The star and producer of Cirque Des Ombres is Preacher Maud’dib, a 31 year old from Dublin who is also the proud holder of six Guinness world records, including the longest time balancing a lawn mower on his chin and the most fire torches eaten in a minute.
Cirque Des Ombres, the Circus of Shadows, has gained a reputation as an exciting new way to enjoy a classic cabaret with a slightly gothic twist. It is currently playing at The Brickhouse, a large Victorian mill (now a three storey restaurant) in the heart of Shoreditch.
The entrance provides no real indication of what dark delights lie beyond.
At the Saturday matinee performance the tangible buzz of anticipation and audible shrieks of excitement create an atmosphere that wouldn’t have been out of place at a hen-do, let alone a restaurant at 3.30pm.
The show consists of two burlesque performers and Maud’dib’s sideshow routine which includes pushing an electric drill through his sinuses, balancing a live lawn mower on his chin whilst audience members throw lettuces into the spinning blades and an elaborate fire breathing routine.
Maud’dib stands around 5’,11” with black dread locks and ginger stubble. He has been performing sideshow since he was 15 and has spent years perfecting his act. He assures the audience that none of his gruesome or death-defying stunts hurt or are dangerous.
“I spend hours, literally hours going through every dangerous possibility, believe me, I’m becoming very talented at paper work and it doesn’t hurt, not if you do it right, that’s the tricky bit,” he said.
The daredevil is truly dedicated to his work. ”There are too many dangerous amateurs in the business. In this job you really have to know what you’re doing.
Practice, practice, practice, I’m always pushing myself to learn new things, to keep me one step ahead of the competition. My house is a dangerous place to be, you can’t move for knifes, fire torches and lawn mowers,” he said.
Teamwork is very important to the performers of Cirque Des Ombres. Bella Besame, 30, one of the two burlesque acts performing that afternoon, said: “You really have to trust everyone you’re working with in this business and if anyone turns up with attitude or doesn’t get on with everyone they don’t last very long.”
Maud’dib agrees, saying “even if they were the best performer in the world, if they were an arsehole I wouldn’t book them!”
He is reluctant to disclose any occasions where accidents have occurred. “It’s nearly always fine. I’ve been doing it so long now things rarely go wrong.”
Bella Besame said: “The worse injuries of the night are when we rip off our nipple tassels, that can sting.”
Cirque Des Ombres offers a unique dining experience combining delicious food with a titillating and at points disgusting show, including burlesque, boylesque, sideshow, aerial performances and comedy.
As a warning try to finish your food before Maud’dib comes on, watching a man snort a condom through his nose and pull it out through his mouth is enough to put anyone off their dinner.
Cirque Des Ombres is running until March 5 and is highly recommended for those with an interest in gore, burlesque and gothic entertainment.