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Jaw-dropping show aims to honour circus legend

Cirque Berserk, Belgrade Theatre, July 26-28.

The motorcycle Globe of Death will be just one of the jaw-dropping stunts on display when the Cirque Berserk rolls up at Coventry's Belgrade Theatre to celebrate 250 years of English circus entertainment.

The performers are actually from Zippos Circus, currently touring the country with their latest mix of crazy and daredevil acts - a show that's perhaps best been described as: "Like the Cirque du Soleil on steroids".

As well as the Globe of Death, audiences can expect to see acrobats, aerialists, dancers, drummers, jugglers and a whole range of anarchic and outrageous performers.

The show celebrates the 1768 arrival on the London scene of Philip Astley, a one-time sergeant-major in the cavalry who is credited with creating the modern circus in England.

You had to be a good horseman in the cavalry - if you fell off in training somebody like Astley would be barking: "Who gave you permission to dismount?"

Astley, of course, never fell off.

It was while fighting in overseas wars that he must have caught glimpses of the bareback riders, lion tamers and clowns on show in Europe. After finishing his time in the military he opened a riding school near Westminster Bridge where he taught in the mornings and demonstrated his own considerable skills in the afternoons.

But he needed to buy in more acts to keep his audiences. And it was around this time he adopted the idea of a ring so his horses couldn't gallop off stage, and to ensure that paying members of the public could keep their eyes on the action at all times.

Audiences at the Belgrade will certainly want to keep their eyes trained on the Cirque Berserk performers as they use breathtaking 21st century tricks and stunts to pay tribute to the legendary Astley.

For tickets ring 024 7655 3055 or go to

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