Review: The Circus of Horrors at Victoria Hall, Hanley

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Amazing feats and death-defying stunts were the order of the day as The Circus of Horrors rolled into town for one night only at Hanley’s Victoria Hall.

Even before it starts, it’s clear this show isn’t going to be a conventional theatre trip, with a tongue-in-cheek announcement warning of nudity, blood splattering and that the show is not for the easily offended or ‘chavs’.

Before any acts perform, it seems a little far-fetched and done for dramatic effect. But within 10 minutes of the curtain rising, it’s clear the warning is completely justified.

Led by charismatic ringmaster, Doktor Haze, the show has no real story but features a variety of acts who all get their time to shine by displaying unique abilities.

These include a heavily tattooed sword swallower named Hannibal Hellmurto, who gulps down a range of blades including a 90-degree curved cutlass, a mercury filled neon tube (which, of course, is plugged-in) and a carpenter’s saw with added back-and-forth action while it is in his gullet.

There’s also a group of muscular gymnasts who mesmerise the audience with their incredible balancing acts, one where three stack at least fifteen-feet-high before yet another climbs on top and flips upside down to balance on another man’s head.

A mischievous dwarf calling himself Captain Dan makes frequent appearances throughout, providing one of the most gross-out moments of the show by opening a bottle with just his eye, but it is his X-rated use of a Henry Hoover which certifies The Circus of Horrors as an adults-only show.

A live band provide the soundtrack for the entirety of the production, never letting up for the two-hour duration.

Mixing infectious original songs with samples from existing tracks (a rendition of Billy Idol’s White Wedding while thoroughly embarrassing an unlucky audience member is a real highlight), the heavy music is accessible enough to non-metal fans, but more than satisfying to those familiar with the genre.

Foul mouthed, filthy, and utterly fantastic, the Circus of Horrors is an unmissable experience for those who like their entertainment a little more extreme.

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