Let me introduce you to the crazy world of the Circus Of Horrors who are currently touring the UK, with their brand new show, set in 1665 in a plague-infested London, with murders aplenty and extraordinary bizarre performances, led by Doktor Haze and his Interceptors From Hell. It is the speciality musical show of the weird and wonderful. It’s been eighteen blood-drenched years since their manifestation at Glastonbury Festival, which also featured on 'Britain’s Got Talent' back in 2011, and has created a storm. If you haven’t come across them, where have you been?

Tonight we are off to a great start, as we sit and wait with a selection of rock classics, played at breakneck speed, to get everyone in the mood, ranging from Meatloaf to Motorhead. The show begins with a few warnings from two sinister beings, who are centre stage, and a vampire and a dwarf. The words are reiterated on the backdrop of the stage - “The show will contain nudity and language of an adult nature and it is not suitable for children, people of a nervous disposition, chavs and sissies. You are not allowed to leave the show……”. As this little chat is unfolding unbeknown to the audience, crawling towards us are mummies, monsters, and other various creatures of the night, under seats, over shoulders, and scaring the pants off people. (Here is my warning – look away now if you don’t want spoilers.)

Ringmaster extraordinaire Doktor Haze appears, opening the show with the evil blonde ‘Sinister Twins’, who incidentally are both called Stephanie, (and not twins) and have been working together for two years, only learning this routine a few days before the show opened. Both dressed identically in white Victorian nightdresses and veils, they proceed to swing in harmony way above our heads in a variety of death defying stunts, swinging by their ankles, or holding on just by their neck, which are truly spectacular.

How can you follow that? Well, a lady with an extra large scythe shows us how, as she balances this onto her forehead, and other tricks of her trade with candelabras and goblets of wine follow later much to our amazement. Anastasia IV is a black and gold, feather-clad beauty with fingers full of fire. She proceeds to enthral us with her fire eating displays. She is hotly followed (no pun intended) by another trapeze display. Clinging onto a single rope, Steph Bates flies through the air, with breathtaking skill and grace, and with beams of white lights following her rapid twists and turns.

The flame-haired Mohican Hannibal Hellmurtos is summoned to the stage and makes a few amusing faces, poking his finger through the holes in his nose, then traumatises us by lifting a railway sleeper via a hook in his nose. Everyone winces and the gasp is audible. Captain Dan, the dwarf, enters stage right, and proceeds to amuse and stun as he chews and swallows the glass of (I kid you not) a light bulb, then opens a bottle of beer with his eye socket, but this is nothing to what he does a little later…keep reading…

Picture the scene. It is an exorcism...a priest enters the stage, brandishing a large wooden cross and holy water. Lying on a bed in the corner is a possessed young man who starts to convulse, twist and contort his body into weird shapes which is really freakish. Added to this are the facts he has white eyes and a painted face. He eventually departs the stage sinking under the mattress, leaving a one finger salute. The same priest returns minus his robes as the high flying artist - his starting point is underwater in a large box - flies through the air while strapped to long metal chains, doing splits and somersaults, and blowing water out of his mouth as his finale. Part one is concluded by the chopping off a hand of the dwarf who is held in a vice…and it is time for a break!

Part two resumes with a girl in a bottle being wheeled onto the stage. Then we have African tribesmen with their high-vaulting somersaulting act, which takes us into the next bit of fiery displays with some limbo hot wire action, and jumping through hoops. It is then back to Hannibal Hellmurtos and his assistant Anastasia IV, who deftly manages to swallow several big swords, which makes for a lot of anguish from the audience. This is the part I find most squeamish, but I hide my horror behind my camera.

Then the dwarf returns dressed in a sexy little leopard skin sarong, as the strongman of the team. Some audience participation is on the agenda, as they look for willing victims to help strangle the dwarf in a tug of war. They don't succeed as he then goes onto strap a cannonball onto his penis, which is very cringeworthy. Not content with that he brings out Henry the hoover and a little skin sucking dance routine is upon us, culminating in a rather lurid finale…I dare not look around at the audience at this point…less said the better, I think!

It’s time for the lights to be switched down for some skeleton dancing in the dark, acrobatic displays. The beautiful but oh so evil twins are back, this time flying through the air on a strand of silk fabric, striking elaborate poses, and displaying aerobic athletic skills. One of the twins is, however, murdered by Doktor Haze, with a deft slash to the throat. Bring on the priest who then performs some high balancing acts, which include juggling crosses. It’s amusing, but I want to see Haze brought to trial. Instead he goes on to commit another murder. This time he cuts a body in half, but she still manages to move her limbs and speak. The Doktor is encased into a metal box, to which he does a quick escapology act and appears at the back of the hall. Anastasia IV returns and is strapped by her hair to a rope and flies through the air, without so much as a safety net, spectacularly letting off sparks, which are fired from her hips. It’s almost time for the grand finale. And they end the show with fire eating, flames, explosions and a posed shot of the performers gathered together.

As we begin to exit, the music plays Monty Python's ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’, and the vampire dances around the stage.

It’s a one off kind of show like no other you will ever have had either the misfortune or pleasure to observe (dependant on your taste). If you enjoy the weirdly tongue-in-cheek humour or want to revel in something very dark and daring, then this show is for you. They are still on tour, and if you’re lucky they might be in a town near you – go catch a live one, but beware of the flying blood!

Photographs by Melanie Smith at www.mudkissphotography.com. A full set of images can be found here http://www.flickr.com/photos/vivamel/sets/72157640739587253

Tour dates: March 2014

READING - The Hexagon/ Thursday 6th March
TUNBRIDGE WELLS - Assembly Hall Theatre/ Friday 7th March
IPSWICH - Regent Theatre/ Saturday 8th March
GREAT YARNMOUTH – Hippodrome/ Sunday 9th March
DARLINGTON - Civic Theatre/ Monday 10th March
KETTERING - Lighthouse Theatre/ Wed 12th March
TELFORD - Oakengates Theatre/ Thursday 13th March
STOKE - Victoria Hall/ Friday 14th March
BIRMINGHAM - Alexandra Theatre/ Saturday 15th March
WESTON SUPERMARE – Playhouse/ Sunday 16th March
BOURNEMOUTH - Bournemouth Pavilion/ Monday 17th March
SOUTHSEA - Southsea Kings Theatre/ Tuesday 18th March
BRAKNELL - South hill Park/ Wednesday 19th March
CAMBRIDGE - Corn Exchange/ Thursday 20th March
LIVERPOOL – Empire/ Friday 21st March
HALIFAX - Victoria Hall/ Saturday 22nd March
DARTFORD - Orchard Theatre/ Sunday 23rd March
WORTHING – Pavilion/ Monday 24th March
WEYMOUTH – Pavilion/ Tuesday 25th March

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