Monica Salvi: Mad Women In Her Attic

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PQA Venues @ Riddle’s Court

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


Mad Women In Her Attic is the collective experience of Monica Salvi’s acting roles that she has accomplished in her career as an actress and singer. The Fringe has always offered artistic diversity and Edinburgh becomes saturated with talent. So that means the bar has to be pushed higher. Quite beneficially, her sho is staged in the fabu;lous 16th Century Riddles Court building, where madness could not be more at home or more entertaining.

Monica Salvi has a voice & vocal range that would melt even the hardest of shadows. Her powerful and heart-melting beauty perfectly compliments this professionally trained singing voice. Monica Salvi could sing a phone book and make it sound beautiful. This is what I loved about this performance, she could have played it safe, her voice would have been enough to ensure a financial success. But the muse and the gift do not come easily, & The thin line between genius and insanity is a line that all great artists walk.

Seldom few have explored that line quite so beautifully in a musical stage production. For people who have a touch of madness and are fearful of challenging their inner demons, the subject matter of this performance couldnae be anymore confrontational. All the aspects of a disturbed personality are represented and the bits that people normally shy away from apart from when undergoing extensive psychotherapy or electric shock treatment are celebrated. It is a performance of dark, entertaining beauty and is guaranteed to disturb and delight in equal measure.

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

five-stars

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Circus Abyssinia: Ethiopian Dreams

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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

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Kevin Quantum: Vanishing Point

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Underbelly Bristo Square
August 7-26
18:45


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

five-stars

Rosie Sings! Facts About Love

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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

five-stars

Djuki Mala

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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

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Aaron Calvert: Declassified

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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

five-stars

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!


(Mes)dames

French Institute – Salle Emilienne Moreau-Evrard

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

www.constantvigier.com