Step right up, a circus has come to town … that is, Downtown, Los Angeles. It’s not your typical circus either. It’s Cirque Berzerk, a circus delving into the depths of the dark and taboo life of the underground. There are no animals, but it’s animalistic. The performers aren’t flawlessly beautiful, but have the quirky beauty that perfectly matches the ambiance of the theme of Cirque Berzerk. Ranging from athletically built acrobats to stilt-walkers to burlesque dancers, they all give equally exciting performances that captivate the audience, perhaps making you feel like you are at Burning Man, where these shows originated, and forget you are in the middle of industrial Los Angeles.
Hosted by a dramatic ringleader that looks like a character straight from Tim Burton’s creation, the circus introduces the audience to a seemingly alternate universe, where freaks run wild and the stranger you think they are, the more normal they are in their world. As the ringleader proclaims, they want us to wake up from the mundane routine of life and experience the subversive life that was meant to be lived. The show certainly tries, as from the beginning, it satirize the daily grind of life, as men and women in suits and briefcases march up and down the stage almost trampling the central character of the circus, a naïve woman who has yet to be exposed to the darker joys in life.
As are the tendencies in real life, the lures of the underworld are full of excitement and danger…and that is exactly what Cirque Berzerk is filled with during their roughly 90 minute show. In fact, by the end of the show, the antics of the acrobats and dancers became so attractive to the naive girl that she succumbs to the darkness and revels in the freedom she has now discovered. And that is also what the intentions of the show are for its audience.
But the show itself is not the only entertainment. Before, during the intermission, and after the show, a live retro band performs in a tent a few steps away, where a bar is set up, along with food and retail booths to fully take in and enjoy the throwback atmosphere . Watching the attendees of the circus adds to the entertainment, as an array of people come to enjoy Cirque Berzerk, including those who come dressed as if they could be part of the show.
The performances can be described as dirty and raw, yet beautiful, befitting the location of the circus tent in the middle of Los Angeles State Historic Park, a park that is situated in between a road and industrial warehouses, with the skyscraper buildings of Downtown a few miles away in the background. It is an unexpected and wonderful event to attend on a warm balmy night in Los Angeles. Some outsiders may claim that Los Angeles resembles a circus in and of itself. But this time, Circus has literally come to Los Angeles, and if Cirque Berzerk succeeds in its plan, a little bit of their underground lifestyle has penetrated the people of its city.If you are inclined to remove yourself from the routine of your daily life for a few hours and experience what can be best described as a circus blended with a burlesque and a freak show, I dare you to attend Cirque Berzerk, now running through the end of Summer in Los Angeles and traveling across the nation throughout the year.