Saturday, 15 March 2014

Circus of Horrors

I had an evening out at the theatre yesterday. My husband and I went to see London After Midnight from  The Circus of Horrors, a show inspired by the 1927 'lost' film of the same name from director Tod Browning of Freaks fame.

I loved being immersed in the atmosphere created by dramatic gothic costumes and make up, colourful hair, tattoos and piercings... and that was just the audience!

The story starts in London at the time of the plague through to the Great Fire and incorporates the odd grizzly murder. The story is really a thin framework upon which was hung a lavish spectacle of acrobatics, stunts and illusions with a distinctly macabre theme. There was a sprinkling of nudity and sexy writhing that kept my husband interested and grotesquely shocking moments that had me cringing with a mix of disgust, intrigue and pure delight in equal measures (memorably a dwarf attaching a vacuum cleaner nozzle  to his penis and dragging said vacuum cleaner around the stage with the power of suction)

My favourite characters were fantastically sinister doll like twins that did an aerial silk performance (the fabric was blood spattered of course). The strength, precision and beauty was breathtaking. I loved that our seats were close enough to the stage for me to notice that one of the performers had a tear in her tan tights. Close enough to see every twist and turn they made of the ribbons around their bodies before relying on that combination to bring them to a halt as they allowed themselves to unwind and fall. If I were to run away and join the circus (highly unlikely at my age!) I would want to train in this discipline. I can close my eyes and imagine myself swirling and twirling to the oohs and aahs of appreciative onlookers. The reality would no doubt be much less graceful and considerably more painful!

The whole show was set to the loud rock music of Dr Haze and his band. I have to admit that it gave me a bit of headache (possibly the downside of having seats close enough to the stage to see holes in hosiery) but I had a wonderful nostalgic moment when they performed a reworking of The Sweet's song Hellraiser.

Hellraiser was a hit in 1973. I would have been 9 years old. I remember buying the 7" single to go with my other favourite record by the same band Blockbuster. I carefully wrote my name on the sleeves. I was madly in love with Steve priest, the bass guitarist. Those singles were treasured possessions which I still own. And I can still sing along to all the words.... which I did! I am having a strong desire right now to search through my vinyl and power up the turntable.

After the performance we shared a bag of chips (no ketchup!) before driving home to relieve the babysitters from duty.

I am so grateful that my husband indulges my passion for the macabre. I can't imagine that going to see a show like this would be high on his wish list. However, as much as I enjoyed indulging his passion by going to see Brighton and Hove Albion playing at home, I think he did take a certain amount of pleasure from it (if only on account of the scantily clad females).

Me (with stupid expression) meeting the wonderfully camp vampire from Circus of Horrors (that's me on the left!)

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