The Circus of Horrors: Welcome to the Carnevil (3 stars)

This article is from 2016

The Circus of Horrors: Welcome to the Carnevil

Eighties style circus sideshow is too polite to really ignite

Straddling The Rocky Horror Show, burlesque and an old-fashioned carnival, is The Circus Of Horrors. High-camp and schlocky, yet sexist like a Motley Crue video, an eighties vibe permeates the production, right down to glam-metal band Dr Haze and the Interceptors who provide the rock soundtrack throughout the show.

Now celebrating their 21st anniversary in the business, there is no denying the phenomenal talent of the performers, even if the whole is episodic, rather than slick, lacking any one dominant theme. Particularly of note is Captain Dan, whose ways with a Henry Hoover don't involve cleaning the house, and sexy hula hoop act Hayley Fox. Hannibal Hellmurtos provides the yuck factor. But the stand-out has to be Anastasia, Hairculean Diva tied to a wire by her pony-tail, with an aerial display of poise and strength, which is nothing short of spectacular.

A surprising lack of gore is made up for by crude gags and audience interactions. Compere Dr. Haze is like a Gothic Peter Stringfellow, with his roared insults and throaty singing voice. Camp Dracula oozes charisma but is underused, only making a brief appearance. Traditional parlour tricks, such as sawing people in half and mock beheadings, are played for laughs, rather than big frights.

What is most shocking, though, is the amount of small children in attendance.There may be clowns here, but they're the stuff of nightmares, like Psychoville's Mr Jolly, and not likely to be taking bookings for children's parties anytime soon. Still, a fun diversion, if nowhere near anarchic or bloody enough to terrify.

Reviewed 4 Mar at King's Theatre, Glasgow. Touring across Britain from 5 Mar.

Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information displayed here is accurate, always check with the venue before attending (especially during the Covid-19 pandemic).