiences, I guess, like to be left alone and want to clap when they feel it necessary. It was especially awkward at the very end when the audience clapped, but the artists wouldn’t move until there was a complete standing ovation, which ended with an unenthusiastic standing ovation from half of the audience.
Overall, enjoyable, but for a circus with some very good acts, it lacked a punch.