As I arrive, I first observe that the stage is set out like a weird dream, it looks as though I’ve eaten too much cheddar on toast before bed, random objects arranged all over, with crosses, red velvet and mirrors, which look out of place in the ornate Lyric theatre. Looking at the very busy stage and taking it all in, it feels like what one would imagine the effects of ketamine may be. I’m frantically trying to decipher what everything will be used for before the show starts – it could be anything seeing as I’ve avoided all spoilers in eager anticipation.
The voice over at the start of the show announces the usual don’t leave unless in an emergency, reign in your kids type speech, which is ended with ‘this show contains nudity, strong language, and is not suitable for chavs, if you don’t like it f**k off.’ Perfect, things are looking promising and the show starts with a wry smile. The actors entered the stage from all directions, even from the seats and they clamber over audience members and sit in spare seats, in full costume, unexpected and exciting, and I thought it was a very novel and imaginative opening that set the informal tone of the show and evening well.
We are told we’re being taken to five different places, circumstances or events in 1665 London ‘after midnight’. Well, this didn’t happen. Perhaps the most tenuous links could be drawn between the show and the theme it outlines, but I just felt it was needless, and anticlimactic. Some of the acts encompassed into each of these ‘themes’ or ‘settings’ were themselves very extraordinary, for example the Sinister Sisters, who performed some technically and visually impressive aerial silk and rope displays, however in the show they seemed to be over shadowed by the poor execution or choreography of other pretty dreadful acts. For example; a man dislocating his shoulders, a woman balancing an array of objects on her head, a man smashing a light bulb on his head (which, incidentally from my seat could not be seen – thank goodness) who then proceeds to pick up a cannon ball via a chain attached to his penis, and then finally as his piece de resistance; he inserts his penis into a hoover which he directs around the stage. If these are the things that made it to the show, I would hate to have seen it as a work in progress.
The show seemed to lack direction and many of the acts seem misplaced or unfinished. As an example I will use the ‘Voodoo warriors’ men in animal skin skirts, who perform by far the best parts of the show with tight choreography. Were they good? Yes, brilliant. Do they have any relation to 1665 London or the notion of ‘horror’? No, I’m afraid not. In addition to this, the illusion behind some of the tricks in the show itself was mystifying, intriguing and obviously boggling, however I realised how poorly executed they were, and this was amplified when I was informed by a professional on how they should have looked.
In the unlikely and outrageous case that anyone actually intends to pay money in exchange for a viewing of this performance, I will not ruin exactly what happens, but in the second half of the show two audience members are called up to help, why, I am asking myself? How exciting, something juicy surely has to happen now? No, and It’s still no clearer on why the volunteers were sourced when they’re back in their seats. I am even more exasperated when a show that has been average for the most part then decides to run away with itself at the end. A latex clad woman spins in the air by her hair exploding fireworks from her hips, a concept which would be fantastic if Ann Summer’s wanted to produce their own Catherine wheel (but they don’t)… Then onto the ‘ring of fire’- a man clenching a live firework between his buttocks, which is not a talent nor is it in any way horrifying other than its vulgarity and sheer uselessness.
All I can say to conclude is that it certainly was a circus of horrors- poor acting, lack of direction and the most horrifying part was the Iggy-Pop-meets-Boy-George-tribute vocal styling of ‘Dr Haze’ (Who at the end attempts fire breathing, so If you make it through you will be pleased to know you can pause to mop up the blood- from your ears). I had such high expectations of the show, and was thrilled to be seeing it, and I, regrettably only left feeling disappointed, and the only real talent was clouded by the lack of cohesion.