Wednesday, March 09, 2011

at the Civic Theatre

Fifteen years ago someone had the notion that circus, conjuring tricks and sideshows could be enhanced by stadium-strength rock music, strong language, fake blood and random obscenity.

After that trail-blazing Glasto gig there's been no stopping the Circus of Horrors, and last week, with their scary front man Dr Haze, they made their second visit to the Civic, playing to a packed house of fans who bought the tee-shirts and joined in with the gestures.

After some half-hearted humiliation of the audience, the warm-up man was shot, and we were into the freak show …
We were warned that chavs and cissies should stay away - I might add anyone uncomfortable with sexism and racism.

Chap next to me reckoned this show was much improved over the one they brought five years ago. He'd brought his field glasses, but hardly used them this time – sometimes, apparently, things happening on the periphery are just as interesting as the main attraction – the only example I spotted was a trio stage right sawing away at their wrists with violin bows while the contortionist was doing her act.
The lighting was powerful but poorly designed, so that we were often distracted by performers, and not just the hard-working band, wandering about behind the action. Worse still, the three black acrobats [crow-barred into the plot as “Aztec Indians”] had their first act ruined by the clown mugging behind them in a silly sombrero.

As my mentor pointed out, it's a mixture of classic magic, circus skills and elementary physics [fun with electricity]. And there was much to admire. So if you didn't care for the pierced punk sword swallower you could enjoy the juggler, or the girl swinging by her hair, or the limbo-dancer [the ever-popular flaming bar] or the “Aztec” acrobats.

But by the time we reached the fire-eating finale, the relentless attack, sometimes literally in-your-face, had begun to pall a little. This tour calls itself Four Chapters from Hell. I wouldn't argue. You can call me old-fashioned, but I'm not convinced civilization is enhanced by the freedom to watch a midget attach a bowling ball or a hoover to his penis ...

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