Sunday, 20 February 2011

Circus of Horrors

Cirque Du Soleil directed by Quentin Tarantino!” That’s how ‘Circus of Horrors’ is described by lead performer and show creator Doktor Haze. Last week I clambered from my hovel, with Mrs Fright Writer in tow, to cast a beady eye over this freak show.

So, on a cold, February night in Cardiff I find myself stood outside a theatre waiting to see the performance, but in reality, the show has already begun. A hunchback shambles his way up and down the queue entertaining the crowd.

The crowd themselves though are, kind of, part of the show. Among the ‘normal people’, a large number of the audience are dressed in a darkly gothic or deeply horror manner, as flamboyant as the performers themselves. Women in tutus and corsets, with body art and extravagantly coloured hair stand alongside shadowy men dressed in black. They are geeks and freaks, they are my kind of people.

In the foyer we are met by two scantily clad performers who greet the audience with a smile the opportunity to buy an official tour brochure and merchandise.

When we take our seats and while others pour in before the show begins we are entertained by ‘Daniel Disorderly’, the hunchback we met outside. Daniel entertains us with lewd jokes and “magic”. Then, as the show is about to begin, he runs as through the shows disclaimer with appropriate actions. We’re told it contains sexual content, nudity, bad language and is “not suitable for children, people of a nervous disposition, sissies & chavs.” It sounds like one hell of a show!

Then, as the lights go down, performer and Polish aristocracy Anastasia IV goes up, way up, performing a ballet routine through the air, high above the stage attached only by her own hair and accompanied by rock music. In the short routine we are introduced to exactly what we can expect over the next two and a half hours; sex, rock, horror, humour and death defying acts.

So begins one of the freakiest, most action packed shows you are ever likely to see on stage. Transported from an old asylum to the dystopian future metropolis “Sin City” via Mexico and Victorian London, we meet all sorts of oddities; our very flexible friend Kristina Garcia, Professor Daniel Von Henry aka Captain Dan a perverted midget, Hannibal Helmuerto a tattooed sword swallower with “floating ribs” and many other freaks including the man himself Doktor Haze.

The whole show continues at a dizzying pace. In a matter of seconds you’ll hold your breath in anticipation, gasp with horror and laugh with joy. In fact you may be glad of the interval just to catch your breath.

You’ll realise quite early in the show that, despite what Doktor Haze says, Tarantino it ain’t. No, this show is too horrifying, too gory, too much fun to be Tarantino. This show is more Fulci crossed with Rodriguez, it’s not afraid to bring things down to base level with wicked humour and smatterings of bodily fluids. Sure the acting isn’t always great and the story isn’t Shakespeare, but you will be too wrapped up atmosphere of the whole to even care.

It would recommend that everyone takes a look at the tour dates and goes to a show near them. This show really is like nothing else and with 15 years of performing under its belt it’s showing no signs of slow down.

Circus of Horrors have taken something sweet, laced it with sexuality, covered it in horror and dusted it with humour to create something far more mature and a lot more fun. It’s like adding vodka to jelly or chilli to chocolate, the innocence is gone but the pleasure is so much better.

The show beats with a black heart but it’s one that’s sprinkled with the gold glitter of showmanship. It puts glamour and horror together side by side to create something simply spectacular.

That’s all from me. I need to go to tell my wife I’m running away with the circus. Goodbye for now and in the words of Doktor Haze, ”may your dreams be nightmares."


  1. Excellent review. I saw this on Saturday and it truly has to be seen to be believed. Such a potpourri of theatre: surreal, camp, graceful, shocking, hilarious and rocking! And, of course, the 'bizarre girl in a bell jar'! A tip of the hat to all the performers for their dedication and skill and especially to Dok Haze for making it all happen.

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