Circus Of Horrors

This seemed to be a bit of fun, campy entertainment, so I grabbed a friend and headed to Circus Of Horrors – Voodoo at the New Wimbledon Theatre. I had no idea how wrong I was…

As the name suggests, it is basically a circus, but with horror elements. What might have been called a freak show in the olden days and probably falls under the body horror umbrella today. At least that’s what I expected. What I got was a pathetic mishmash of racism and sexism with an aging, self-aggrandising ring master.

While many of the acts on their own are very very good and show impressive skills, the way this show is organised is dreadfully outdated and not up to modern day standards. The circus of horrors tries to tell a story, but miserably fails by cramming weird story elements between stunning acts, detracting from the individual performers. As the title might suggest, they went with a Voodoo storyline, so obviously they had to go for racist tropes by making the black dance troupe, who were undoubtedly the most skilled and stunning act in the entire show, sit in cages like wild animals, dance in animal skin outfits and, of course, not get a single chance to revel in the applause that they clearly deserved. As soon as their dance performance was over, often even before it was quite done, the ring master would rush them off the stage, stand in front of them or find another way to steal their ovations. The massive racism wasn’t even subtle, at the end of the show every single performer was announced and got a chance to receive cheers and applause from the audience. Except, of course, the black dance troupe, who didn’t even get one second of applause of their own as the ring master rude stepped in front of them to steal their cheers for himself.

Of course, the women in this show all had to wear extremely skimpy outfits that didn’t have anything to do with their individual acts, and the way the presenter talked about them was plainly disgusting. Especially from a ring master who seems to have no apparent skills other than being an old white man. Some of the acts seemed quite superfluous and so very outdated that I’m surprised they haven’t crumbled to dust in front of us.

I’m absolutely disgusted with how this show was presented. The vast majority of the performers on their own would have been fantastic to watch if they weren’t crammed into a racist, sexist shit show by a weirdly superfluous ring master. One rainbow sloths that is solely for the dance group who were stunningly amazing yet didn’t get any of the applause they so clearly deserved.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Zweeb Zweeberson says:

    I went for old time’s sake to see the Circus of horrors on their 25th anniversary tour, in January 2020, and came out equally horrified for all the wrong reasons. The Circus has not aged well, but I think had the dance troupe of black artists been in the original line up I had seen I probably wouldn’t have come to any anniversary shows! I found this article searching to see if anyone had mentioned any of horrific issues being ignored by the mainstream press when reviewing the Circus of Horrors as I needed to know it wasn’t just me seeing the rascism, sexism and othering of those with physical differences. I am the last person to be “that” SJW but some things are just plain wrong and the Circus of Horrors, if it is to survive, needs to realise what mistakes it is repeating and realise that the adage “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” does NOT apply to their lazy act development and they CAN present a real Circus of Horrors that celebrates it’s diverse acts without objectifying their artists and using their skills to project a man who’s age and actions do not befit the person he is trying to promote himself as, which is pretty sad on its own. The way they seem to have adapted the act is to just make the audience verbally agree to not be a wussy sensitive person who takes insult in everything as a kind of waiver to continue their act without changing any of the genuinely troubling content, including painting their awesome black dance troupe/gymnasts as “savages” and making them perform what can only be described as a dance out of a racist 1950’s cartoon.

    The way that John Haze presents himself as a smouldering, sexy rock G-d just makes a person feel like he harasses the female members of the Circus of Horrors and I wouldn’t be surprised is there isn’t a number of victims, who when they feel the time is right will be bringing their stories to the public about Haze’s expectations and behaviour towards them if they wanted to be part of the circus.

    Still I am glad it wasn’t just me who has felt this way about the Circus of Horrors but I am horrified that it’s been difficult to find articles that call out the massive issues in their act. If the issues it creates are not publicly discussed, how can pressure be put on John Haze to do better? Well done on the honest review. I hope it isn’t another 3 years before the Circus of Horrors gets it’s act together.

    1. Bianca says:

      I have to say, I was a little confused why I received a reply for such an old blog entry. And after reading it I was even more surprised to find that the Circus Of Horrors STILL exists in the same format three years on! That’s just so sad.
      Back when I had seen this problematic show, I was told by several people that it’s just good old English humour and that’s why I didn’t understand it, so I am so glad to read that I am not the only one who sees massive issues with an antiquated show format like this. Especially the extremely talented dance group who were made up as savages, you phrased that so well! I’d expect that in a 1950s cartoon, not in 20bloody20!
      I wonder why there isn’t more widespread talk about this kind of things. I’ve seen so many different shows and variety acts, surely people have noticed that this one just isn’t up to today’s standards and needs a severe overhaul? Is there a place where discussions like this can be openly had? Are we seeing things others aren’t? I just don’t understand how a show like that can still exist in 2020.

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