Theatre | Circus of Horrors

5/5 stars 

Monday 29th October

City Varieties Music Hall


After being introduced to the ‘Royal Family of Freaks’ by ringmaster Doktor Haze, the audience were notified about getting splashed with blood and “other bodily fluids” throughout the show before being thrown into darkness. “Chavs and sissies” were told to leave the theatre, as trepidation from the surprisingly varied crowd swelled. Without any warning, disturbing people wearing sterile suits clambered over the audience to get to the stage. Cups and drinks were spilled as these ‘monsters’ crawled through the crowd. This was just an introduction to the bizarre events that were to ensue.

After touring the country for 17 years after its conception at Glastonbury Festival, and storming through to the finals of Britain’s Got Talent in 2011, the Circus of Horrors is an established modern-day freak show. The show is undeniably bizarre, with many extremely talented acts performing their weird and wonderful skills.

the Circus of Horrors is an established modern-day freak show

The tamer aspects of the show included two unbelievable acrobats, dressed as dead ballerinas, who spun from ropes and hoops attached to the ceiling. The sheer strength demonstrated wowed the audience, as they performed a perfect routine whilst suspended 10 metres in the air.  However, ‘Hair Hanging Anastasia’ shocked the crowd in a different way as she lifted people by just her hair and spun round at an incredible speed, leaving us wincing in awe.

Although the Circus of Horrors is clearly tongue-in-cheek and by no means a prim and proper art form, some parts are questionable in their approach. The poor ‘Wolfman’ from Mexico who suffers a rare condition which makes him the world’s hairiest man, was labelled “the biggest freak of us all” as he walked a ladder of razor-sharp machetes. Captain Dan, the comedic ‘demon dwarf’, also makes multiple undignified appearances throughout the show (including pulling a Henry Hoover round the stage by his penis). Circus of Horrors is certainly not to be taken too seriously, but particular parts did make me question the debatable morals behind the show.

The ‘Wolfman’ from Mexico walked a ladder of razor-sharp machetes

Hannibal Helmurto, the crazed and gruesome sword swallower, left the audience breathless. He is definitely not for the faint-hearted. After inserting multiple swords down his throat, he then proceeded to swallow a horrifically long blade with fireworks jetting out from the end. His insides must be a mess. Hannibal also allowed the audience to feel his ‘floating ribs’- a form of body modification (as fashioned by Marilyn Manson).

Circus of Horrors is like nothing I have ever seen before. It is shocking, terrifying, and made me leave the show thinking, “Did that really just happen?!” Yes, it is completely distasteful and really quite vulgar, but that just adds to the experience. And to top it all off, ringmaster Doktor Haze is allegedly campaigning to make Halloween a national bank holiday. Hoorah!


Zosia Gamgee

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