The lights go down, the music booms and a voice warns the audience at Wolverhampton's Civic Hall that chavs and the easily offended should leave immediately.
A vibrant mix of horror, humour, delight and disgust, the 90-minute show at Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall last night had members of the audience screaming and gasping at the cast’s unique array of talents.
From sword-swallowing to eating fire, this is not a show for the faint-hearted – or those offended by nudity, gore or rude humour.
But in now it’s 18th year, one would expect the show to have gone from strength to strength, having even showcased its members’ skills on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent in 2011.
But instead, the show now seems to lack some of its previously-flaunted wow factor. The Circus of Horrors performers still put on a great variety show, encompassing hard rock, acrobatics, magic and pyrotechnics, but their tricks are no longer the shocking feats they once were.
But the show has lost one of its main stars, Gary ‘Stretch’ Turner - the man with the world’s stretchiest skin. Stretching the skin from his neck over his face to cover his mouth and making a table top-style platform from his stomach, Turner added the mind-boggling magic the show now lacks.
The performance did, however, still have the audience on the edge of their seats as African dancers created incredible human towers and jumped through burning skipping ropes.
Tattoed and pierced Hannibal Helmurto also put on a fantastic performance, fitting huge knives down his throat – one of which was bent at a 25 degree angle, forcing Helmurto to bend as he swallowed the blade.
And so, although the show seems to have tamed down a little since its earlier days, it is still a spectacle like no other. A true experience – if you can stomach the content.