Review – Cirque Berserk

Cirque Berserk 2017 tour first night at The Churchill Theatre, Bromley

‘Cirque’, it seems, is a word that’s everywhere. It’s the name given to the acceptable face of circus for Waitrose shoppers I guess. And in Cirque Berserk the traditional Zippo’s circus has brought a vast array of traditional circus thrills together in a fast paced, thrilling and genuinely jaw dropping show.

Where it scores over its near namesake Cirque Du Soleil, at least in my view, is in not attempting to shoe-horn any sort of narrative or message into the format. It’s simply a succession of acts – acrobats, fire juggling, knife throwing, clowning – with the added zing of a giant robot and four, presumably crazy, motorcyclists careering round inside a metal globe.

There’s added polish in the form of an angular and suitably dangerous looking stage set and theatrical lighting and smoke effects. And the theatre environment gives a formality and frame to the experience which gives its sheer physicality even greater impact. It’s not often on stage that you get one motorcycle being genuinely driven, never mind four. The roar of the engines adds to the excitement and sense of danger.

‘Don’t try this at home’ hardly needs saying about this show, but do try getting out of your home to see it.

The Cirque Berserk 2017 tour opened at The Churchill Theatre, Bromley on 18 January.

Review – Cinderella

Julian Clary and Nigel Havers in Cinderella at The London Palladium
Julian Clary and Nigel Havers in Cinderella at The London Palladium

With a star-studded cast the running gag in Cinderella is Nigel Havers butting into scenes asking if he can have more lines. A consequence of all the big names is that by the time they’ve all had chance to do their thing, there’s not so much time left for the plot.

But this is more than made up for by the lavish spectacle. A Palladium Panto is a thing of legend for most people or, at best, a distant memory for others. In its day it attracted stars like Julie Andrews, Cliff Richard and Ronnie Corbett. So this revival of the tradition has a lot to live up to. It appears to have done so, with another panto – Dick Whittington – already confirmed for December. Tickets are now on sale!

Spectacular, fun and looking like a Disney show, there wasn’t a space on the costumes for another crystal. The show sparkled and was full of stars. Julian Clary’s costumes were as outrageous as the man himself. Paul O’Grady as the wicked stepmother was so convincing that I am sure younger members of the audience believe he was a woman. Lee Mead singing ‘Any Dream Will Do’ brought back many happy memories of when I saw him in Joseph. His voice was just as enthralling as ever and wowed the crowd.

Amanda Holden performed her duties as Fairy Godmother with sparkle and elegance. The younger members of the audience were really wowed Sam the puppet, which kept them entertained throughout the show. But the highlight for many was the flying horses and carriage, which was definitely a moment to remember. My admiration must go to Nigel Havers who squeezed every drop of empathy from the audience in a relatively small part. His desperate need for more lines made us hope throughout the show that he was going to get a starring moment. And he did!

Cult favourite Count Arthur Strong, as Cinderella’s father, was warm and likeable whilst still retaining his peculiar and unique world view.

The first panto at the Palladium for 30 years, this certainly provided a fantastic and special night out.

Review – Peter Pan with Craig Revel Horwood

If you’ve seen Craig Revel Horwood as his most famous character – that of ‘evil’ judge ‘Craig’ on Strictly Come Dancing – you’ll know he commits fully to every part he plays. That’s also true of his Captain Hook in Peter Pan. It’s great to see a proper star turn in Bromley’s panto after years of, albeit competent, performances from ‘stars’ billed as ‘from CITV’ or similar.

The sets are impressive – more West End than the simple glitter and canvas efforts usually deployed – and a strong supporting cast gel together very well. Paul Burling was a confident and funny Smee who got the audience just where he wanted them. Outstanding vocal support came  from Rachel Spry as Mimi the Magical Mermaid. I’d also like to mention a great turn (on light-up roller skates no less) from Isobel Hathaway as Tinker Bell.

So it’s all over know and Christmas has really ended. Next year’s panto (Sleeping Beauty) only runs in December 2017 – last performance is New Year’s Eve –  so don’t delay or you’ll find all the available dates are behind you!