Theatre Review: Cirque Berserk - King's Theatre, Glasgow ✭✭✭

Review by Kate Ireland

Martin Burton and Julius Green’s self proclaimed ‘Berserkus’ sees a flurry of circus performers from around the globe showcase their skills within the unfamiliar confides of a proscenium arch theatre. 

We are first introduced to a troop of Kenyan tumblers whose character and slick, daring and comical routines are as equally entertaining as they are impressive. Other acts such as Bolas, from Argentina, Germaine Delbosqo from France and the Scottish clown Tweedy offer an injection of creativity and charming originality in an otherwise jarred and disjointed production. What sets these acts apart from their associates is commitment to unique talent without a mirage of high tech equipment and cartoonish characters. The circus is a celebration of familiar outsiders, yet many of the acts, in particular the Tropicana Troupe from Cuba, appear so hyper stylised and dramatic you are left wondering if it’s a parody of the intense masculinity displayed in World’s Strongest Man.

Within the obvious limited spacing of the theatre, the more hazardous displays are twice as thrilling, the pinnacle of this being 4 motorcyclists from the LuciusTeam simultaneously whizzing around a caged ‘globe of terror’. This aspect is obviously designed to engross the more thrill seeking spectator and bring a centuries old format of entertainment into the 21st century. The sequence is undoubtedly gripping and impressive, yet feels like a slightly cheap attempt in ensuring the show is talked about long after the curtain falls. The ‘Bersekus’ is full of moments like this, enough to pull you in yet stunted by a lack of direction to merge the acts and build suitable tension. It feels like a selection of short previews, encouraging you to see the full-length productions at a later date.

At moments when the production seems to fall apart it is kept alive by its dynamic score, often a remix of punchy electro and circus jazz, it manages to maintain a sense of excitement among the audience. However other key features, which are essential to the theatre, are otherwise overlooked. There is no coherent narrative to tie together the performances or explain the relevance of a giant robot charging onto the stage. Cirque Berserk had the potential to tell the tale of a glorious uniting of cultures, instead it seemed more like a hastily organised talent show, with clear winners and others not even making it to the next round.

Cirque Berserk is at the King's Theatre Glasgow until Sunday 29th January. For tickets and information visit ATG Tickets.