The Circus of Horrors, Forum Theatre, Billingham, until Saturday.

EXPECT to be shocked, sickened and sprayed with various fluids - the most macabre circus imaginable is back in town.

Doktor Haze, the ghoulish, white-haired old rocker, is still encouraging his freakish cast at The Circus of Horrors to commit all manner of atrocities. And lovers of the show, which became a regular for many years at the Stockton Riverside Festival, will not be disappointed.

As the audience watch through their fingers, with toes curled up and a permanent grimace - all the old favourites make an appearance.

Wasp Boy's tiny waist defies belief, as does his ability to hammer a hook through his tongue, attach it to a cart and wheel other cast members across the stage by it. He's joined by Bride of Wasp Boy, a talented lady who has an eye-watering knack of picking up huge milk jugs just by using her nipple rings.

And Gary Stretch, a man who can cover his nose with skin from his neck, is still drawing gasps of horror and disbelief from the crowds.

A new one on me was the weird scientist who, while holding a light bulb, made it switch on and off by electrocuting himself up the backside.

But it's not just the cast which is abused. The audience is insulted almost from the moment they walk through the doors by zombies, vampires and blood-splattered freaks.

Not for the faint-hearted.

Published: 20/11/2003