Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams


Circus Hub on the Meadows

August 8-12, 14-19, 21-25 (15.00)

Having enthralled audiences in 2017, Ethiopian circus company Circus Abyssinia is back to wow Edinburgh all over again. Created by self-taught brothers Bichu and Bibi Tesfamariam, they bring with them a cast of brilliant young performers from their circus school. The performance is directed by stage and screen director Cal McCrystal and portrays the real-life story of their dreams of being in the circus. In 2010, they went on to create the first circus school made by and for Ethiopians, and embarked on a wonderful journey to develop a stand-out show full of dazzling acrobatics, dance with a hefty twist of their own culture. The brothers are now resident in the U.K., and they have performed on BBC, ITV and Channel 4.

After a colourful and energetic showcase of acrobatic dance by the men and boys in the troupe, two young women in long braids and green catsuits arrived in a crab walk to deliver a mesmerising and stunning partner yoga dance. Handstands, crabs and scorpion positions flowed and combined, the gymnastic pair balancing on top of one another in increasingly mind-blowing ways. The juggling acts to rhythmic beats seamlessly upped the challenge to multitude of balls until you barely knew where to focus your eyes. Four girls in cute and colourful outfits expertly spun polka-dot cloths on all four limbs at dizzying speed, creating a kaleidoscopic effect of lost, drunken butterflies at warp speed. When a solo performer cheerfully stepped on stage with a single hoop, no one was fooled by its apparent simplicity. As more and more rings were spun simultaneously, it became Power Hoop in overdrive to a catchy Ethiopian sound-track. By the time she rolled us a cheeky spin just around the bun on the top of her head, the crowd went wild.

The whole show has a happy, feel-good family vibe, where everyone looks like they are genuinely having a great time. Girls in pink leotards converged to resemble petals on a tropical flower, but they are no means delicate. They climbed higher and higher into a statue of scorpion splits, looking almost casual, until they took it to a point that made everyone’s mouth drop open. With just ten minutes to go, the poles came out. In synchronised moves that must require ultimate human strength, the team of men upped the ante over and over again, in the finale of a show that had the audience up on their feet in well-deserved applause.

Lisa Williams


Kevin Quantum: Vanishing Point


Underbelly Bristo Square
August 7-26

A few years back, half-way through his PhD in Physics, Kevin McMahon had a life-changing moment. He starred on the Channel 4 show ‘Faking it’, where he undertook a 4 week training to become a magician, even training with magic duo Penn and Teller in Las Vegas. He quit the PhD, and, hey presto! went on to become Quantum, and as he jokingly proclaimed to the audience, ‘the most famous magician-scientist hybrid in the world’. After sell out runs at the Fringe over the past few years, there’s a buzz around the premiere of his new show, Vanishing Point, in Edinburgh this year.

‘Vanishing Point’ is a magic show with a difference, precisely because of Kevin’s solid scientific background. The wow factor starts with an impressive life-size harmonic pendulum that he made himself.  Kevin has a kind, friendly and comedic presence which means the selected audience members are more than comfortable to get up on stage and join in with his dazzling array of tricks. With what seems to be a very strong theme in this year’s Fringe, the show is about the power of invisible forces. It’s also a wry and urgent comment on our attention spans, distraction techniques and what influences us to give up our power and time to the internet giants. Apt then, that he uses a well-read book about the Bermuda triangle for some of his mind-bending illusions.

I don’t want to give too much away and spoil the fun. My fourteen year old and I greatly enjoyed the hour, and we are still trying to figure out how he might have managed to dupe us with his clever variety of magic. It’s a fun, family-friendly show that feels like a special night out, in a comfortable hall with great acoustics. Expect some good old fashioned tricks with a twist and breathtakingly curious illusions, leading to a spectacularly nail-biting finale, which wowed the crowd. Go along and be prepared to be dazzled; the 2018 winner of Best Magic Show at the Adelaide Fringe might well

Lisa Williams


Rosie Sings! Facts About Love


Fingers Piano Bar
4th – 28th August (16.20)

After last night’s musical Hip-Hop adventure at Sketchy Beats it was 5am this Morning that my head hit the pillow. I was home by 2am, but couldnae stop writing. I awoke with sun streaming through my window, &  with a smile knowing that today Divine would have the opportunity to take in the mesmerising beauty of “Rosie Sings”. It was a beautiful Saturday as I strolled into town. The city was heaving with smiling faces, even the beggars were doing a roaring trade. Everyone was happy. The Sun did indeed have its hat on. So I hurried my pace coz I didnae want to miss my date to see Rosie perform. Its been a year since her beauty graced my life. Last year’s show was one of Divine’s 5 Star recommendations. So I was eager to see just how the show had matured.

I entered the venue to the songs of Duffy and Amy Winehouse. This put me in the mood immediately. I love them both and was happily singing along with my pint of water, with ice and lemon. Rosie walked on stage and my heart melted. Her blond ringlets complimenting her beautiful face, beautiful teeth and smile. Her lovely white and flowery dress and diamante Heels. Her beautiful singing voice. It is only when she speaks that the true Rosie comes to life. This girl loves sex, avoids alcoholics, but is ok with ketamine. A packed Fingers Cellar Bar, instantly warmed to Rosie’s enlightening comedy and genuinely hilarious tales.

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As I said earlier, Rosie is gorgeous in a classic 1950’s kind of way. As a singer, she is easily on par with Duffy and Amy Winehouse, which was perfectly complimented by the brilliance of her pianist and musical director, Doug Price. This Bbby really makes the Piano sing, complimenting Rosie’s vocal range, reproducing classics in a very satisfying way indeed. Behind the mask of every clown, there is a genius. Rosie’s genius is her singing voice, everyone was thrilled by this. The unique and classy bit was her song, sung in about twenty different languages. It is the International Fringe, so there is a bit in this show for Fringers of every nationality. Rosie has a big heart and wants to include everyone.

Its also part of The Free Fringe, so there is nothing to lose apart from an hour to the talents of Rosie. As I left the venue, I got all tongue tied and blushed like a schoolboy. Thanked her for the performance and tripped on a step, falling flat on my face. It was just like that sketch from Only Fools And Horses, where Dell is getting the come on from two ladies in the bar, he leans on the bar and its been lifted up by the bartender while Del Boy wasnae looking and falls flat on the floor. I was too embarrassed to continue our conversation. Oh well, I know that with Rosie’s talent and seeing as she is a local now I am pretty sure I will Hear her amazing voice again soon.

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert


Djuki Mala


Assembly Theatre
6-26 August (16:10)

Djuki Mala are back to delight the Edinburgh Fringe after last year’s rave reception. This lively troupe of Aboriginal Australia dancers who hit the international spotlight with a viral video are now in their 11th year of touring. They come from remote Elcho Island in Arnhem Land in the north of Australia, and they are keen to share the story of their community and culture with the world. They asked us right from the beginning to clap and stomp as much as possible, to give them the energy to give their utmost. Sometime cultural performances to unfamiliar audiences that have no context can be problematic. However, the performances are interspersed between firstly an honest snapshot of the tragic history of how Aboriginal people have been treated in the past 200 years, after 60,000 years of a unbroken cultural lineage and then personal narratives from members of the community. It gives the audience a real appreciation of the importance of dance as not just to express hope and joy, but a vital means of survival, cultural expression and connection to the land.

To trance-inducing beats, the dancers mesmerised the audience with a homage to their ancestors, as they danced adorned in traditional paint. Rhythmic chanting accompanied energetic dancing as elder Margaret tells the story of how Djuki Mala came to be. Joyful and slightly cheesy hip hop poses to lively Greek music brings us to their original viral dance and the personal story of its origin. Joseph Bond, the producer, explains that their tour in itself is a political comment on cultural appropriation. So when the group bust out some Bollywood moves in gold turbans and matching shorts, with the Edinburgh audience considered, it begins to mess with our understanding of where the lines of cultural appropriation now fall. The backdrop of the narrative explaining Yolngu culture means that the experience can jump from a very sad, serious story straight to a hilarious spoof of Singing in the Rain in shorts and brightly coloured umbrellas, complete with cheeky expressions, winks and flirtatious waves.

The international influences sit firmly on a bedrock of traditional culture that they have fought supremely hard to keep since white colonisers first came to their island in the 1930’s. The reminders of the importance of knowing one’s culture grounds the whole performance, freeing the dancers to then bring on the humour to bring pure unbridled joy to the audience. They explained that comedy is a natural part of the culture, and even initiation ceremonies would include comedic impressions of animals like crocodiles. The rest of the show is a fun, spirited, personal take on a range of dances from Black American culture, from funk, Motown soul, hip-hop and Michael Jackson. All of their dance training has been the traditional community way, learning directly from the elders from childhood. They are exuberant, energetic and joyful. They stump up 100% of the funding for their tour, so do go and support them if you want to pick an uplifting and unusual experience during the Fringe.

Lisa Williams


Aaron Calvert: Declassified

The Gilded Balloon At The Museum
Until the 28th August

Being a Calvert myself and I know how trust worthy and brilliant Calverts are, so jumped at the opportunity to review my long lost relative. The French translation of the word ‘Calvert’ translates as bridge between worlds. I’m pretty sure all Calverts are psychic, like myself. All seeing, All-Knowing. That’s Divine. So its just about impossible for a stage psychic to be a charlatan and me not know immediately. My previous experience of stage hypnosis was old school, and went overboard on making fools of people while under the influence. It is for that reason that I’m not usually interested. Aaron Calverts’ credentials are golden, however, so knew this show was off on a winner before I got there. Well, I am a Clairvoyant.

We took our seats in the venue, it was very comfortable and I was sat next to my new friend Angela. The Auditorium was filling rapidly with a growing excitement, audience members around me were recounting memories, excitedly speaking of those previously experienced miracles performed by Aaron at last year’s sell-out fringe Show. Divine was in a very tranquil space within; prior to the show I had meditated with the Falun Gong guys on Middle Meadow Walk. So I was in just the right space to be receptive to this highly original example of performance art. There wa sa problem, though, for being such a sensitive I am extremely susceptible to hypnosis and go under very easily. I knew I couldn’t be hypnotized and review the show at the same time. It was a tricky one. but managed to assert my free will enough to keep completely conscious for the jaw-dropping miracles that were to follow.

Witness examples of the potential of the subconscious mind, or indeed as Aaron described, the Superconscious. It was a mesmerising hour, with the whole audience in participation; a very interesting and enlightening experience. Genuinely Psychic with brilliantly simple examples of telepathy. During one of the exercises, a distinct spiritual shift took place. It was at this point I knew Aaron was a Medium too, because the last time this had happened was when I went to see the psychic barber, Gorden Smith, at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. So many moments of genuine supernatural human power brought out through Aaron’s gifted Hypnosis.

The crescendo of this magical hour was turning an audience member into a Qui Gong Master, with the audience member shattering a glass with his inner power. Now this was just unmistakably brilliant. I’m not going to go too far into what else happened because I think it will spoil it for others, but yes, it is easy to understand how Aaron is fast becoming a Legend within his field. He is unmistakably genuine, very gifted and a very very nice man. Of course he is. He’s a Calvert. This is a 5 Star Performance and one of the finest examples Of stage hypnosis I have ever experienced. Genuine Magik is seldom displayed with such expertise. I cannae recommend this hour enough. Awesome Stuff. 5 Stars.

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert


An Interview with Constant Vigier

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The Fringe is here, & so are the dancers; among whom are are Constant Vigier’s delicate angels…

Hello Constant, so where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Constant: I am French, born in Brittany and grew up next to Paris. I now live in Glasgow.

When did you first develop a passion for dance?
Constant: When my family moved in the suburbs of Paris I registered at the Conservatoire for music. As I was looking for gymnastics classes I realised the Conservatoire also offered ballet classes. So I started ballet quite randomly and grew fond of it very quickly as I loved the relation movement/music.

Can you tell us about your training?
Constant: I started in Rueil-Malmaison Conservatoire before joining Paris Opera Ballet School where I graduated. I added on that more training in Hamburg where I also worked with the Hamburg Ballet John Neumeier for a year. Following that I worked 6 months at Tivoli Pantomime Theatre in Copenhagen and then I started working with Scottish Ballet where I have been for five years now.

What are the key ingredients to your style?
Constant: My style is in the category “neo-classical”. The ladies are usually on pointed shoes yet I also like to have grounded steps with flex feet and parallel positions. The upper body is also important in my style and can be more challenged than the legs. I really enjoy using different levels and dynamics that are often set on how I feel the music I work with.

What are the personal highlights of your repertoire?
Constant: As a dancer I had the chance to perform very classical pieces and very modern ones too. My favourite pieces to dance were from Christopher Hampson (The Rite of Spring), Crystal Pite (Emergence), Angelin Preljocaj (MC 14/22), John Neumeier (Nijinsky) and Uri Ivgi and Johan Greben (Each Other).

You’ve got three famous dancers from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Constant: I would invite Violette Verdy, Sylvie Guillem and Vaslav Nijinsky.
Starter : beetroot hummus, mozzarella burrata, olive oil and bread.
Main : pan fried leeks and scallops.
Dessert : Tiramisu.
But this menu will soon disappear from my diet as I am keen on helping save the planet and become a vegan.

You are bringing a show to Edinburgh this year, can you tell us about it?
Constant: The main inspiration of the piece is Heloïse Letissier, also known as Christine and the Queens. Her music but also the story of her life is a the centre of the show. The struggle you go through when you don’t fit the usual labels society wants to give people. She is a feminist who also fights for LGBT+ rights. I also questioned myself whether “feminist” could sometimes be more a weight than a power. But I wish everyone felt great in their own skin to be able to be whoever they’d want to be, as long as respect for others is there. The piece finishes on an optimistic note though.

Who are your dancers & where are they from?
Constant: There are multiple casts but most of the dancers are from the UK. Some of them are at the Conservatoire of Scotland, others are from Scottish Ballet.
Daisy Mullen-Thompson, Jessica Neilson, Nicola Scholefied, Kira Ewing, Lisa Elston, Meryem Segun, Sophie Martin (the only non-UK member, from France), Roseanna Leney and Grace Paulley.

What compelled you to handle the fight for female equality?
Constant: I think equality alone should be there for everyone from day one on this planet. Obviously it’s not a fact and I don’t think life is fair. But as human beings, I really hope our thinking will help us level up differences between us.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in an Edinburgh street, what would you say?
Constant: Hi! Would you like to see a 30min dance piece? 3 ladies fighting to find their own place in society. Music by Christine and the Queens and Perfume Genius! It moves, it’s fun and it is related to society today!


French Institute – Salle Emilienne Moreau-Evrard

Aug 4-5, 7-14, 16-27 (times vary)



An Interview with Monica Salvi


Three years ago Monica Salvi stunned the Fringe with her Mad Women in My Attic… & we at the Mumble are delighted to discover she’s coming back to Edinburgh with a new version of her magical show…

Hello Monica, so where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Monica: I’m originally from Milan, Italy, but I’ve been a London resident for the past 12 years.

When did you first develop a love of music?
Monica: Strange as it may sound, I was a hardcore heavy metal fan up until I was 16… Then just like that, I switched to a deep love for musical theatre! But until I was 18 years old, I had never considered the possibility of being a performer. I was shy, had never sung a single note in my life, and the only school play I’d done, I hated it so much, that I faked fainting just to be sent home before the start of the performance. Then, my personality, taste, and ultimately life, completely changed thanks to two musicals.  The Rocky Horror Show, which helped me connect to that inner part of me that actually wanted to be on a stage and wanted to be looked at and heard and acknowledged. And the Phantom of the Opera, which helped me to find my voice. At 19, only by singing along the CD, in my room, over and over again, I discovered that I could actually sing… and that I was a soprano!

Where did you train as an actress?
Monica: After the discoveries in the previous answer, I trained for three years in Italy at the Bernstein School of Musical Theatre, in Bologna, which had a great international flavour and style, as its founder is Canadian, and some teachers were American, British… Then, after the diploma, and to pursue my dream of doing musical theatre in London, I got a place on the Royal Academy of Music Postgraduate Musical Theatre Course (I know, it’s a mouthful!). I loved every second of it!

What does Monica Salvi like to do when she’s not performing?
Monica: I love to travel the world, and I’m able to do that a lot and afford it, thanks to the home exchange system. I go to people’s homes while they come to mine. This way, I’ve been in some gorgeous houses for free, in the Canaries, in New York, Canada, all around Europe.. I am also a gong practitioner and sound therapist. I have very big gongs and other therapeutic and shamanic instruments, and I play them while my clients lie on a mat. The powerful sound of the gongs reach deep into people’s souls like no other instrument, and the vibrations are deeply healing on a mental, physical and emotional level. The frequencies of these instruments, and the soundscape of harmonics they create, wash over the subconscious of the client and create a multi-sensorial experience, that can be described as a massage of sound, and it puts the brain into a semi-trance meditative state. It’s a one of a kind experience with many beneficial effects which leaves people pretty in awe, afterwards.


This year you are bringing MAD WOMEN IN MY ATTIC! back to the Fringe, can you tell us about it?
Monica: I took the show to the festival three years ago, when it had some great feedback from both critics and audiences. But, being a perfectionist, I am always trying to improve the show, the script, my performance… Over the past three years, I think it has changed a lot, because I have changed a lot, and also because I occasionally discover new great songs to add to it. I love the Fringe, and I’ve been coming every year for the past 5 years, either as a performer or as a visitor. I thought my updated version of Mad Women in my Attic! deserved a chance to be seen again, and here I am!

Having acclaimed performances in London and the United Solo Festival in New York, having your official off-Broadway debut, winning Best Cabaret Award at the festival with Mad Women In My Attic. Has this level of success emboldened the forthcoming Fringe Performances?
Monica: If I have to be honest, no, it’s unrelated. I’ve always wanted to take the new version of the show back to Ed Fringe, but this is the first year I could afford it! If it was not so expensive I would do this festival every year. It also takes quite a lot of time and energy, which is something not many people are aware of. I’m a self produced performer, and I do everything by myself. Of course I act and sing in the show, but that is a holiday compared to everything else that goes into producing a run at the festival (especially if you are after a certain standard of quality). Since I don’t have an unlimited budget, I do my own PR, I am my own promoter, I take care of marketing and social media, I design all my posters and flyers, research and sometimes make or commission the props and costumes, look for the accommodation for everyone on my team (pianist and stage manager), deal with the venues and the fringe office, and once I’m in Edinburgh I perform not just my own show, but also various slots in other people’s compilation shows. All this requires a huge amount of energy and dedication, which takes up 3/4 of the year (if you are serious about the fringe, you usually start pre-production in January). I do not have the energy and money to do it every year, just every few years! So, catch it while you can!

The subject matter of your work, couldn’t be any more challenging and unique. How much of your work as a sound therapist has informed the writing of the script?
Monica: None, as I wrote my script a few years before I trained as a sound therapist (or even knew what that was).  It’s my acting career which inspired the theme and script of Mad Women in my Attic!.  You know how some people are typecast as the heroine, the mother, the ingenue, the villain.. Well, I was always typecast as a mad woman, or a quirky eccentric character. By studying and preparing for these characters, I started to find common points between me and them, and I figured out that the typical mad character in a story, is just a heightened version of psychological issues that we all have deep within. I started to collect songs about mad women, or with any relation to psychology and psychotherapy, not just from the musical theatre repertoire. Some of these songs are hilarious, like “I need a Stalker”, “The Ballad of Group Therapy”, others are pretty intense and dark, like “Sirens”, “Mam’selle Syphilis”. I also have some well known musical theatre mad women, but I won’t give any spoilers!

When we first saw you perform this show, it was in the Gothic Splendour of St. John’s Episcopal Church on Princes Street, which in my opinion was the perfect venue. This year you have chosen a 15th Century Free Masons Chapel in Riddles court on The Royal Mile. Again a place of mystery and worship. Is this coincidental or is it part of the plan?
Monica: You mean my plan to conquer the world? Mwahahahahaha (evil laughter).
I think it is a coincidence, though it’s never just that is it? I have always been hugely attracted to old ancient buildings, and gothic architecture. The whole of Edinburgh is a treasure trove to me. The choice of the gorgeous St. John’s church, three years ago, happened because I was looking for a venue with a grand piano, and with lots of “nooks” where I could hide during the show, for the costume changes (i.e. the pulpit!). The church was a fantastic space to play in, but it was a bit too light and spacious, and in the end this is a sultry cabaret with a dark theme, despite the comedy moments. So this year I decided to look for a typical black box type of theatre, but I also wanted it to be really central, and in a venue with a nice atmosphere. I had stumbled upon the beautiful Riddle’s Court three years ago, and it immediately intrigued me as it seemed I had entered another dimension.. Outside on the Royal Mile, the madness of the fringe, a few steps inside, peace, silence and no people. I took pictures of it and left. Then, a few months ago, I read that Riddle’s Court would be used as a new venue this year, and that they would build three different theatre spaces in it. I applied, and got the largest space, a 100 seater black box theatre, PQA One.

Are there plans for an album release of your recorded work, featuring songs from the show? (If so we would love a copy)
Monica: No, though I would consider it, if someone offered to produce it, market and distribute it. Having said that, this show is so visual, so “in the moment”, that I feel it would lose a bit of charm as a recorded album.

Are there plans to offer Gong therapy sessions after each performance?
Monica: You know, I had thought about that, but the problem is that the gong set is very heavy and it would be a huge expense to transport it to Edinburgh, also I wouldn’t be able to really carry them around by myself. I already have a heavy suitcase of props and costumes, and honestly I don’t even have space for normal clothes! But of course, who needs those, at the Fringe!

What does the rest of 2018 have in store for Monica Salvi?
Monica: Lots of travelling! Can’t wait to get back to my roamings and adventures, after all the production admin I’ve done in the past few months. And hopefully a few industry people who I invited to see the show, will pick it up and I will be able to do it again!

Mad Women in My Attic!

PQA Venues @ Riddle’s Court

Aug 3-5, 7-12, 14-19, 21-27 (19.10)


An Interview with Ben Dali


Ben Dali is back at the Fringe, & each year he just gets better & better. The Mumble managed a wee blether with the boy wonder

Hello Ben, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Ben: I’m from North London 11 months of the year and Edinburgh the other twelfth.

When did you first realise you were, well, magical?
Ben: My grandpa used to show me magic tricks when I was a kid but it was shortly after uni I realised I was special – that I could really work out how people were thinking and what tactics they were computing, then exploit that for magical purposes. A few years later I discovered I could influence behaviour as well as predict it and things snowballed from there.

How did you get into performing your mystical skills live?
Ben: Working as an entertainer in the tourism industry carries a lot of public relations duty so I did vast amounts of close-up magic and mind reading then. After a few years with ample stage experience I learnt hypnosis and put a show together then started driving around entertainment venues, phoning and emailing social clubs and pubs to put my show on and taking any performance opportunities I could find to hone my craft.

What are the key ingredients to your magical style?
Ben: Hypnosis and Mind Reading can only work if you have a deep understanding of behavioural psychology and individual differences – how people think, adapt, and act in the specific environment you create at the exact time they find themselves in it. On top of that you need to be able to deliver your material so that the participants and audience are engaged and enthralled throughout. So I’ve crafted a unique stage persona in which I’m basically running two shows simultaneously – one for the volunteers and one for the unhypnotised audience. I try to be as entertaining, funny, educational and charismatic as possible to give as many people as possible some personal memories.

This will be your 4th Fringe. How have you evolved as a performer in that time?
Ben: Well my work ethic and place within the Fringe have certainly evolved over the years. My first time round in 2015 I didn’t know anyone, and was blagging my way through the month. My show was great but I’d been touring and adapting it for 4 years and nobody in Edinburgh had seen it before, but apart from that I was just taking on 100+ guest spots and trying to meet people. After that I started running my own cabaret shows, getting to know the cabaret and comedy scenes pretty well, working on new material and solidifying my place as the festival’s go-to hypnotist for the generation. I’ve also learnt to manage my time better and not burn out during the run. This year I’m even taking 2 days off which is a first!

What have you got for us this year?
Ben: So Trance Of A Lifetime is all new, with some exciting new sketches exclusive for Edinburgh, including tragedy on the Antique’s Roadshow, simulated nudity and the world’s first 5D cinema experience. As always nobody is picked on but invited to volunteer from the audience, and given happiness and confidence boosts to help them enjoy the rest of the festival. It’s going to be quite the extravaganza, with the biggest change being my timeslot – up til now it’s been 13:30 but now at 22:00 I can do more adult things that wouldn’t have worked before (but still no humiliation). With my variety show the Not So Secret Society we’re also in a new timezone at 18:30 so this is family friendly, all suitable for 8+ audiences with some really huge names across the festival which can be viewed on There’s a couple of special adult one-offs for people who miss the ol’ burlesque and x-rated comedy sets of years gone by.


What does Ben Dali like to do when he’s not being, well, magical?

Ben: In general I’m also a pub quizmaster, and have spent the last year working as a teaching assistant in a year 3 class in North London primary school ahead of September when I start training to teach my own class for next year. While teacher training won’t leave me with much free time, I love appearing on TV game shows (most notably Countdown, The Chase and Take Me Out), movies, music and catching live comedy and cabaret.

You’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Ben: Well we’d have to start with Franz Mesmer the Austrian inventor of hypnosis as an artform. I’d love to find out how he realised he had his powers without having 2 centuries of inspiration before him like I did, and how he harnessed those powers for the purpose of entertainment. Then I’d like to show him how things have evolved since the 1770s. Alfred Hitchcock would need to be there, he’s a massive hero and influence – not just the quality of his films but the methods he used to create suspense and climaxes which I always think about carefully when designing new skits, trying to use the peaks and troughs in my pieces like a Hitch film. Finally my greatest hero of all time and the biggest influence on my public persona in the early years of performance was Richard Whiteley. I watched him constantly as a child then met him when I appeared on Countdown at 19. He was a beautiful man who mastered his craft as best befitted his personality and capabilities, was universally lovable and controlled that studio like it was his own living room in which his contestants, audience and viewers at home were utterly welcome. He seemed to genuinely like me in our short time together and I’ve often channeled my inner Richard while hosting gameshows and stepping on stage. For food, I don’t want to spend a moment away from my guests so we’d Uber in some gourmet Pot Noodles.

You know a good show when its happened, what are the special ingredients?
Ben: For a hypnosis show the key element in a good show is good volunteers. With most live entertainment there’s a strong correlation between the quality of the performer and quality of the audience, feeding off each other’s energy and propelling the show along. With hypnosis – sure, I can have a good day or bad day, the audience can be good or bad but everything pivots on how good the best subjects are at interpreting my suggestions. A show with 2 great volunteers and an audience who aren’t that into it with me on a rare day underperforming is still more special than a show with 5-10 volunteers who achieve mild trance and aren’t responsive even if the audience is enthusiastic and I’m at the top of my game. Of course, if all 3 of us are on form then that presents the kind of show that people will hold dear as their most memorable Edinburgh Fringe moment and that’s what I’m trying to achieve – so that when the punters tell their friends, family and colleagues what they did over summer, they’re telling people about my show. Trance Of A Lifetime does what it says on the tin.

At the 2016 Fringe you started running your own cabaret night, the Not So Secret Society, which has grown from strength to strength in both Edinburgh & London. Can you tell us about the idea?
Ben: Sure thing Mumble. So the Not So Secret Society was set up a few years ago in Glasgow by my producer Frodo Allan, who also ran the legendary Bongo Club Cabaret that introduced the concept of the variety show to Edinburgh. We started working together in 2016 and I was running another variety show, so he asked if I’d like to open a London branch of Not So Secret running monthly year round, which I did. When Ed17 rolled around we brought in a NSSS branch, and I scouted out some top acts from across the festival. I’ve done another year of the London shows and pulled in some really big names, so our database of acts is getting quite spectacular and that really shows in our lineups for this year.

Who have you got for us this year?
Ben: There’ll be about 80 different performers putting in appearances this summer and every one of them is immensely talented. The biggest names we’ve got are Rory Bremner and Jan Ravens, Stuart Goldsmith, Grammy winner Lady Rizo, Sweden’s Got Talent winner and Edinburgh’s undisputed best magician Charlie Caper, Best Newcomer 2017 Natalie Palamides, Carl Donnelly, Carey Marx, Mark Thompson – we’ve got performers from all the big name venues, sellout acts, and every show is different. Check out our full list of acts on


You’ve got 20 seconds to sell both shows to somebody in the street, what would you say?
Ben: Well I wouldn’t promote both shows in the same 20 second pitch, but… “Free hypnosis show! Trance Of A Lifetime!” Come to the festival’s funniest, most unpredictable and unforgettable show. Come on stage and get hypnotised or enjoy the show from the audience as you prefer.” For Not So Secret the promotion methods would depend entirely on the day’s lineup.

Using my own mind-reading powers, I do believe this might be your last Fringe for a while, whats the angle?
Ben: Yep, my last one. You’re a very impressive mind-reader. Or simply ‘reader’. I want people who have thought over the last few years ‘I’ll see him next year’ to know that there isn’t going to be a ‘next year’ again. And for those who have seen me before to come pay tribute to the past by witnessing my 21 swan songs. And for people who haven’t heard of me before to bask in the fact that they discovered me just in time. And to lead a more nocturnal existence for once now I don’t need to be flyering in the mornings, enjoy the night time cabaret scene a bit.

Well good luck with that Ben, & thanks for chatting. One last question, can you describe the experience of performing at the Fringe in a single sentence?
Ben: Thanks for having me Mr Mumble, it’s been a pleasure. Performing at the Fringe is the ultimate journey of self-discovery – when you’re pushed to the limits in the most competitive environment any performer can find themselves you get to know your strengths and weaknesses and work ethic and just how much you’re prepared to put in to achieve the best you can.

Trance of a Lifetime

Liquid Room Annexe

Aug 4-13, 15-21, 23-26: (22:00)


An Interview with Rosie Sings


It is a rare gift indeed to be funny AND sing like an angel. The Mumble were honored, then, to catch a wee blether with Rosie Houlton…

Hello Rosie, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?

Rosie: Hello Mumble, well I was born in the city which lacks all culture – Milton Keynes! I now live in the city where culture thrives – EDINBURGH!

When did you first realise you could sing really well?
Rosie: When someone told me they thought I could and then I asked someone to teach me how to try and do it well.

Which singers inspire you?
Rosie: Oh SO many singers are inspirational and I am constantly learning! However the artists I’m listening to at the moment would mainly be Morgan James, Shoshana Bean and Anne Marie.


When did you first develop a passion for performing?
Rosie: Being born a Princess I’m no stranger to performance. I grew up touring the UK with my Dad in the circus and I often got asked to help with his act which I found fun and got to have a small taste of ‘showing off’. It wasn’t until I started Rosie Sings where I found the passion because I can just express who I want to be in the ways I want. It’s more of a true and honest passion.

You’re washed up on a desert island with an all-in-one solar powered DVD/TV combo & three films, what would they be?
Rosie: Three movies to pick me up if I was ever to be bored of the sea and sand would be – From Up on Poppy Hill, Moulin Rouge and Batman Begins.

Last year you were performing at the Fringe. How did it go?
Rosie: Last year was my first show at the fringe however a lady from the audience after one of my shows did came up to me and say ‘I come to see you every year – but this year you were the best you’ve ever been’… so I’m going to go with what she said and say – I was the best I’d been!

What have you got for us this year?
Rosie: This year the show is about all the men from my love life… or as many as I can fit in within 60 minutes.

Your show is quite a mish-mash of styles, just what exactly ARE you?
Rosie: … I’m me Bitch … I love everything from Old School Garage to Whitney.

How much of Rosie Houlton the person is there in Rosie Houlton, the performer?
Rosie: All of the stories in my shows are factual. How I perform them and the confidence I have on stage is the Rosie I inspire to be in my day to day life… but usually I just spend my time eating oreo cookies while I bathe.


Can you tell us about your band?
Rosie: The band well … the band are what bring my show to life and add the unique character and sometimes aroma most boys bring along with them. I’ve been a very lucky Princess indeed as I’ve had a wonderful time working with different musicians throughout the year which has helped adapt the show creatively. The arrangements for the show have mostly been worked on with my Fairy Godmother Neil Metcalfe, if you live in Edinburgh and work as a musician you will know or want to know Neil, he is a genius and I wouldn’t have a show at all without him. During August I’ll have the wonderful Doug Price flying over from Canada to take on the role of Musical Director for the Fringe. Doug and I worked together last year and it will be so much fun to have him back by my side to see what we can get up to this time! I’ve also worked with Linda Stewart who stepped in on keys Sunday 1st July who has been working with the musical Wicked and touring the world on cruises. But the boys who make me smile and often wet in my pants are the very tall, sexy Scottish duo you got to see me perform with recently – Damien Quinn and Callum Morrison. We will be seeing more of them alongside Rosie Sings in the future but for now my lips are sealed!

How do you select the songs for your show?
Rosie: The songs I select can be for a number of reasons. Most importantly I have to like the songs I’m using and make sure that they have relevance to my story. Sometimes the song comes first because it reminds me of a story and other times I have a story and have to find a song to go along with it.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the street, what would you say?
Rosie: I’m the voice of an angel with the mouth of a sailor. I will sing some of the greatest love songs to compliment the stories of my turbulent yet fruitful love life… and I just discovered Gin, which has nothing to do with me turning 30.


How will you know & feel when you have just given a good performance?
Rosie: From how it effects my audience. I’m always pushing myself out of my comfort zone and encouraging others around me to face their fears. With this show being specifically about the trials and errors of my Love life, I’ve already found in my previews it is connecting with some people who can relate to a mutual experience. The show is to entertain through being honest about who I am. I’ve made some mistakes and I’ve learnt some things and when an audience member connects with that and tells me afterwards, I find that really rewarding.

Can you describe the experience of performing at the Fringe in a single sentence?
Rosie: Last year I caught a photographer taking photos of me and so I stopped to smile at him, he said, ‘No don’t stop, I’m just here to capture your struggle.’

What will you be doing after the Fringe?
Rosie: I’ll be getting on the next plane to the hottest place where I will stay until someone pays for me to come home … and eat cheese.

Rosie Sings Facts About Love

Fingers Piano Bar

Aug 4-26: (16:20)