James L. Knight Center
October 8, 2010
Better Than: House of Horror - so we hear.
The Review: Rookie mistake number one: Not expecting a show with a Spanish title to be almost completely performed in Español. But who thought Circo de los Horrores - a production from Spain touted for its clowns, acrobats, and contortionists - would have much talking? Most of the characters said a few words in English before launching into rapid-fire Spanish. Mr. Nosferatu, the night's emcee, spent a lot of time sparring with the audience. At least we think he did. The only words in our native tongue were big breasts.
That's because Nosferatu kept trying to get well-endowed members of the audience onstage in various contexts that would get their jugs to jiggle. In fact, the biggest surprise from opening night was how much of the show tried to inspire laughs over frights. That means for every Linda Blair act, where a crazy lady barfs on herself before contorting so she can lick her own nether regions, there's equal time for Buster Keaton-style antics, complete with kazoos and sight gags. Think Benny Hill meets Qué Pasa Usa? meets Pan's Labyrinth.
We enjoyed the dark, Guillermo del
Toro-like moments the most: the way the horned devil chased a girl
while grunting sinister throat screams, the way the Linda Blair
contortionist actually seemed possessed in her joints as she crab-walked upside down.
But for all that, the comedic slapstick scenes watered down our delicious fright
and confused the night's macabre. For instance, in the first scene, a young gal
dies from playing too much. (Hilarious! Later we'll burn her three-foot
Her death inspires an all-night party of graveyard ghouls and zombie
circus freaks. After a member of the insane clown posse sticks a long
hypodermic needle down an audience member's ass crack, though, he licks it
repeatedly. Is this comedy or horror? Were we scared for all the wrong
The first 45 minutes of the show is like being trapped and seated inside
of a haunted house: people jumping out with chainsaws and mental
patients screaming and weaving through a very dark James L. Knight Center.
But Circo de le Horrores got less and less scary from there. We didn't seem to mind so much, though, as long as we could gawk at the feats of strength and balance onstage.
As for the comedy? Call us cranky but perhaps we just weren't in
the mood. If you're going to startle us with chainsaws in the pre-show,
don't expect us to laugh when you fall down.
We were seated in the front row of a
heavily audience-participation show, which means we spent the better
part of two hours chanting "Don't pick me. Don't pick me" -- especially
because we seemed like Nosferatu's type.
The Crowd: Laughing at the Spanish horrors like it was Qué Pasa USA?.
Overheard in the Crowd: "What'd he say?" and lots of other stuff we no comprende because it was in Español.
Random Notebook Dump: The
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crowd went gaga for a drumming trio, who spun metal balls around
themselves and crashed them into the stage with the rhythmic thumps of