Ah, the circus. The big top, the floor strewn with straw, the hard, wobbly benches, the clowns and trapeze artist, the strong man, the lions, tigers and bears, oh my! There’s something to be said for the circus in all its traditional glory – and there’s a lot missing from a circus spectacular in a theatre space.

Perhaps it’s that everything on the Cirque Berserk set seems rather cramped in The Lowry‘s Lyric Theatre (and it’s not as if this theatre is small having had the likes of War Horse, Evita and Fiddler on the Roof sets on it in the last 12 months). There’s a motorcycle Globe of Death in this company’s set, for goodness sake.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the show was thrilling: opening with acrobats and aerialists on silks hanging either side of the stage, moving on to the award-winning clown Tweedy and his ridiculous and highly-skilled routines, through to the edge-of the-seat motorbike routine in the aforementioned Globe of Death (for a reference, see the opening of the film Place Beyond the Pines). But some of it felt rather stagnant in the space, even dated, and this shouldn’t have happened.

There were ‘wow’ moments every few seconds, believe me. Now the strong man, whose name is Hercules (of course), is juggling with tyres, ‘WOW’; now the acrobats are somersaulting backwards through the air to land on a chair, ‘WOW’. But without the added spectacle of a big-top, the smell of hot dogs, candyfloss, popcorn and the night air, it just isn’t the same.

Highlight of the evening goes to the motorcyclists and their Globe of Death – I’ve mentioned it three times now, that’s how ‘WOW’ it is – and when the lights are dimmed in the theatre, the three cyclists are in pitch black but for the lights on their bikes. There is an audible gasp from the audience followed by an eruption of applause. Impressive stuff.

By Lucia Cox

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What: Cirque Berserk

Where: The Lowry, Salford

More infohttp://www.cirqueberserk.co.uk/