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.
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
Aug 13-24 (12:10)
Underbelly Circus Hub
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…
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!!
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.
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.
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
C venues – C Aquila
Aug 10-18 (18:25)
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.
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.
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
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.
Assembly Rooms – Bijou
Aug 9-18, 20-24 (23.10)