Paradise in Augustines
Aug 19-20 (19:20)
The amazing Kooch graced the stage at Paradise in Augustine’s in the form of a four piece band (guitar, drums, bass and saxophone) with the wonderfully dressed vocalist, Shirin Majd, at the centre. They played as they took their places, drawing us in to what felt like an exotic world of beauty, unfamiliar yet so natural. The genres seemed to range from western opera to Italian tragedy, mixed with a kind of fusion jazz, mixed with folk and they played new and old songs in Farsi, Turkish, Spanish and English. The folklore spoke of a love so endearing as to climb to the angels and announce it.
Shirin would touch the air gently, swaying her hips as she sang, a voice I have never heard the like of before. The music would stop mid song and start again seemingly out of beat, in constant free motion, creating a stunning vision of love and passion. Accompanying the melodies they played videos on a large screen, depicting images of hardship, war, displacement, suffering, so that the music took on the meaning of all the things that displaced people’s hope for – peace, love, belonging. Until the pictures eventually became more light-hearted and echoed the great emotions that the lyrics spoke of.
The ensemble’s final embellishment was the appearance of a belly dancer in full jingling garb of beautiful, original design, expressively telling the stories through dance and making several costume changes where each new garment was even more spectacular than the last. You could feel that this plush space had found the perfect show to live up to the surroundings – a truly magical masterpiece which raised beauty to such a height as to make it hard to believe that it came from the simple act of singing and playing and dancing. Ancient, modern, brilliant, passionate, honest, beautiful, amazing in every nuance. In fact a master class.
Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly
Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows
Aug 20-24 (17:00)
When me & my sister were growing up in the 80s, we dearly loved all the cool American films like Teenwolf & Dirty Dancing. So, when I discovered that two comets were on a collision course; my sister’s visit to Edinburgh with the niblings, & Los Angeless Short Round Productions arrival at the Fringe with Filament, it was a no-brainer, I had to take her. The chief reason is that the thread seguing some extremely sophisticated, & fast-paced acrobatics is an American high school menage a trois.
The Dirty Dancing bit
This is acrobatic theatre that although is driven by a retro theme, is enacted instead on the cutting edge of its art – the routines were breathholdingly breathtaking at times. Everything is there to wow & please the traditionalist; an ever-moving montage of body shapes brought on by hula-hoop, trapeze, juggling, dangleropes & bendy-wendys – all done to the beat of an amazing soundtrack. I’ve had a soft-spot for the American TV show Big Little Lies over the past fourteen months or so, mainly for its supercool soundtrack each episode. I felt the same sensations of appreciation within me while tapping my feet along to the lithe talent pirouetting with pure professionalism across & above the circus floor. One cannot help but be happily hypnotised by the unexhausting energy of the Short Round Gang as they sail their story-arc-boats along those streams of sexual attraction found in every US student soup.
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!!