From Judy to Bette: The Stars of Old Hollywood

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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.

Daniel Donnelly

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Vivir: Flamenco Guitar & Dance

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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.
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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
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VIVIR: Flamenco Guitar & Dance 

C venues – C Aquila

Aug 10-18 (18:25)

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www.aylineleonora.com

Tarot

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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.

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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.

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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
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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.
Sarah Lewis
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Tarot

Assembly Rooms – Bijou

Aug 9-18, 20-24 (23.10)

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www.feathersofdaedalus.co.uk

The Secret Room

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Lauriston Castle

11th, 13th, 14th 22nd Of August


There is a first time for everything and today Divine found a treasure that had never been brought to his attention before. An enchanted beautiful castle on the banks of The Firth Of Forth. It was the gardens of this beautiful place that took my breath away, planting seeds for future investigation of a Healing nature – and its on the 41 bus route. A short walk from Davidsons Mains. The Castle was built in the 16th century and has housed some important historical people. John Napier being one of them, a Grand Wizard best known as the discoverer of logarithms. He also invented the so-called “Napier’s bones” and made common the use of the decimal point in arithmetic and mathematics. We learned this from the historian’s welcome speech as we gathered in the gardens at the entrance to this place of wonder, who specifically described John Napier as one of the wizards that had lived in the Castle. Being a Wizard too, Divine was as excited as the nerds in the audience.

The enriching beauty of Lauriston Castle and to have been there for the first time was a five star wowing factor. My lovely reviewing companion Jo Legg was a first timer too. We were both suitably impressed with our experience and we hadn’t even entered the castle yet. The clouds were hanging dark and pendulous over The Firth Of Forth, the first of the Scottish Monsoon thunderstorms had given its daily cleansing and just as we were welcomed into the castle, the 2nd storm rolled in from Fife, sheet lightning crackled across the Forth as we were each given a playing card to hold. The Hearts and Diamonds on one team. The Spades and Clubs on the other. Divine was like a kid in a sweetshop. The castle is packed with lots of art treasures, paintings and tapestries that had me aching to investigate them individually. I had to remind myself that this was not the reason we were there.

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As we waited to enter the Library for our first magician experience ,Jo mentioned that one of the guys in the paintings looked uncannily like Divine, its only on doing the research now that I discover that the guy in the painting was none other than John Napier. Spooky!!!!!!! The door to the Library opened and we were introduced to our first magician. Drew McAdam. that displayed the uncanny ability to read minds. Going out of his way to explain how he was not psychic and was able to achieve his super sleuth revelations through psychology and sensory response. Very impressive indeed. To amp up the wow factor that little bit more, Drew explained that he was friends with Uri Geller and one of the things that Uri had imparted to Drew, was the miraculous gift of spoon bending. Woaaaaaaah. Divine had never seen it in real life before. And it happened right before our eyes. in real life. One spoon broke in two completely. Fantastic stuff.

There was a short wait untill we were ushered into the Dining Room. The spirits of past inhabitants of Lauriston Castle were queueing up to be channelled, I had to close my channel to concentrate on the gifted playing card shark that was about to mesmerize us with card tricks. Lewis Barlow, is a local magician specialising in the sleight of hand and has earned his stripes on The Free Fringe Circuit in years past. Notably selling out the Voddoo Rooms in 2018. Divine and the other guests that had been invited into the Dining Room to witness Lewis Barlow in an intimate setting. If you like playing card Magik you will love Lewis.

Then from the Dining Room to the Drawing Room. To be welcomed by the amazing Adam Black. Master of the Rubik’s Cube with superhuman dexterity of hand, the excitement was reaching fever pitch as time and time again, the Rubik’s Cube was completed with breathtaking speed. Adam made Rubiks Cubes vanish before our very eyes and even completing the puzzle without all the twisty bits involved. Captivating his small audience. We were all stood with our mouths wide open in awe at what we had just experienced and then the show was over.

Lauriston Castle is Divines new friend, such an important place of Historical interest, eye candy at every turn and the perfect escape from the festival packed city. A refreshing and revitalising place of natural wonder and artistic intrigue, The Magicians were just fantastic and the venue is out of this world interesting and its history is mind bogglingly exciting. A perfect antidote to Fringe Fatigue.

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

five-stars

The Dots

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Imagination Workshop – Hanover Suite
Aug 8-25 (20.00)

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Edinburgh warmly welcomes the sexy and stylish trio known as The Dots. Three diverse and completely different characters provide comedy caberet with a glamorous flair. A desperate Dot Helen is eagerly looking for two wannabe sidekicks, and by jove does she find them. Take three marshmallows, sprinkle them with glitter, and toss them in tumble-dryer for an hour and hey presto, you have The Dots! Courageous, strong-minded and determined, these independent women cascade onto the stage like a powerful waterfall. They have only one thing in mind, to steal the show. With more energy than a electricity grid they are here to entertain, but Helen can only pray that these two new stooges make the grade.

Like an overflowing glass of wine the laughter just keeps spilling over the edge into the laps of the audience. The Dots take us on a well-written, face-paced and gritty musical journey. Battered and bruised, Helen is falling apart but is determined to finish the show, so unwillingly allows Macey her time in the spotlight. Not a good idea!! With the sweetest singing voices, this is a heart-warming and intoxicating, chic experience that caresses and teases you at every turn. Having laughed more than a pack of hyenas, The Dots had me in stitches from start to finish.

Raymondo Speedie

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Heroes

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Underbelly, George Square
Aug 10-26 (15:00)

This is an entertaining hour of family fun, two performers and ariel acrobats. These talented mesmerizes of the audience are Tony Mills, who trained as a breakdancer and then went on to train at The Space For Contemporary Dance in Dundee; and Beverely Grant, Tony’s faithful companion and co-star. She trained at the Rambert School of Contemporary Dance with a focus on circus performance art. Together they bring to life their latent superpowers through the use of very clever choreography and breathtaking circus skills. We are treated to demonstrations of Superspeed, Superstrength and the flight scenes all represented through physical theatre – brought to life in an original and captivating way. With hilarious clowning filling the Udderbelly with the laughter of children in the audience, we wer all transported into a Superhero world of possibility and imagination. Everyone loves Superheroes and everyone will love this performance.

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The All Or Nothing Ariel Dance Troupe are local to Edinburgh and are based at the Out Of The Blue, Drill Hall in Leith. Offering workshops throughout the Fringe for people to develop some of the amazing ariel circus skills presented in today’s performance, to encourage everyones inner Superhero to be brought to life. As inspirational performance art goes this a must-see performance it is perfect for families and children of all ages.

You Will Believe A Woman Can Fly. ❤

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

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An Interview with Joanna Vymeris

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The creator of 2016’s superb Alice in Wonderland is returning to Edinburgh


Hello Joanna, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Hello! We are from London. Although the group as a whole, in typical circus fashion live fairly nomadic lives and are often scattered around the globe.

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Can you tell us about your sports career?
So I trained as a gymnast at a young age competing as a base in sports acrobatics. Which is funny as in circus I’m always a flier. I competed for three years but at the age of 14 transitioned to circus. I went back to gymnastics at Cambridge University and competed for the university team each year.

Where, when & why did you make the transition to the more creative, & less competitive world of circus?
I quit competitive gymnastics at the age of 14 when competition between the squad and even against my own pair and trio felt toxic. With such an emphasis on appearance and perfection I realised it wasn’t the world for me. I felt an emptiness in my life when I left but then went to see Traces by the Seven Fingers and was instantly inspired. My first contemporary circus show – I couldn’t believe such a thing existed. Incredible acrobatic ability with such aesthetic and artistic beauty and creativity. Before I knew it I was auditioning for the youth program at the National Centre for Circus Arts and that was that. I trained in flying trapeze and tumbling throughout my teenage years at the incredible space in Shoreditch and had the honour of working with companies such as Ockhams Razor on our annual shows.

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What is, would you say, the quintessence of your creativity?
The quintessence of my creativity. Wow what a question. Probably my adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a forest in Brazil last year. We created an immersive experience, guiding the audience around the forest in the incredible Rosemary Dream with fairies hanging from aerial equipment in trees and Shakespeare and live music ringing out into the night. I had pretty much no budget so made all of the costumes and designed the lighting myself and encouraged students from a circus school to participate. It was a magical experience and something I’d love to develop with more time and money in the UK.

You directed a sell out circus adaptation of Alice in Wonderland at the 2016 Fringe, how did you find the experience?
Alice was incredible. It was my first experience directing and has influenced my life ever since. I had a fantastic team of 30 students all so excited to be up in Edinburgh and enthusiastic to work hard to sell the show. We occupied a large strip of the Royal Mile everyday and flittered in abstract acrobatic poses with jugglers, dancers and musicians all parading around in black and white traditional circus get up. Edfringe still uses images of us flyering on the mile for their information packs on publicity which always makes me smile. It was of course also my first insight into the struggles of putting on a fringe show but clearly didn’t put me off as I returned the following year with Coppelia and now here I am two years on from that with Tarot.

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Who are The Feathers of Daedalus?
I set up the Feathers straight after finishing Alice in Edinburgh in 2016. I graduated from Cambridge with an art history degree and nothing seemed more logical than setting up a circus company. I was so inspired following Edinburgh from what I’d seen and the people I’d met. Having studied Art History and being a painter myself I wanted to create a company that would make multidisciplinary shows retelling surreal stories in the manner of Alice. With a date booked in Jacksons Lane the following May to premiere my first professional production and some Arts council funding behind me, I set off to travel the world and be further inspired in my shows developments. I developed parts of the project on an art residency in Japan, worked on some of the circus elements in a circus school in Brazil, and collected music and ideas all the way around.

You’re bringing a show this year’s Edinburgh Fringe; can you tell us about it?
Tarot is an acrobat, aerial and live jazz-soul show based on two audience card readings. With 22 card options and only 6 cards drawn each night, every show is different and the acrobats and musicians never know what’s coming up next. We want to create a show that’s fun, impressive and unites audiences in their shared experiences. Tarot has been quite the adventure. 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. I organically built an incredible team made up of people I’d worked with previously and those recommended for their interest in Tarot. I felt like I lucked out with my cast and band. They’re all incredibly experienced and talented and have been amazing to work with.

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What is the biggest obstacle you overcame while putting your show together?
As with so many shows – lack of time and lack of money. With issues getting funding and a cast who all live busy lives scattered over the world it’s been tough to pull the show together. But we managed to find 10 days when we were all in the UK and with some of us juggling other jobs to fund the show, here we are.

You’ve got 20 seconds to sell Tarot to somebody in the street, what would you say?
Ever wanted a tarot card reading? Want to see your tarot lived out in front of you by world class acrobats? Come and check out trot. The circus spectacle with live jazz-soul music in response to audience Tarot card readings. Every show is different. Every show is unique.

What will you & Tarot be doing after the Fringe?
Tour the world? Wouldn’t that be nice. For now the next step is Underbelly on the Southbank in London in September.  After that. Let’s see.


Tarot

Assembly Rooms – Bijou

Aug 9-18, 20-24 (23.10)

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www.feathersofdaedalus.co.uk