“Cirque of the Dead” delivers Halloween horror, gore & erotica

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“Cirque of the Dead” delivers Halloween horror, gore & erotica

Shayla Manning / Journal Contributor

Shayla Manning / Journal Contributor

Shayla Manning / Journal Contributor

Shayla Manning / Journal Contributor

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Blood, sex, clowns and zombies took the stage as the Boston Circus Guild put on their annual performance of ‘Cirque of the Dead’ this past Saturday night.

The Halloween-themed event took place at the American Repertory Theater’s Oberon club-style-atmosphere in Cambridge, where guests in costumes of all kinds packed into the sold-out show.

High-energy Boston based comic, Wes Hazard hosted the show, dressed in a flashy purple velvet suit. He wasn’t just introducing the acts, he became the host of a very gory game that was going to take place. Contestants (members of Boston Circus Guild) took part in a Jumanji-style board game where they had to fight for their lives through tortuous acts that their dice roll decided for them. The narrative followed the four contestants who were “picked at random” and followed their fight for survival.

Four contestants were given the titles of player “one” through “four,” and endured physically demanding performances to complete the game, where the extraordinary circus acts such as aerial hoops and silks, burlesque and contact juggling were displayed. The audience stared in awe as the performers flew through the air above them, and enticed them with their skills.

Hazard would take occasional breaks from the game, in which the avant-garde jazz stylings of the Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band would send the audience into a full-on dance party. Along with the music, a montage of clips from iconic horror films played on a giant screen on stage.

Primarily featuring aerial acts, one performer danced through ropes while dressed as a clown, to “Sexy and I Know It,” by the group LMFAO. Another performer, ‘player one,’ pulled a card for his round for the game and was “electrocuted” during his aerial hoop performance, twirling in the air, and revealed a striking glow-in-the-dark paint all over his body.

The show also featured a burlesque dancer that performed more of a torture than a tease, as she stripped and proceeded to stab ‘player two’ to death, as fake blood poured over her and the stage. ‘Player two’ later came back to perform as well, where he ripped off his clothes to reveal a flesh-eating infection on his skin, which was covered in eyeballs.  All of the sexiness, of course, included gore.

Throughout playing the game, Hazard often made jokes to the audience, repeatedly referencing the movie Jumanji as he discovered no one’s lives were safe until the game was completed. His humor took away from the horror a bit, but also entertained.

Quite possibly the most eye-catching performance of them all included two aerial silk artists dancing above a satanic star and candles on the floor, as bone-chilling music played throughout the theater.

In one of the final rounds of the game, Hazard pulls a card that summons a performer dressed as the iconic vampire Nosferatu. Nosferatu enters to comedic music, then goes on to execute a mind-blowing performance where he juggles a small crystal ball. Hazard revealed what Nosferatu possessed was the Moon, and he needed it to finish the game.

The show ended as the ‘contestants’ and other performers of the show ran on the stage and went into a full out dance, as the live band played upbeat music behind them, celebrating the end of the game.

While most of the performances were comic horror, some proved to be actually quite scary.

Cirque of the Dead puts on a wildly entertaining show, including all the guts, gore and sexiness people love to see around Halloween. The performers, as well as the workings of the lights, makeup and music, made for a spectacularly spooky show.

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