Cirque Berserk at New Theatre, Cardiff – theatre review

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Thanks to the New Theatre Cardiff for inviting us to review Cirque Berserk

To the left of me, my four-year-old son is open-mouthed and wide-eyed not quite believing what he is witnessing. To my right, a man in his 70s says ‘wow!’ over and over, clapping for each act as hard as he can.

This is the multi-generational appeal of the brilliant Cirque Berserk – a contemporary circus company who combine traditional circus skills with modern staging and theatrics in an impressive performance of one hour and 45 minutes.

And if you like the sound of what you read there’s 30% off today and tomorrow’s shows (Wednesday and Thursday) exclusively for Cardiff Mummy Says readers by using the code AMD when you book by phone on 029 2087 8889.

Created by Martin Burton of Zippo’s Cirus Fame all the performers trained in the traditional circus ring and spend much of the year performing in the big top. However for a few months a year, they work with a West End creative team to bring their unique skills to some of the UK’s biggest theatres, under the guidance of Cirque Berserk’s creative director Julius Green.

Cirque Berserk

I’ve seen the show previously when Cirque Berserk were in Cardiff in March 2017 but am still in complete awe of just what the human body is capable of. The 35-strong team of performers from across the world risk their lives in an energetic, passionate and highly entertaining production without the use of safety devices (excluding one act so dangerous that a safety wire is necessary).

We witness the Timbukto Tumble limbo-ing under fire-lit poles, creating human pyramids and diving through hoops with remarkable synchronicity. The Bolas Argentinas spin and crack bolas – a traditional throwing weapon used by gauchos to capture animals by their legs – moving faster and faster and even adding flames. Mongolian contortionist Odka gets a perfect bullseye as she shoots an arrow from a bow with her feet.

Jose and Gaby use incredible strength in their awe-inspiring balancing act; there’s impressive strap aerial acrobatics from Jackie and aerial pole from Laci. Germaine Delbosq fire juggles with her feet and Zula balances on his hands at the top of a tower of chairs

One of my personal favourites is The Tropicana Troupe who jump onto a springboard and catapult themselves across the stage landing perfectly on a raised mattress.

I find myself holding my breath while knife thrower Toni throws dozens of blades onto a spinning target with a brave assistant in the middle. My children asked me if I would be brave enough to take part and, actually, I don’t think I would be.

A fire breathing robot appears rather too briefly for my children’s liking. Plus there’s the much-publicised finale of the show – the Globe of Death which sees four motorbikes reaching speeds of up to 60mph inside the globe. It’s beautiful to watch but the risk of danger is ever-present – with fire marshals clutching extinguishers at the side of the sphere.

The death-defying stunts and displays of human capability are punctuated by lighter slapstick humour from the Mustache Brothers modern-day clowns. The audience thought they were hilarious as they tripped each other up, whacked each other in the face with ladders and generally tumbled around the stage.

The music throughout adds so much to the performance building atmosphere and creating tension.

Unlike other theatre shows Cirque Berserk actively encourages its audiences to share photos and videos from the performance on social media. There’s plenty from last night’s show online already. However it’s no substitute for the real thing. As modern circus celebrates its 250th anniversary, Cirque Berserk’s impressive blend of daring stunts and human strength, flexibility and bravery is perfect entertainment for all the family.

Cirque Berserk is at New Theatre Cardiff until Sunday 15 July with performances as follows.

Tuesday, Thursday & Friday 7.30pm

Wednesday 5pm & 7.45pm

Saturday 2pm, 5pm & 7.45pm

Sunday 2pm & 6pm

Tickets cost from £14 to £27. Book online or call the box office on 029 2087 8889.

There’s 30% off today and tomorrow’s shows (Wednesday and Thursday) exclusively for Cardiff Mummy Says readers by using the code AMD when you book by phone on 029 2087 8889.

Have you seen Cirque Berserk? I’d love to know what you thought in the comments below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page, or you can tweet me on @cardiffmummy

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