A shock to the senses
Fire-breathing, sword-swallowing and contortionists squeezing themselves into tiny bottles is not what you usually expect when you go to the theatre, but when The Circus of Horrors is in town, expectations go out of the window.
This new breed of circus is a complete shock to the sense with its freak show oddities, daredevil stunts, air acrobatics and live rock music. The eerie cast of 25 vampires, ghouls and monsters will perform some of the world's greatest, most daring and bizarre stunts, in this Alice in Horrorland-type story.
One of the characters, Egor the fire-eating butler, can't wait to come back to Cardiff as he was born in the city - 302 years ago, he claims! Egor's family are all performers and he has been in the circus all his life. "I've travelled so much that I don't really call anywhere home, but it will be nice to come back to Cardiff. I have special memories of performing here with different circuses over the years," he said.
Egor learned to eat fire when he was just 12 and has performed in circuses all over the world, but says The Circus of Horrors is his favourite. "It is so different from traditional circuses. You have to see if to believe it," he says. "You might only see a few stunts or acts that shock or impress you at a normal circus, here you get two hours' worth. There's a lot of interaction and screaming from the audience - usually the adults seem more scared than the kids," Egor says.
The Circus of Horrors have been bombarding big-top audiences with their shocking stunts and aerobatic antics for eight years now. Starting with a debut at the Glastonbury Festival, they have now made performances in South America, Europe and Japab, as well as television appearances on Don't Try This At Home, V Graham Norton and London's Burning to name a few.
Ant and Dec also tried to copy some of the less death-defying stunts on their Saturday Night Takeaway. Egor describes the night out as a cross between going to see the Rocky Horror Show and a live rock concert. The very un-politically correct circus creator and "undead" ringmaster, Doktor Haze, insists that the circus is a modern day freak show. "Freak shows still fascinate people, look at Big Brother and Jerry Springer - if they aren't freak shows I don't know what is," he said.
This is a display of the weird and wonderful, featuring "natural freaks" like Gary Stretch, the only person in the country to stretch his skin as far as he does, and "man-made freaks" like Swansea-born Wasp Boy who even made Graham Norton feel squeamish when he dangled heavy objects from his nipple piercings and swallowed swords.
If you have a stronger stomach, love rock and roll, comedy or the circus this will be one alternative night out you wont forget in hurry. Michelle Byrne.