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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Cirque Berserk at the Peacock Theatre

The last time I saw Martin Burton was forty years ago standing in the High Street Winchester in his Zippo the Clown outfit banging an eight inch nail up his nose.  Since then he has progressed to being an entrepreneur of circus of international standing who can measure himself against the names of Smart, Chipperfield and Mills and if not P.T. Barnum. Which may lead you to suppose he is all about flakey flim flam.   But Martin lives and breathes circus and he has devoted himself to it. He is one of the founders of the Academy of Circus Arts and proud owner of Zippo’s Circus, one of the largest tenting circuses in the country. Now he brings a version of the great tradition to the West End.

Cirque Berserk is Unapologetic circus.  High octane and relentlessly enjoyable.  It is there to remind you, if you have forgotten, just how good circus can be.  There is not a hint of the irony that accompanies some modern circus. There is no bookending with any cod narrative or overblown showmanship, it stands on its own as a marvellous thing that makes even the staidest old watcher’s heart beat a little quicker.  The whole spectacle is put together with the craftsmanship of the West End stage allied with the raw energy and power of a tenting circus.  The music, costume and lighting are of the highest order. The show brings genuine gasps of amazement and whoops of pleasure.

Martin Burton can be justly proud of bringing together such an internationally significant troupe who have developed into a family of individuals who seem to revel in their skills and who delight in sharing them with their audience.

If you want to be philosophic about it, this was a show about pure enjoyment and the pleasure of being alive and if that brings a couple of hours of joy to the lives of those watching then that is all the justification in the world.