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Shock 'n' Roll evening not for the faint of heart

Circus of Horrors, Belgrade Theatre, Jan 15 only.

While parliament convened for a crucial vote on Brexit, an altogether different horror show was on offer at the Belgrade as Doktor Haze and his band of freakish misfits took to the stage for a night of loud Shock ‘n’ Roll entertainment. Circus of Horrors has been delivering its own brand of heavy metal theatrics since Glastonbury 1995, and with the Psycho Asylum theme which shapes the performance, the group appears to have found a formula which manages to balance elements of shock and disgust with laughter, intrigue, and (at times) farce. The atmosphere in the auditorium was one of anticipation, as creepy vignettes of barren fields aired on two mounted monitors, accompanied by what sounded like the word “horror” sung repeatedly in a frightening soprano. A crash of thunder, a word of advice from the host that this is not for the faint of heart, and the show commenced at full throttle - a pace which the group maintained throughout the performance. A variety of weird and wonderful acts are performed by the “lunatics” at the Asylum, featuring impressive feats of knife throwing, body piercing, and acrobatics, all the while marshalled by the charismatic ringmaster Doktor Haze.

The magnificent displays of strength and control by Captain Dan as he threw and windmilled his way around stage were a particular highlight, while the contortion skills of Voodoo King, Twisted OJ, were mesmerising. The group’s use of pyrotechnics was a welcome addition, but did not take away from the quick-paced human pyramid construction efforts of The Voodoo Warriors, or the elegance of a stand-out hula-hoop routine. The entertainment did not always hit the mark, however, and there were parts which may not be to everybody’s taste. The live band never missed a beat, but they didn’t deviate from the fast-paced heavy metal style, and I was hoping for an occasional change of pace. Doktor Haze’s showmanship was evident, but the singing interludes dragged at times, and some of the acts such as the strongman and balancing hoop needed something extra to set them apart from other, similar, acts. Overall, it was a fun and energetic showcase of some of the stranger talents you will see on a stage, but perhaps it did not push the boundaries far enough to achieve the real shock factor.

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