Cirque Berserk! @ Pleasance, EICC

Cirque Berserk! make their Fringe debut this year, showcasing circus skills new and old for all the family

Review by Clare Sinclair | 24 Aug 2018

As the circus celebrates its 250th birthday, it's fitting that Cirque Berserk! make their Fringe debut this year, showcasing circus skills new and old fit for all the family.

A quarter-millenium on from its creation, we all know what to expect on a trip to the Big Top – except there's no over-sized tent or popcorn stands here. Cirque Berserk! has been specially adapted for the stage, bringing a packed 75 minutes to delighted children and adults alike.

As the big production show opens we're unusually urged to keep our phones on: the audience are to Tweet, Facebook and photograph the performance as much as they want, making the show truly interactive. The opening sequence by the excellent acrobatic troupe start things off energetically, segueing nicely into the obligatory slapstick clowns. While it takes a while for the audience to warm to them, by the end of the show they have the kids giggling away merrily. It's no exaggeration to say there are a few truly hair-raising moments: the motorcycle globe takes the stunt further than seems possible and the aerial hoop duo raise more than one collective gasp from the crowd. Elegant duets make way for feet-jugglers and poi-spinners, and there's not a moment where the audience aren't treated to a visual and auditory extravaganza.

However, there's something missing in the staging, a spark we're not able to connect with and we feel apart from the spectacle in front of us, never truly able to forget we're in the middle of a conference centre. The enduring image of the circus Big Top is there for a reason, and just shows that a good thing shouldn't be tampered with. 

Cirque Berserk!, Pleasance @ EICC, until 26 Aug, times vary, £15-19.50

Scroll on to read more of The Skinny's 2018 Edinburgh Fringe theatre reviews; click here for a round-up of all the best reviews from this year's comedy and theatre programmes