[For behind the scenes coverage of Cirque Berzerk, see Liz Ohanesian's "Behind the Scenes with Cirque Berzerk".]
What: Cirque Berzerk
Where: Club Nokia
Suggested attire for attendees of the wonderfully decadent and deranged Cirque Berzerk is "circus fabulous" so we hoped to see a lot of white face paint, red corsets, and other fanciful freakiness in the crowd at the show at Club Nokia this past Saturday night. Unfortunately, there wasn't much.
Though this may have been more about the show time (we opted for the 8 pm performance instead of the 11 pm, which offers patrons a chance to party with the cast afterward), overall, Berzerk seems a slightly less interactive experience inside the confines of a theatre (in tourist- friendly LA Live no less) than it was inside the actual tent where the spectacle was originally showcased, not to mention the dramatic desert dance orgies of Burning Man where the show was born.
Still, considering the limitations that come with a more traditional live music venue, the steampunk-themed Cirque conjures all the creepy, sexy and astounding thrills one might expect and then some.
Fans of the fantastical LA based troupes such as Lucent Dossier, The Do Lab and Mutaytor (all of which feature overlapping members and friends) will be familiar with the show's arty, lusty and somewhat Gothic aesthetics, but this new production certainly has a wider appeal.
The general theme is one of death, both literal and symbolic. Death of inhibitions, death of monotony and normalcy are evoked via the lead female character's journey throughout an acrobatic, aerialist, burlesque vixen, sideshow oddity and fire-breather filled "underworld."
Nearly as important and noteworthy as the show's imagery? The hypnotic music played by a live band to the side of the stage, which meshes vaudeville-era jazz, circus sounds and dark industrial rhythms. It was composed by co-creator Kevin Bourque, who plays a devil-like character in the show (he's the blonde dreadheaded "face" seen on Berzerk's ads and billboards around town).
Not surprisingly the climax of Berzerk sees the female protagonist succumb to its hedonistic temptations, and so does the audience.
Even if it's not under an actual big top and most of the audience comes in jeans (trio pictured below were an exception), the sinister acts and environment -which includes vendors hawking Steampunk garb in the theatre, show decor scattered throughout and cast members wandering around before and after the show- are a seductive combination.
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Tip for those buying tickets for the final week run: try to get a balcony seat. We saw the show from both levels of the theatre and the view from the upper level is better for all the aerial performances. Plus, looking down into the hell-themed happenings just makes sense, right?
Cirque Berzerk's nearly month-long run continues this Thursday, Jan. 27 and comes to an end on Sunday, Jan. 30. Friday and Saturday has two performances (8 p.m. and 11 p.m.) and Sunday, a special afternoon performance at 4 p.m. has been added. See CB's website for more info and check out a behind the scenes look at the show here.