Recently I went to a Circus of Horrors show, which was an interesting experience. There were elements of Grand Guignol, well, as you know, if there is bllod, gore and/or monsters, it has something to do with this French horror theatre. I posted a review on The Gothic Imagination Blog, which I recommend to all of you interested in Gothic and horror, as it deals with articles, blog posts and reviews of literature, films and events of this kind. It is a great source of different and interesting information, so be sure to check it out. I am posting my review of the show here as well, so let me know your thoughts and would you go and see the show after reading it.
Review: The Night of the Zombie, The Circus of Horrors, Albert Halls, Stirling, February 1st, 2015
The lights inside the venue suddenly went out. Darkness was holding each and every member of the audience in its strong grip. Vague shapes on the dark stage started to move, accompanied by unfamiliar noises that caused shivers going down my spine. All of a sudden a deep, howling and ominous voice started telling the story of terror that is about to happen in front of our eyes, the story of “a decrepit corpse ridden London, plagued by Zombies, a city ruled by the undead and climaxing in an awesome flaming apocalypse”. The Night of the Zombie has begun. Set in 2020, “the story twists and turns with grisly murders and sensational shocks – all interwoven with some of the greatest and most bizarre circus acts on earth, sword swallowers, knife throwers, daredevil balancing acts, astounding aerialists, a demon dwarf, a Guinness World Record holding ‘hairculian’ hair hanging beauty, Sinister Sisters, gyrating & fire limboing acrobats & much more”. And much more it was. The Circus of Horrors exists in the deviant world of horror performance for over 20 years, and it is the only circus show of this kind. It has amazed and shocked Britain’s Got Talent, and as of recently, the West End Theatre, with their talented performers, great music and horror driven acts. There was sex, there was blood, extraordinary hair suspension act and good humour all in one night of extreme entertainment. I couldn’t help thinking about how the concept reminded me of Grand-Guignol, the French horror theatre, which I introduced in my previous posts here. The programme is conceptualized around the ever popular zombie narrative, and accordingly, performers were in the roles of the Undead, exercising a range of different and extraordinary circus acts that even the Freaks (1932) director Tod Browning would find very interesting. The narrator, Doc Haze, spectacularly introduced the audience to the blood, gore and explicit scenes that they are about to witness in this three hour long show, held at the Albert Halls in Stirling. A strong theatrical figure like Doc Haze made us jump out of our seats with every song he sang during the show, and although he met his doom by the end of this event in a very realistic portrayal of beheading by guillotine, the melodic line of his voice as well as the choice of classic heavy metal and other popular songs combined with the rock and roll music by The Circus of Horrors resident band, The Interceptors from Hell, drove the audience to ecstatic excitement and shock during the show. The fourth wall was breached with the sudden appearance of numerous zombies crawling their way to the stage through the rows of seats of the Albert Halls venue, scaring the audience members in the process. The interaction with the audience during the whole show was present and vital for this show to make an impact on the minds of the viewers, as the horrors from the stage came to life and reached the world of reality. Eroticism filled the space with the presence of beautiful gore zombie ladies dressed in gothic and s&m clothes, who dragged some of the chosen audience members on the stage to help further build a story of the Undead lurking in the dark corners of the venue in a historical and Gothic town that is Stirling. Some of the regular acts is Captain Dan, who shows us that love has no boundaries in his presentation of an unconventionally funny and erotic relationship with his “civil wife”, Henry the Hoover, and that humour is an omnipresent and important part of the show, which Grand-Guignol directors also recognized in building a reputation for this theatre, using the exchange of horror and comedy during one night of entertainment. Another thing hiding in the dark corners of The Circus of Horrors setting was none other than Nosferatu incarnation, Drew Blood, the second character who is a part of The Circus of Horrors since its beginnings, fang to fang with the already mentioned Doc Haze.
Drew Blood made Nosferatu go through slight change from the monster of the silver screen as we know it and the monster, theatrical circus performer; he’s not a shy, misunderstood creature anymore, instead he is freed from the chains of suppressed sexuality, with the burlesque-like allure, but still attaining vampire features. Pretty grotesque! Or is it? Maybe that would be something that is expected from a creature who is damned to eternal darkness, if he wasn’t damned to roam the world alone as a character who helped build our vision of creatures of the night. On the downside, if one can consider it that, from the promotional aspect, I got the impression that blood will flow in buckets and that it was going to be more in-your-face and all-over-your-clothes grand-guignolesque circus show. However, there was no room for disappointment, especially considering the limits of the venue where The Circus of Horrors performed in the first place.
Finally, using the popular culture references throughout the show and presenting the talent of circus performers and musicians to the audience, The Circus of Horrors is a must see show for fans of horror genre, and if you are not one of those people, after this show you will be. Guaranteed. A night of horror and terror became an expected night of great fun combined with talented circus acts and horror elements which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Quotes taken from The Circus of Horrors website: http://www.circusofhorrors.co.uk/info.html
The Circus of Horrors tour: http://www.circusofhorrors.co.uk/dates.html
P.S. You can see my photos that go with the review here: AyaGravesPhotography