Alice in Wasteland

Studio 24
August 26th

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Stagecraft : five-stars Performance : five-stars Gasps : three-stars

The excitement was rising as people queued for the final Alice in Wasteland performance and closing show after party; a lycra clad gentleman provided a wee warm up gig on the street, demonstrating his leather whip skills.  Soon enough we were ushered in to the industrial unit, home to Edinburgh’s back alley club venue, Studio 24, walking past performers operating a smoke circle machine and welcoming us down the rabbit hole.  The performance is marketed as a 2 hour show, however part of that involves easing the audience into the upside down world of Alice in Wasteland, buying a drink at the bar while enjoying some good drum and bass, appreciating the post-Wonderland dystopia stage set and participating in a pre-show game of pass the bin bag!  There was an eclectic mix of people in the audience and many had gone to special efforts to dress-up for the occasion, easily passing as one of the performers.

6d9ad8_72f3c2d260124c36a89d44fd2cf26785.jpgPresented by Pyratrix Circus, Alice in Wasteland is a musical circus bonanza!  They have wealth of exceptional dancers, live musicians, aerialist, clowns, acrobats, singers and rappers.  In a contemporary twist on the classic Lewis Carroll tale, Alice, a bored businesswoman ruled by consumerism and materialism ingests some strange substances and gets taken to another dimension of the weird and wonderful!  Utilising the traditional sequence of events in the tale of Alice in Wonderland, the performance explores societies relationship with waste and the environmental issues of today’s world and promote a radical social change.  This original tale creates a deeper message about our own wasteland we have produced with our urban sprawl.  How we waste time on consumerism, gluttony and materialism rather than acting on creating a collective change.  Images of poverty, war, consumerist culture, politicians, psychedelic graphics and the performing characters flash across two large screens either side of the stage.

Our senses are truly spoilt by the multi-media theatre experience.  The detail and creativity in the colourful surreal stage and strobe lights dancing around the set is hypnotising.  The cabaret / party circus style tricks are supported by live instrumentation and an electrical soundtrack composed by the cast themselves.  The creative costumes are far from average, each highly unique and an art form in themselves.  The Queen of Hearts costume is especially intricate.  The queen of buying, materialism and submission into obeying, consuming more and thinking less, had a part of a shopping trolley to attach the rear of her bustle dress.  The sinister looking Madhatter, a ‘rich’ man of experience, laughter and love, states “Quality of life is not measured on how much we consume”.  To which the queen replies, “Off with is head!”  Tweedledum and Tweedledee performed by two sisters with long blonde hair in skin tight lycra suits dance, tap and sing their way through the dream-like experience.  The white rabbit sports white brogues as ears and the beatboxing caterpillar lives in a wheelie bin.  The narrative spliced between circus arts can be a bit confusing in parts, however visually this production is very stimulating and surreal.  Nothing is quite as it seems at Alice in Wasteland and you will ask yourself “Have I gone mad?” and well, “I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”13346814_1101787709860396_4818530347827381146_n.jpg

Being the last performing night the madness carried on until the small hours, 5am. The closing show party saw performances from the performing cast Katch Pyro, My Bad Sister, Pauly Piper, Doghouse, Burdy and The Girobabies rounding off an exceptionally marvelous experience.  Pyratrix Circus was only performing at the Edinburgh Fringe for 4 days, however hopefully they will return next year.  They are ones to look out for!

Reviewer : Sarah Lewis
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The Raunch

The Lafayette Spiegeltent

Underbelly Circus Hub

Run Complete

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Stagecraft : five-stars Performance : five-stars Gasps : 4.png

 Yeehaa! The Wild West has rode into town on hoverboards. The Raunch is a self-proclaimed punk, panto, cabaret, circus, western pastiche on acid, and it does not fail to deliver. This is no ordinary cowboy themed cabaret show, it’s sexy and bad ass with some outrageous surprises. Definitely not a show for the kids, prudish or faint-hearted. The Raunch has all the usual hallmarks of a classic cabaret act, but this dynamic cast certainly takes it to new heights, all to the tune of a toe-tapping, leg-slapping, hair-flapping sound track. This show is high energy, with perfectly choreographed dance routines, audience participation, tongue-and-cheek humour as each cast member bringing their own personality to their character. There is never a tumbleweed moment with the magnificent seven-strong cast, brought larger-to-life by their outlandish costumes, creative visual backdrops and lighting.

Bringing a contemporary London twist to proceedings were the magnetic My Bad Sister twins as the Bar Room Beauties… This tap dancing, rapping, knife throwing, ukulele playing duo captivated the audience with their hypnotic synchronicity. International burlesque femme fatale Missa Blue as The Outlaw is the all dancing, leather clad, fire-eating, fearless sword-swallower… tipping us to the edge of our seats is circus superstar Jair Ramirez as The Bandit – mesmerizing the audience with his acrobatics, the man has amazing strength, balance and precision as he performs jaw dropping aerial contortion… competing in no ordinary dual are the villains of the show, The Bad Sheriff, played by legendary cabaret performer Empress Stah and Alternative Miss World Fancy Chance as The Condemned. A nipple tassel duel to the death was not what the audience were expecting but was certainly well received.

Narrator Mr Ted’s The Unwanted keeps us entertained throughout, bringing an element of goofy daft humour with his lip-synching, drag ventriloquism. A nice, personal touch was to find the cast outside meeting and greeting the audience as we left. A whip cracking, boot stomping show that leaves you dancing up the street, do not miss the opportunity to see this show when you get the chance, we loved it!!!!!!!

Reviewers : Laura & Ema Murray

5

Closer by Circa

3rd – 29th Aug 2016
Udderbelly, George Square
From £17.50

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Stagecraft : 4.png Performance : five-stars Gasps : five-stars

Circa’s award winning circus art, directed by Yaron Lifschitz, returns to the Edinburgh Fringe with ‘Closer’ to push the boundaries of physical ability and amalgamate movement, theatre, dance and circus.  Circa have been at the forefront of contemporary circus since 2004, creating influential performances that thrills, delights and captivates worldwide audiences.  The famous upside down purple cow, Udderbelly, commissions this sequel showcase as per last years ‘Close Up’.

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Australian circus company Circa’s latest production, is not about the thrills and glitz of cabaret circus, instead the four stunning, talented and versatile performers have paired it back, dressed in black on a bare stage.  Inviting the audience to get Closer and watch intently as they masterfully perform a series of energetic, body-contorting, gravity-defying skills within this ‘intimate setting’.  The acts have an almost delicate, silent-movie feel.  There is comedy, as well as finesse and charm.  The quartet push the extremes and limitations of the human body, in ways not known possible, leaving your heart in your throat!  Circa’s distinctive selling point is that they combine breath-taking acrobatics and aerial circus spectacles with beautiful contemporary dance.

During Lauren Herley’s fast-pace vertical rope performance, she energetically spins, flips, whips and literally walks up the rope then drops down as the audience gasps with fright!  The pounding dynamic soundtrack complements the vibrant performance. Lisa Goldsworthy (who has a striking similarity to The Fifth Element’s, Milla Jovovich) flawlessly flaunts her impressive and amusing trapeze skills.  London newcomer Jarred Dewey joins Goldsworthy for a trapeze duet; as their bodies melt effortlessly into outstanding contorted poses.  Dewey’s solo trapeze-hanging mime act to Oasis’s Champagne Supernova demonstrates his muscular agility and strength while blending clowning and circus.  The troupe performs a run of inventive group balance displays, each exceeding the last.  Using their signature square framed chairs, the finale involves stacking the chairs into a tall tower; Daniel O’Brien performs a handstand on top with perfect precision.  The sold out audience applauds and roars loud with a standing ovation.  Overall Circa has produced another outstanding performance of human feat acrobatics and theatre performance superseding the rest. Overall 5 stars, bravo

Reviewer : Sarah Lewis

5

Silver Lining & Jacksons Lane

Circus Hub

4th – 22nd (not 15th) – 16.00

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Stagecraft : four-stars Performance : four-stars Gasps : three-stars

Take a stroll down to Udderbelly’s Circus Hub in The Meadows and you will find two big tops, The Beauty (250 seats) and The Lafaylette (750 seats).  The two venues are named after of the world’s most renowned circus performers and illusionists.  The Great Lafeayette and his dog, Beauty, who both famously died in Edinburgh in 1911.  It’s here within The Lafaylette you will be thrown back in time, reminiscing life’s moments of the seven strong circus troupe of Silver Lining & Jacksons Lane.  Directed by the acclaimed Paulette Randell we are thrown into the performers nostalgic personal memories that have shaped them into the characters they are today.  These open, sincere and engrossing stories are interwoven within the high energy, highly skilled circus acrobatic sequences throughout which makes this performance so unique.

The youthful team bring together circus, dance, theatre and live music into one feel-good captivating show.  It is hard not to be allured by their fresh personable attitude and passion.  From start to finish their interaction with the audience is friendly, playful and humorous. The show is packed-full of positive vibes. You cannot help feel they are a bunch of mates having a good time and we as an audience have made some fantastic new friends too!

The company members demonstrate a strong collaborative still-set, through both solo moments of individual talent and in the group displays of experimental stunts, balances, Chinese pole, aerial straps, hula hoop sequences and an thrilling finale of Chinese hoop diving.  The fast-paced show is an explosion of energy; we see a fantastic rendition a Dirty Dancing sequence, a human slide and a spinning take on Michael Jackson.  My personal highlight was a duo synchronised hand balance act, their ability to mirror one another was beautifully graceful.  They do have gasp factor moments where I heard the audience exclaim “brilliant” and “wow”, although few of the tricks are a little underwhelming and safe.  Silver Lining & Jacksons Lane are the friendliest circus troupe I’ve came across, constantly charming, highly engaging and occasionally poignant.  Expect lots of laughs, talented acrobatics and an upbeat performance that will leave you grinning from ear to ear.

Reviewer : Sarah Lewis
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Neil Henry – Mind-Wangler

Pleasance Ace Dome

12-14, 16-28 Aug 2016 (16.00)

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Stagecraft : four-stars Performance : four-stars Gasps : three-stars

Neil Henry is a Derren Brown meets Harry Hill type stage-man. Full of panache and witty banter, he is a real crowd pleaser and can build a connection with anyone he likes in an instant.  Neil focuses on mind manipulation techniques to pull of his tricks and although not quite as mysterious as Derren Brown, he certainly does manage pull them off, with a good few laughs along the way.

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Neil woos the crowd through his fun segments, only occasionally prompting for a cheer or giggle. He definitely made me laugh out loud, and his jokes were plenty varied between kiddie and adult humour – a nice ratio as well. Neil is a great family entertainer & the kids were being engaged with & included in the show from very early on. A couple of adults were gently roped in too, while Joshua the cat made all the decisions about who would be asked to take part. I can heartily recommend a trip to see Henry one afternoon this August, a fine perfromer with enough bedazzle to leave you glowing.

Reviewer : Bobbi McKenzie
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Ben Dali: Strictly Come Trancing Hypnosis Show

Liquid Room

Aug 6-28   (13:35)

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Stagecraft : four-stars Performance : four-stars Gasps : four-stars

Coming on to the sounds of the Flaming Lips’ ‘Are You a Hypnotist,’ I was asking myself the same question. Who was this youth ready to astound us with his keys to another dimension; or those secret, untapped pools latent in all our brains. In professional terms, Londoner Ben Dali is a baby, but his bright-eyed, fresh-skinned, paltry 31 years belie completely his absolute proficiency in the psuedo-science that is Hypnotism. Bringing his talents to an international audience for the second year in a row, his act takes place in one of the cavernous dance-halls of the Liquid Room, where after introducing himself & his art, before too long 12 volunteers are sat on chairs before us. Then the fun begins, a vibrant series of tricks that whittle the 12 down to 5 individuals who were, as the French say, ‘verteux.’ Dali told the Mumble there were 7 on the previous day’s performance – so lets say an average of half the volunteers each show come under his spell.

Like a Boddhisatva reciting some ancyent Tibetan mantra, Dali takes his volunteers & the audience on a journey – we travel to the Olympic Games, for example, & to a life-drawing class where the women shirk at his ‘naked’ body. Great stuff, & excellent quality for the Free Fringe. It felt real, even the skeptic inside me said so, & I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt because there was a certain astral look in the eyes of those who were under. Dali thinks of himself more like a game-show presenter & his humour is, well, not bad… but as Dali told the Mumble, ‘constantly your stage persona evolves,’ this can only get better with time. An intelligent & warm-peforming gentleman, one expects that in a decade or so – after he graduates from the Edinburgh School of Entertainment & Hypnosis – then Dali shall be as famous as his artistic namesake in his own, eternally peculiar field.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen

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The Hogwallops

Underbelly’s Circus Hub (Venue 360)

4th – 22nd August (not 10th, 15th) – 15:30pm

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Stagecraft : five-stars Performance : five-stars Gasps : Inline image 4

The Beauty at the Circus Hub was packed with adults and kids for the return of The Hogwallops, presented by the Lost in Translation Company. Roughly based on Roald Dahl’s ‘The Twits’, The Hogwallops slapstick circus troop of 5 performers held the full house audience enthralled for the hour performance. This fun family show combined a mix of aerial, balancing, juggling, audience participation, clown and circus skills all underpinned by the search for a banana (!), all held together with mischief and fun. The energy was a bit slow to build but all the tricks were performed with finesse and vigor and the show was very warmly received, with a few very enthusiastic fans in the front row that were weaved in to the story from time to time.

Unknown-1.jpegThe notable character in this production was the young man, who showed sweet vulnerability and skill with humour and comic timing. His scene featuring a self-help tape on how to woo a lady was particularly funny and ended with some very up close audience participation (in a very innocent way!) But be warned, if you sit in the front few rows you may be hugged at some point! Like with any Roald Dahl, the children laughed and laughed, quite at home with the slapstick aspects of the characters doing despicable things to one another. The concept of the piece is built around a dysfunctional family and it was quite impressive to see the simple things, like doing laundry, being turned into impressive aerial pieces.

The audience liked it a lot, the characters were professional, kindhearted and good at what they do. And although we felt the start of the show was a little under energized, the pace grew and we left with a warmer feeling about us. If you are looking for innocent, slapstick with genuinely awesome tricks plan a trip to Hogwallops, and take the family too! There are certainly lessons to be learnt on how to appreciate our family from The Hogwallops.

Reviewers: Ali Bell and Denise Borland

four-stars

Bedtime Stories

Underbelly’s Circus Hub (Venue 360)

12.30pm and 2.30pm

Aug 6-14, 16-22

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Stagecraft : five-stars Performance : five-stars Gasps : Inline image 4

This is a fabulous family show. I can’t wait to take my niece and I would recommend this to anyone with a wee person! This magical production brings together circus, theatre, dance and projections skilfully performed by Upswing addressing the not too unusual dynamics felt between daydreaming children and their overstretched parents. It was a daunting wait in the long queue outside the venue as I saw hoards of excited children waiting to see ‘Bedtime Stories’, along with me! I had fears of unsettled wee people losing their concentration after 5 minutes of sitting through a show. However, after stepping into the venue I felt transported into a tranquil and magical space. The simple set of a bed and a desk was encircled by beanbags, comfy beds, pillows and blankets (and a few rows of chairs for those who weren’t lucky enough to get a ‘bed’ for story time!

Bedtime_StoriesFlier-220x261.jpgThis was quite a sight to behold as calm, excited children of all ages looked around at lights and projections before the show started. It seemed the whole audience were ready for their pre-nap entertainment! The energy grew slowly as the two central characters (mum and daughter) built their individual presences with an impressive yet simple animation projected on a central pillar of screens. The audience was very engaged by this display and it had a fairly hypnotic effect on me as a watcher! This was followed by the first dialogue of the show – the story telling! The dialogue felt well written for the target audience of kids and had enough content to keep the adults involved. My only sticking point in the whole show was the lack of amplification during dialogues. Due to an air conditioning unit, there was a background hum that made hearing some of the dialogue and the singing a bit tricky but the performers adapted to this as the show progressed.

We were taken on an adventure through the imagination of a little girl searching for a connection back to her busy mum, involving impressive floor work and ribbon trapeze, which was simply breathtaking. A key relationship was fleshed out between the daughter and her imaginary friend ‘Three’. His character was beautifully engaging for the young audience and their rapport was touching and fun to watch.

The best way to review this show was from watching the faces of the young audience members, their concentration rarely wavered throughout this whole hour performance – the age range was new born to 10 years with the average child between 4 and 7. They laughed, engaged and were inspired by the movement. This was a scene to behold. This was not to be ignored after the show finished with many of them helping to clear up the space and then continuing to twirl and jump around the outside space of the Circus Hub, with a new physical awareness and sense of adventure, with many parents appearing engaged too in playing with them in this way. I feel the repercussions of seeing this show may be long lasting. A mesmerising adventure for children of ages!

Reviewer : Ali Bell

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Perhaps Hope

Underbelly Circus Hub
August 7-22
 17:30 (1hr)
£15
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Stagecraft: Inline image 2     Performance:   Inline image 3  Gasps: Inline image 4
Perhaps Hope is staged in a proper circus tent in a lovely setting on the Meadows. The stage is minimalistic and post-industrial which reflects the tone of the entire performance. Rocky Stone and Vincent Van Berkel are two incredibly strong and versatile circus performers who are beautifully in tune with one another. They wore costumes of grey and black; modern and functional just like the backdrop. A visual reminder of how our oil-based, divorced-from-nature lifestyles affect every part of us.
It took me a while to settle into the sparseness of the performance. Silent throughout, and accompanied by various types of background music, you had to concentrate hard to interpret the concepts they were trying to convey. At times when you felt a little lost or confused, however, you could still sit open-mouthed at the physical feats that they were so confidently and calmly accomplishing right in front of you.
Much of the show was based around two props; a smooth, large piece of wood that looked rather like a flattened row boat and various green bottles and planks of wood. Symbolising well the small chance that our human species have of surviving the rest of the century reasonably intact. Rocky and Vincent began playfully, using the ‘boat’ like a seesaw, rather like children without a care in the world. He knocks her off the boat, and the juxtaposition of the two performers; one distracted and isolated with headphones moving erratically, and the other slowly and forcefully, representing the inexorable changes in nature that continue as we are distracted with our modern toys and joys. It works well; she is strange and fidgeting and he keeps us entranced with shifting one arm balances on a tiny little beam.
The acrobatics were tightly controlled; so much so that watching them was rather disturbing. It was a blend of ballet, gymnastics, techno dance and monkey like animal movements. She stood on his head on one foot; she places her feet on his belly. She is so tiny in comparison to his large Australian surfer dude frame you don’t flinch half as much as when he then does it to her in return. As ‘the balance of things undone by money’ as the voice over says, comes into full effect, and our human disconnection kick starts the end of the world as we know it, they begin to fight with one another. But they pull it back with a look of fear and an acknowledgement of the terrible reality that awaits, and then mutual comfort begins. Adam and Eve need to repent and begin all over again. The colliding voices of conflicted media arrests us; ‘no frogs, no vegetarians, no lesbians, no CO2 questions’…as is boomed out in a distorted manner, give way to their making the world all over again with what they have left, as a hand-made spinning windmill, makeshift but functional, which gives us hope as Vincent delivers Rocky to the ‘boat’ and spins her around.
The audience was small but highly appreciative, and gave them enthusiastic applause with some whoops thrown in. They seemed like genuinely warm-hearted and good people who believe strongly in the urgent message they are trying to convey. Their performance did indeed have the startling effect of making you review the usefulness of your entire life and whether you were making enough effort to move things along in the right direction; another urgent wake up call to the fact that we are teetering right on the edge of eco-Armageddon.
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Reviewer: Lisa Williams
four-stars

Snap : A Contemporary Mystery Performance

Assembly George Square

Aug 6-29

13.20

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Stagecraft : five-stars Performance : five-stars Gasps : five-stars
Now this was a return to form. As soon as I took my seat in the theater, the soothing electronic sounds embalmed my senses. Swirling pinks and reds were projected onto Aalush, velvet stage curtain. A first taste of the very colorful stage production that I hoped was to follow. Snap is an hour of very clever interesting illusion to delight both the children and the adults. South Korea certainly has a unique take on magic shows. Cabaret with an emphasis on innocence, to which is added a clever use of film and traditional tricks presented by easily recognizable characters from a bygone age. Each of the acts in this hour of tantalizing treats offering the consummate “Gasp, how did they do that” factor.
Mime plays an important role in keeping the audience entertained, while my favorite act involved a very handsome gentleman with lots of glitter. The perfect Fringe production for the children in all of us. A Five Star Performance that will leave a lasting ‘Good Time’ memory for all of the family.
Reviewer : Mark Divine Calvert
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