Madhouse Circus is decidedly the latter.
And there's nothing wrong with that, but I did find myself comparing it to other circus shows I've seen at various points along the way.
This is also the second time I've seen Madhouse Circus... the first time being their Alice in the Madhouse show a couple of years ago. But this was so very different... firstly, Alice was more story driven and secondly I think possibly the entire cast is different to the first time (one or both of the girls may be the same, I'm not sure).
This time around the cast is Jon Bonaventura, Phoebe Carlson, Flick Lannan, juggler Byron Hutton, Reece Cooper and Jake Silvestro. And for the record, just like last time I did indeed have a brief crush on two of the performers, this time around it was Jon and Jake... but they're both gorgeous and buff and oh so flexible, can you really blame me?
Okay, let's get the stuff I didn't like so much out of the way first...
Firstly, while the "illuminate" idea is an interesting one, it gets in the way of the performance on more than one occasion (both Phoebe's bottle walking trick, which I'm sure was amazing, I just couldn't see enough of it to tell... or Reece's handstand routine with the torches when I much rather would have seen him properly), or else it's dropped entirely for major sections.
The bits where it worked, it worked well, such as the juggling, but other than that, not so much.
Secondly the rope work trick with Phoebe and Jon is AMAZING... but feels a little tonally weird with the rest of the show, especially with the very dark ending. In fact, the whole show feels a little oddly balanced, after the great opening (more on that in a second) the front half is a little bit reserved, whereas the second half is much more upbeat and high energy. Particularly Phoebe and Flick's hula hoop routine which was absolutely tonally perfect and really got me laughing and engaged.
Their number and the opening were probably the parts I liked the most... I do enjoy a show where they turn the usual "no flash photography" announcement on it's head by following it up with "these bodies are too nice to hide away" (or something similar) and then having everyone take out their phones and the performers pose.
It's also where sitting in the front row comes in handy...
And the whole blacklight clubs thing was fantastic too, especially with his matching costume.
Oh, and Flick's routine in the German wheel was the first time I think I've seen one of those used up close, and it's a hell of a thing, especially since she managed to throw it front one side of the tent to the other seemingly effortlessly. It's a little bit of a shame there wasn't really room in the tent for her to do anything beyond a straight line... but even so it was great to watch.
All in all, it was a solid and entertaining circus show with an appealing cast.