REVIEW: The Circus of Horrors: Curse of the Devil Doll, Colston Hall 6/10
THE Circus of Horrors began in 1995 at the Glastonbury Festival, combining its traditional circus performances with that of a darker, gothic sensibility.
This unique approach to the circus has yielded great success for the company in the intervening years, with frequent appearances on mainstream television programmes like The Graham Norton Show and Richard & Judy.
Perhaps the greatest advertisement for the Circus of Horrors though was its enormously successful run on Britain's Got Talent in 2011, where they reached the semi-finals.
Their newest show, Curse of the Devil Doll, is currently on a massive tour of the UK, with over 50 performances booked in just a three- month span.
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This Bristol leg of their tour saw them perform at a packed Colston Hall.
For those who may have missed what they actually do on stage, The Circus of Horrors takes traditional circus acts, such as trapeze artists, tumblers, and sword-swallowers, and clothes them in the aesthetic of a horror movie.
So the trapeze artists become the Sinister Sisters, mannequin-like figures in stained, bloody ballet outfits or the sword-swallower is Hannibal Helmurto, a tattooed, pierced figure with the ability to swing heavy objects from a meat hook through his nose.
It's all very nicely presented, with genuine thought put into the look of the show, with finely painted backdrops, costumes and make-up.
A number of the acts are impressive too, with the aforementioned Helmurto gaining much of the credit, along with a certain shock value, for his talents.
However, the biggest shocks must belong to Captain Dan's appearances, who displays a talent that has seen the Circus of Horrors banned from some cities in the UK for it's "lewdness."
It's impossible to write about in much detail here, but suffice to say that it's something you'd never see on Richard & Judy.
There are problems, though. Some of the acts are just plain filler, adding little to the overall product and the illusions, although used infrequently are also poor, feeling cheap, tired and anti-climactic.
It amounts to a show that looks great, with moments of gruesome wonder, but is too inconsistent to whole-heartedly recommend.