Identity

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As lead dancer Caitlin Taylor stepped onto the Greenside stage, she found herself challenged by some sort of device which seemed to both attract and repel her as she roved over the stage. She was soon joined by an entourage of six other excellent dancers who immediately began to throw each other and Caitlin around to spectacular effect. They were to leave Caitlin and return to her often throughout the show, when her quieter moments she would offer up a dialogue. Her speech was personal and real, covering all the abhorrent things that had happened to her in her early teens. A period of life when protection was greatly needed, yet a time when you wanted nothing more than to cut the bonds. Illustration came when she stood upon shoulders and trusted herself in the arms of her fellows by a courageous dive.

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The performance took us to wonderful highs and the most poignant lows. In her solitary moments she would play songs on the guitar; that she had composed especially for the show. When her unhappiness came to the fore she would appear fragile, like she was made from porcelain very easy to crack, evidence of past damage done. But her strength was emphasised in each expressive scene when we saw her willingness to take us on and say why these years had fallen so far for her. She performed as if in bandages of white which contrasted with the black worn by her entourage, serving to set her apart in achieving her terrible transformation.

I found it enthralling to watch all the transformations – sometimes terrible – that Caitlin went through in this very physical show; transformations that we all go though in life. Mixing all kinds of theatrical dancing, the troupe portrayed the passion and strength of the character as she came through like some sort of warrior figure. In the end she did find her identity and though in tatters triumphantly sang that she knew little in life but had the potential of teaching it. Everything she held seemed like something holy until the last dance turned things around in a display of celebration.

Daniel Donnelly

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Identity

Greenside @ Infirmary Street

Aug 12-17, 19-24 (16:10)

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www.ctcdancecompany.com

Hotel Paradiso

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Performing at the Fringe is all about doing something different, about striving for progress in your artistic field. International circus company, Lost In Translation, have taken that spirit to heart & evolved something special out of the traditional circus format. Everything that should be there is there; such as fantastic feats of balance & acrobatics, dizzying hula-hoops, Elizabethan juggling & ankle-snap-jerk-rope-drops from the higher reaches of the tent, all of which were delivered flawlessly & pluck out our gasps with ease. But we also have a story – the owner of the eponymous Hotel Paradiso & its raggle-taggle collection of staff workers are threatened with eviction. The plot is simple, but what is wonderful is how the story is woven into those aforementioned set-piece, traditional tricks, stunts & show-pieces. The unifying theme of a hotel is a beautiful idea, which all comes across like a combination of Fawlty Towers & The Grand Budapest. The results are so impressive, it is like a re-codification of the art.
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When it comes to family entertainment, Hotel Paradiso shoots a clear bullseye – there is something for everyone. A noontide show, I attended with my wife (the kids are back at school), but despite our combined age of 90 the both of us were genuinely woooing & aahhhing at the appropriate moments. At one point I even found myself twisting my spine & contorting my back muscles watching a young lady as she swivelled & braided her body into alphabetti spaghetti shapes, while dangling from an extremely tall chandelier. The Underbelly Circus has also done an amazing job of creating superb marquee arenas for us to enjoy our shows in – so authentic & charming – & combining the place with such a frisky & fabulous show as Hotel Paradiso is a blend worth buying.

 

Damian Beeson Bullen

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Hotel Paradiso

Aug 13-24 (12:10)

Underbelly Circus Hub

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hwww.lostintranslationcircus.com

Comfort Food Cabaret

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Imagination Workshop – Kings Hall
Venue 119 – @ 17.15pm (13th August)


Comfort Food Cabaret is set in the beautiful Kings Hall in the former George Hotel on Edinburgh’s historic George Street. A four-piece band, a mobile kitchen and a singing chef called Michelle!! Your first thoughts are, how will this work, what is it all about and how will the food taste? Comfort Food springs from the genuis of Michelle Pearson. Having traversed the seas all the way from Adelaide, Michelle is the singing queen of food who entices you in with her witty charm and humour. Having mastered her own recipes and cooking style, with the added touch of soft blues music live in the background, the scene is set for an evening meal that would surely hold many memories for years to come. With balls of goodness (Risoto Balls) kicking of the proceedings the journey through the mysterious menu begins… investigating the importance to food in our life is a paramount part of Comfort Food, well who else could sing “Feeling Good” while eating crisps…

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Michelle has created a storytelling cabaret musical experience like no other. If the Edinburgh Fringe was created to bring diverse and educational shows to its shores, then Comfort Food has succeeded in more ways than one. Creative, comforting, wholesome, warming and informing – you begin to see food in a different light. I’ll never forget Michelle  holding a jar of Nutella and singing “Missing You”, plus hearing other classic songs such as “9 to 5” by Dolly Patron, and the Stones’ “Wild Horses,” all accompained by a delicious bowl of spaghetti bolognese. Michelle’s Comfort Food really does hit the spot… singing, food, dancing, pasta, chocolate mousse, laughs and a warm cosy atmosphere, just perfect!!

Raymond Speedie

five-stars

From Judy to Bette: The Stars of Old Hollywood

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Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose
Jul 31 – Aug 26 (19.30)


This was one spectacular theatre piece. The great room at the Gilded Balloon boasted comfortable seats, a large space and an enticing stage. Rebecca Perry stepped out resplendent in a gorgeous Hollywood-style red dress and held out her arms to us, ready to burst into song. Courtesy of Perry, we were going to spend an hour in the company of four legends of Hollywood: Judy Garland, Lucille Ball, Betty Hutton and Bette Davis.
In a mixture of music and story, the performer took on the persona of each of the stars in turn, seeming to switch from one to another with seamless ease and performing their classic signature songs and routines with perfect pitch. Not to mention clever costume changes with various items added on top of her red dress to denote the different characters. And in between, she told us the stories of their remarkable careers and how they each in their own way had to fight their way to the top in the face of all kinds of male criticism and manipulation. All were trailblazers for women following in their wake.

The show impressed us as much as a whole entourage of performers, you had to remind yourself it was just one solo performer belting out the well-loved songs of yesteryear with relish and an enthusiasm that grabbed your attention. When it came to “Over the Rainbow” all were close to tears as Rebecca invoked the spirit of Judy Garland in a wondrous rendition that struck right to the heart of the original. The hour was an absolutely perfect homage to days gone by, repeatedly hitting just the right tone to evoke the golden era of Hollywood. A voice to bring the house down, articulate and heart-warming storytelling, this was a spectacular hour of glorious pure entertainment.

Daniel Donnelly

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Vivir: Flamenco Guitar & Dance

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Vivir has been five years in the making, developed in the studios of Madrid by the soaring comet that is Aylin Eleonora. She has fallen in love with Flamenco, but is also something of a poetess, & wishes to expand, bend & stretch the possibilities of her chosen artform. Her guitarist, Raul Mannola, seems a visitor from another planet, astoundingly proficient; to watch his fingerwork & hear his chimes is to have our world dissolve in a momentary vision of the empyrean. Vivir, as a show, sees Aylin changing dress for each of her pieces, opening with a stunning white silk gown, which billows like a sail in a storm. Later she would revert to the traditional reds & blacks of Flamenco. As she danced, I loved the way she attacked her moves – breathtaking at times – conjuring eagles & dragons with her flamboyent shawl-work.
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Between costume changes, Raul played piece after piece of perfect Flamenco. Overall, Vivir is a thirst-quenching experience for those who dwell in the European north, starved of the sunshine of the south. You can almost smell the Andalusian harvest, & can almost feel the spirit which rose up against Napoleon. There is also the penultimate song, free-form playing based on the raga scales of North India, which showed Aylin & Raul pushing their boundaries back even further, & also demonstrating that Siva & Parvati, linga & yoni, still retain the ability to manifest on our mortal plane.

Damian Beeson Bullen
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VIVIR: Flamenco Guitar & Dance 

C venues – C Aquila

Aug 10-18 (18:25)

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www.aylineleonora.com

Tarot

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Assembly Rooms – Bijou
Aug 13-18, 20-24 (23:10)


Joanna Vymeris, creator of 2016’s sell out show Alice in Wonderland has returned with Tarot. Performed by The Feathers of Daedalus, an eclectic troupe of nomadic acrobatics and aerial artists and a live band in a decadent 14 metre diameter Spiegel tent. The group pride themselves as a contemporary circus company adapting surreal stories through the magical medium of circus.

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Tarot has an unusual but stimulating concept, the audience selects on-stage tarot cards then the cast perform choreography based on Death, The Emperor, The Chariot etc. With 22 card options, only six cards are drawn each night, every show promises to be different, while the acrobats and musicians never know how the ‘roulette’ show could evolve. Each card-oriented choreography leads to a distinctive interpretation of a chosen card’s characteristics. Either through escalated intensity or a more fragile approach, the casts overall effort portrayed a sense of esotericism adorned with humour that is reflected the old Tarot-reading art. Some circus compositions shared elements from Dead Can Dance, as they evoked a raw ritual-like visual ambiance. Demanding and creative manoeuvres, the Tarot choreographies maintained their atmospheric vibe and forced the audience to focus on certain figures/aspects at all times.

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The idea came to me when I had my cards read for the fist time in New Orleans last autumn. I fell in love with the world of Tarot. The imagery of the cards, the history, the stories and the mystery. I returned to London and met with the female lead of my previous show Coppelia who is a clairvoyant. I ran the idea past her of trying to merge live audience readings with circus and she was excited. Joanna Vymeris Read the full interview
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One of the cast’s strongest aspects was keeping the audience engaged, but choreography / spoken / music aside, the dual nature of interaction with the audience was crucial. An intriguing factor was the multifaceted eye contact the members of the cast maintained with the audience. Pierced and static or panoramic and dynamic, the eye contact was a really successful form of silent interaction that kept the audience magnetised. The music was not just secondary background to show, it was a core characteristic of everything that unfolded before our eyes. The live jazz soul-oriented band enriched the show by leading the artists dance. Poetic, but non verbose, humorous, but atmospheric at all times, ethereal or intense, Tarot is a soulful and playful journey that adjusts the past at the present and vice versa without feeling pretentious or forced.
Sarah Lewis
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Tarot

Assembly Rooms – Bijou

Aug 9-18, 20-24 (23.10)

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www.feathersofdaedalus.co.uk

The Secret Room

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Lauriston Castle

11th, 13th, 14th 22nd Of August


There is a first time for everything and today Divine found a treasure that had never been brought to his attention before. An enchanted beautiful castle on the banks of The Firth Of Forth. It was the gardens of this beautiful place that took my breath away, planting seeds for future investigation of a Healing nature – and its on the 41 bus route. A short walk from Davidsons Mains. The Castle was built in the 16th century and has housed some important historical people. John Napier being one of them, a Grand Wizard best known as the discoverer of logarithms. He also invented the so-called “Napier’s bones” and made common the use of the decimal point in arithmetic and mathematics. We learned this from the historian’s welcome speech as we gathered in the gardens at the entrance to this place of wonder, who specifically described John Napier as one of the wizards that had lived in the Castle. Being a Wizard too, Divine was as excited as the nerds in the audience.

The enriching beauty of Lauriston Castle and to have been there for the first time was a five star wowing factor. My lovely reviewing companion Jo Legg was a first timer too. We were both suitably impressed with our experience and we hadn’t even entered the castle yet. The clouds were hanging dark and pendulous over The Firth Of Forth, the first of the Scottish Monsoon thunderstorms had given its daily cleansing and just as we were welcomed into the castle, the 2nd storm rolled in from Fife, sheet lightning crackled across the Forth as we were each given a playing card to hold. The Hearts and Diamonds on one team. The Spades and Clubs on the other. Divine was like a kid in a sweetshop. The castle is packed with lots of art treasures, paintings and tapestries that had me aching to investigate them individually. I had to remind myself that this was not the reason we were there.

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As we waited to enter the Library for our first magician experience ,Jo mentioned that one of the guys in the paintings looked uncannily like Divine, its only on doing the research now that I discover that the guy in the painting was none other than John Napier. Spooky!!!!!!! The door to the Library opened and we were introduced to our first magician. Drew McAdam. that displayed the uncanny ability to read minds. Going out of his way to explain how he was not psychic and was able to achieve his super sleuth revelations through psychology and sensory response. Very impressive indeed. To amp up the wow factor that little bit more, Drew explained that he was friends with Uri Geller and one of the things that Uri had imparted to Drew, was the miraculous gift of spoon bending. Woaaaaaaah. Divine had never seen it in real life before. And it happened right before our eyes. in real life. One spoon broke in two completely. Fantastic stuff.

There was a short wait untill we were ushered into the Dining Room. The spirits of past inhabitants of Lauriston Castle were queueing up to be channelled, I had to close my channel to concentrate on the gifted playing card shark that was about to mesmerize us with card tricks. Lewis Barlow, is a local magician specialising in the sleight of hand and has earned his stripes on The Free Fringe Circuit in years past. Notably selling out the Voddoo Rooms in 2018. Divine and the other guests that had been invited into the Dining Room to witness Lewis Barlow in an intimate setting. If you like playing card Magik you will love Lewis.

Then from the Dining Room to the Drawing Room. To be welcomed by the amazing Adam Black. Master of the Rubik’s Cube with superhuman dexterity of hand, the excitement was reaching fever pitch as time and time again, the Rubik’s Cube was completed with breathtaking speed. Adam made Rubiks Cubes vanish before our very eyes and even completing the puzzle without all the twisty bits involved. Captivating his small audience. We were all stood with our mouths wide open in awe at what we had just experienced and then the show was over.

Lauriston Castle is Divines new friend, such an important place of Historical interest, eye candy at every turn and the perfect escape from the festival packed city. A refreshing and revitalising place of natural wonder and artistic intrigue, The Magicians were just fantastic and the venue is out of this world interesting and its history is mind bogglingly exciting. A perfect antidote to Fringe Fatigue.

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

five-stars