As night falls Zippos Frenchifies into a Cirque, and grown-ups in the audience are invited to treat themselves to a VIP box with added champagne and chocs in the Big Top. The show has a gothic edge: ‘fairy tales and scary tales’ are promised by our ringmistress Nicky D Newman, a wild-haired femme fatale in a revealing white ballgown.
So the scene is set: the compact circus ring is bathed in ominous red light as the grimmer elements of the fairy tale canon are referenced between the acts. At least, that’s what can be gleaned from our MC, whose tendency to bellow into her face mic render her portentous utterances difficult to comprehend. It’s as well then, that the headline act, The Globe of Death and Quad Bikes, delivers. To the smell of the petrol, and the roar of thrash metal, four stunt riders on Yamaha 125s speed into a spherical metal cage and accelerate: only momentum and split-second timing preventing it all descending into a grisly heap at the base of the globe. Such jaw-dropping synchronicity is echoed, in a more sinuous way, by the Zulu Acrobats, although the addition of chimp masks to their dandified costumes has a disturbing effect. Such discomfiture is heightened when Nicky tears off her gown to reveal full dominatrix regalia, complete with whip, then stands menacingly but rather pointlessly during the acts. Nonetheless, the thrills - and potential for hideous spills - are worth rolling up for if you like circus with a bit of an edge.