Circus of Horrors, The (Play)
Starring Ringmaster Doktor Haze, Garry Stretch and his record breaking elastic skin, Drew Blood, Hannibal Hellmurtos Sword Swallowing, Captain Dan with his civil wife Henry the Hoover, Anastasia IV Blade Walker, The Electric Chair, The Girl in the Bottle, The Mongolian Laughing Boy, ‘Iona, The Oriental Contortionist, Hula Hoop Girls, The Kenyan Warriors, Chis Columbine and other Burlesque beauties
General Manager Dok Haze
“Don’t drop it!” screamed Camp Dracula as a woman walked by, carefully carrying a Jack Daniels and Coke to her seat – and the scene was set. This show will keep you on the edge.
The dimly-lit theatre hall was illuminated almost exclusively by the show’s logo on-stage and some creepy silhouettes on the backdrop.
Debuting in 1995, The Circus of Horrors has been captivating audiences for over two decades as they travel between the biggest cities in the UK.
The show began by performing at the Glastonbury Festival but soon captured the intrigue of thousands as it appeared on the fifth series of ITV’s “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2011.
The Circus of Horrors show is a strong reference to burlesque and freak shows – that also uses Gothic imagery – but has a decent sense of humor to boot. Currently touring the UK, The Circus of Horrors recently paid a visit to my hometown of Liverpool and I went along to see what it’s all about.
The curtains were drawn…
The room went dark and the speakers began to blare a recognizable nursery rhyme. “One, two, buckle my shoe,” a young, female voice began and on it went with the intensity growing until Camp Dracula appeared on the stage and began chatting with the audience.
Throughout the event, at the famous Liverpool Empire Theatre, there was one member of the audience that became part of the show. Marcus was his name and he was soon-to-be married and whoever set him up made it a night he won’t forget any time soon.
The groom-to-be didn’t have to do anything crazy but helped add that bit of comedy that had the audience laughing, as well as gasping.
It wasn’t long before some breathtaking action began to unfold on-stage. Following an impressive musical number, the first act was a woman contorting herself and then keeping herself balanced on a slender pole using only parts of her face.
There were several other acts in the first half of the show, including sword eating, glass eating and aerobics with streamers but my favourite was the skeletons. They run through a very simple routine but following the story and the comedic value that comes from their performance really made the first half sparkle.
The circus will resume after a short intermission…
As the second half of the show began, the re-introduction music was very reminiscent to that of “American Horror Story” but told a little story of its own of Jack the Ripper, reaffirming the 1900s feel of the performance.
It wasn’t long before the cover star made his appearance. The Clown, and his minions, made their way to the stage, climbing over the seats on their way – much to the surprise of some of the audience.
The Clown is portrayed as a rebel to the ringleader, Doktor Haze, and it was refreshing to see some good old-fashioned carnage being introduced to the show. We’d already seen Hannibal Hellmurto swallow around six different swords at this point, one of which being filled with mercury.
It seemed like there was less of a variety in the acts as the second half went on but that doesn’t take anything away form the impressive sword eating, woman swinging and woman using four hula-hoops at once. I do, however, think there was a standout act in the second half and that was The Kenyan Warriors, like the skeletons in the first half, they were mesmerizing to watch.
There has to be a mention for the band; they were spectacular throughout the entire show and showed their range of abilities as the music switched from metal to classical. There was even a little country twang toward the end as they played out Johnny Cash’s Ring of Fire – extra points for that.
The Circus of Horrors is still touring the UK and will still be around – this year – until December 3rd. If you’d like to check out tickets and experience it for yourself, you can find information on tickets here. I’d go again, even if just to listen to the band.