When the audience have to be prompted to applaud, it's usually a sign the show has gone badly wrong. But this was absolutely not the case with the Circus of Horrors.

The crowd were left so aghast by the stunts on stage that many were genuinely too shocked to respond. It was a performance that had everything.

A sword-swallowing fork-tongued man with Siberian mammoth ivory for teeth, a woman with the world's strongest hair, a quadruple-jointed human voodoo doll and acrobatic sisters suspended from the Theatre Royal's ceiling – and plenty in between.

When Lucifer's lovechild shows you to your seat with a tirade of abuse, it's quickly apparent this is no mainstream, run-of-the-mill billing.

Audience participation takes on a whole new meaning with this show, which is not for the faint-hearted.

To add the allure, a metal band accompanies the performers on stage for the duration – which is a stunt in itself with the musicians' only rest coming when the eclectic crowd took a collective sigh of relief at the interval.

The music is actually a clever way to break up the circus acts, stopping it becoming a conveyor belt of fearless feats. It ensures those watching are gripped by the action - which is laced with sinister humour.

Without giving too many tricks away, highlights include a flying woman becoming a human Catherine Wheel, skeletons fearlessly creating a four-man pyramid, knife-throwing at a 20 stone bodybuilder wearing a pig's head and a simpleton piercing his face with mini swords.

The ringmaster and the company’s creator Dr Haze borders on self-indulgent and having run against Caroline Lucas for the Brighton Kemptown seat it's easy to see why – but the fact he stood in the foyer to shake his audience's hand and as they left, thanking them for coming, was the bizarre ending that sums up the franchise's Voodoo tour.

He and the crew will return to Sussex on February 3 when they play the Royal Hippodrome in Eastbourne.