An intoxicating evening of dazzling skills and thrills with Cirque Berserk in Coventry

'Circus has come a long way from wobbly elephants and blokes with red nose - it is now more akin to dance'
'Circus has come a long way from wobbly elephants and blokes with red nose - it is now more akin to dance'

Nick Le Mesurier reviews Cirque Berserk at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

Wow! How did they do that? It was amazing! Those were the sorts of things people were saying as they left the Belgrade Theatre after watching Cirque Berserk’s truly spectacular show.

Circus is all about excess – faster, higher, more daring, more dazzling. Just how much more can human beings achieve in terms of physical prowess, timing, and carefully rehearsed mayhem? The tight confines of the Belgrade’s main stage only added to the thrills of the big top: condensed it, distilled it, and pumped it out at us at full volume.

Cirque Berserk offers fifteen acts from around the world. Linking them were the Mustache Brothers from Brazil, a slapstick comedy duo whose antics gave traditional skills a new twist, centred not least upon their remarkable eyebrows and mustaches. The Tropicana Troupe from Cuba astonished us all with their high-flying somersaults and daring springboard tricks. Odka, from Mongolia arrived curled up in a bottle and shot arrows with her feet. The Timuktoo Tumblers were more like one single multi-headed organism, twisting and leaping in the air.

Amazing as they all were the high spot of the evening had to be the Globe of Death, performed by the Lucius Team. Inside a fifteen feet diameter steel mesh globe four full sized motorcycles (yes four) chased each other at high speed in a mad whirligig dance. Just how far can split-second timing be split? It had to be somewhere down to the nano-second.

All this was conducted to a loud percussive sound track that made for an intoxicating evening. Did he really do a handstand atop six chairs balanced in a single column? Were those bolas really on fire as they crashed to the floor sending sparks flying? Were those real knives he threw at her as she spun on a wheel? Yes, and more.

Circus has come a long way from wobbly elephants and blokes with red noses. It is now more akin to dance. In between the high notes of this show there were moments when time seemed to stand still. The audience were thrilled and returned a standing ovation to the awesome power and grace of the human body and the fully focussed mind.

* Cirque Berserk runs until July 28. Visit www.belgrade.co.uk/event/cirque-berserk to book.