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Circus of Horrors (Tour – Wirral)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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Venue: Floral Pavilion

Where: New Brighton

Lucky you’re in a theatre and not a dark alley, but - does it do what it says on the can? Probably, for the Politically Correct/Health & Safety fraternity (or were you anticipating chainsaws?). However, it doesn’t quite live up to what it says in the programme (some of it in Spanish): duels to the death, star-crossed lovers, etc. And who exactly was Sante Muerte? So, a somewhat pick and mix plot, basically the vehicle for circus acts, and those involving blades with no proof of sharpness, seemed fake, yet, ironically, traditional stunts, eg, using hula hoops, received the biggest ovation.

Early 1900, allegedly, and following a brief respite in a fairly realistic sanatorium (I imagine), it’s off to a former Aztec Warriors’ burial ground and Day of the Dead rituals to bring leader Dr Haze back to life. And… well, that’s it. Still, The Interceptors from Hell are an excellent band, and if music (and special effects) are not quite up to the standard of the average Empire of the Sun video, make-up and costume are a close run. And the lighting zig zagged a bit too much, but hell, circuses are the epitome of tacky, chaotic charm. Bit creepy though, and gruesome in parts (kindly displayed on video) – definitely don’t try this at home, unless you plan to become the stuff of Urban Legend and the talk of the local A & E.

The cast list is also odd; hard sometimes to tell performer and role apart. Or to believe the spiel, eg what continent the Aztec Warriors are from. Nor any idea who was the mc - though probably turned down for ‘Cabaret’, while the narrator, the good Doktor himself may have auditioned for a few bands in his time; Kiss, perhaps. But they both niftily stir things up, and the ladies were pretty spectacular, modelling the top shelf/top price Anne Summers range, while playing saxophone upside down, roller-skating, or cracking the whip and living on the edge, like Anastasia IV (Paseante de Hoja), a name which implies royalty, or a Spinal Tap drummer.

A company proud of being a Freak Show may have met its match with a packed cosplay audience whose members scrambled over the seats to examine Hannibal Helmerto at close range. Floats your boat? Well, this sort of terrestrial Flying Dutchman will be at Liverpool and Manchester shortly. Hasta la vista.

-Carole Baldock


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