Theatre review: Midnight Circus at Jackson’s Lane

Midnight Circus

Midnight Circus - Credit: Archant

From the minute the lights begin to blink and fade in what appears to be a disused fairground and a man stumbles onto the stage to the crashing sounds of Nirvana’s Smells like Teen Spirit, the excitement and anticipation is palpable.

Midnight Circus, a cabaret of human physical skill, strength and nerves of steel, has no storyline, unless you happen to catch a thread, as I did.

The eponymous hero (artistic director Alex Frith). with his pot belly and suited acrobatics, is enticed by three barely clad women on ropes into an underworld where entertainment is the order of the night.

Executed with perfectly timed choreography, different acts are offset by tempered lighting and a powerful playlist delivered by the drummer at the top of the stage.

To accommodate AirCraft Circus’ risqué and dangerous performances Jackson’s Lane has replaced its usual seating with a long catwalk running the length of the theatre. People sit on benches around it and are encouraged to move around, though not many did, seeming to favour where they were to witness the show. I enjoyed being down in the pit although different areas can offer more spectacular views, though only for a moment.

A sexy interlude between two lovers stripping on silken ropes, writhing contortions in aerial nets, erotic dances on trapeze, here are performances which are raw, primal and dark.

A scene is further set when the eponymous hero comes face to face with the devil himself, licking fire, stroking flames along his skin, teasing and seducing in this pulsating underworld.

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A romantic coupling in a plastic bowl is seemingly at odds with other acts in these cavernous depths, almost innocent, between other provocative cocktails of daring and desire.

Feats with fire, including spinning fiery cups with a hula hoop, accumulate until each of the 12 actors join together in an orgy of flames for the finale,

Jackson Lane’s artistic director Adrian Berry said the theatre needed to offer something ‘radical’. It has surpassed itself with this,

Rating: 5 stars