theSpace – Surgeons Hall
Aug 24 – 26, 17.15
Fleming Hall lies around the back of the Space venue Surgeons Hall up South Bridge. The hall had a delicious sense in its lay out, seats sloping slightly to the stage below. On comes Elsa Jean McTaggart, returning to the Fringe, to introduce and celebrate the most gracious life and times of Eva Cassidy. In her life Eva had put an arm around the world with her music and personality.
Elsa hold’s Eva (who died tragically) in her heart as her most favourite artist of all time. Her love was evident on stage as she burst into the song ‘Songbird’, written originally by Christine McVie who played with Fleetwood Mac, but performed with a whole new wealth to the song.
Eva, whose footage was onscreen, would often cover songs she loved and through her multitalented harmonising made them into something quite different. Elsa stood out, with her voice a tale in itself, all was up as we considered Eva’s unbelievable vocal range Elsa had it covered through a great, rich, and saddest of times that perpetrated the story and the music of Eva.
Such a great heart was afoot, that gave the performance an edge and brought about a huge giving sentiment, with clarity and crystal clear guitar and vocal. She struck and pulled at the heart strings of all there, including herself and it became like a eulogy as we were guided along with Eva’s story from birth to the end, in an act that captivated, inspired and even set us free.
It was a melodic experience of music that conducted the world and stopped many heads who were blown away by Eva’s voice and talents on the guitar. She could find more harmonies than even The Beach Boys, her class and style blew away cobwebs and dissolved falseness all of which tuning through musical success.
And quietly we listened to Elsa gently, lovingly and heartbreakingly speak about her favourite star, to then sing with all the glory contained in Eva’s vocal achievements. Eva’s success looked like blooming into greater potential heights when she was diagnosed with Cancer, we listened with a sense of sympathy and honour.
I got all of this information from going to see the show, the well presented tasteful tribute and celebration. Eva’s sense of ethics also shone through in her life and when she left home things were looking good, she may have famously died before she sold but I really don’t think that affected the success of her life, being human. She was tried on this when the family moved school and she discovered poverty and great discourtesy, to her sadness and disbelief.
There is so much to say about this beautiful, exceptional, wonderful artist who touched the world and everything in it by learning to play music and express to a level rarely rivalled by any. But when you get to see this show called simply ‘Eva Cassidy: The Story’ all provisions were attentive to the stage that was filled with a big heart made bigger in the deserved praise in the way that this young musician was able to abundantly shape the world and everything around her. A harmonious story of rich, learned and stunningly beautiful music performed in the same degree.
theSpace on the Mile
Aug 23 – 27, 20.10
There seems to be a heightening in this years Edinburgh Fringe of the thing that matters most; the actual performances. We turned up to the Space on the mile for a very short (half hour) play called ‘1:2:2192 (Retribution Day)’ some kind of code for the apocalypse to come? On one level yes!
This was a two person play brought about in the hotel venue, the close and clean space had only a couple of rows of seats on three sides of the looming yet practical stage (floor level). For the purposes of clarity the scenario was a lawyer (an anchor to judge the characters) as they shifted from memory to memory shared by a couple seemingly in love.
They verbally danced together sang together argued together and finished each others thoughts. There was a kind of patience in the affaire using silence and thought as much as dialogue and action. But the action took its twofold place in the story unfolding all was not well in a remembered moment of abuse.
From that moment on the story hit the wilderness of self harm and life catastrophe. Hospital admission, diagnosis, revenge; onward was driven into their lives that we saw become more and more unwell. We were entertained with pain and severe mental illness being played and imparted.
I guess the length of the show, was put in place to heighten the surreal experience with even a few jokes placed here and there. The two managed a kind of consistency with lines written for thinking rather than to entertain or cajole.
They would often look out into the crowd and in the close (passionate) space it felt like peering into your soul, which was all this play was about, with dialogue as I have said of very upsetting terms. The word control really helped them steal the show in their great and ultimately destruction powers of it. They do get help but every time while it works in the beginning it becomes clear that getting better wouldn’t take place.
Taking the place were the dynamics, and a serious delusion seemed the fill the air almost like a fog. They finished very quickly but all that needed to be said was, unfortunately the brightly written well conducted moments of silence perpetrated could not save the two from their self harming anguish, a timely play perhaps but lets keep believing in hope for the future. Not over loaded with darkness but filled with terror.
Underbelly “McEwan Hall”
23 – 28th August @ 15.30pm
Within the busy and bustling Bristo Square is the Underbelly’s McEwan Hall which is playing host to the Dance, Theatre and Circus show by the Cirk La Putyka and Kyiv Municipal Academy of Variety and Circus Art called BOOM ! Coming together not long after the outbreak of war in Ukraine in 2022 these young artistic dancers and theatrical actors have a story to tell.. A talented 15 plus cast members take to the stage with silent effect.
With music that Tangerine Dream would be very proud of the earie yet enchanting sound fills the auditorium with a pleasant blanket of calmness.. Through the magic and dynamics of expressive movement the human spirit is present in each twist and muscle contraction. Moving from strength to strength this piece of physical theatre navigates the pearls of borders and the love of friendships entangled with emotions of hope.
Impeccable ground and air excellence provides the audience with death defying dance moves that enthral you with inspiration. Theatrical storytelling, dance and circus acts connect with incredible timing and are executed in an eloquent manner. Smooth like silk and rough like an uncut diamond this is a precious and inspiring piece of theatre. Through the creation of dance, messages of hope, love, family, despair, truth, connection, wisdom, fight and honesty are the ingredients that bind this show together.
Funny, as well as intriguing this generates a positive reception from an already captivated audience. Juggling, acrobats, gymnastics , diabolo, comedy, folk singing are all incorporated beautifully in this twisting bending and mending masterpiece. These young talented performer’s deliver a delightful but hard hitting well-choreographed story that deserves all the credit they receive… A must see at Edinburgh Fringe 2022.
Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows
Aug 18-21, 23-27 (17:30)
Divine tends to shy away from Bowie Tributes, Having seen The Master live 9 times up until his ascension anything other than the genuine Bowie would never cut the mustard. Have never seen a tribute do Bowie Satisfactorily. However, it was while coming out of the Laffeyette Big Top last night that I heard the song selection of Bowie Numbers performed and I have to say I was quite impressed, two of my contemporary faves. I’m Afraid Of Americans and Halo Spaceboy alas this was the Pet Shop Boys Duet with Bowie and not the Rockin Outland version. Still I had a little boogie on the Meadows, before returning home to write my Cirque Alfonzoe Review.
Then this morning I put the feelers out both to Damo at the Mumble and the people at Underbelly for review tickets for todays 5.25pm performance. The tickets arrived at 3pm, Good Time and I was off on my review Mission of the day. Getting to The Circus Hub in plenty of time and joined the queue for the afternoon’s performance of Rebel. Now why would a Bowie Tribute be performing in The Circus Hub one might ask? Well get this, Rebel is a circus performance set to the music of David Bowie, Now this really is entertainment multitasking.
Stewart Reeve – lead Singer
Rachel Trainor – Drums
Chris Singer – guitar, pole
Matt Anderson – keys and juggling
Jane Schofield – aerial and hoops
Rockie Stone – Saxophone, bottles and chairs
Rebel is an Australian production with band and acrobats from Melbourne,New Zealand and the USA, having done successful national Australian tours, Rebel arrived on British soil for the first time at the beginning of the Fringe and has performed to a packed Spiegel Tent every night and have only heard great things about this unique and contemporary take of the work of the Grandmaster.
So first of all the lead singer of Rebel, Stewart Reeves. Did he cut the mustard? Well the lad had a fare crack of the whip and with passion he sang the hits of Bowie with a competent backing band, that delighted the audience, Ziggy Stardust, Heroes, Space Oddity, Life On Mars. Fashion, I’m Afraid Of Americans, Halu Spaceboy Lazerus, Changes, Lets Dance, Under Pressure and a Labyrinth Number, The Magic Dance.. The song selection is completely awesome Indeed it was an informed selection of music to cover.
Now the beautifully choreographed acrobatics, ariel trapeze. juggling, Hula Hooping masterclass of balance and poise takes the front stage, the opening ariel trapeze performance to Space Oddity was a thing of beauty. And there was a different performance of circus brilliance for each of the songs performed. Indeed Rebel is a lot to take in and can do nothing other than delight. This is a unique and adventurous creative project and yes Bowie would approve, Bowie loved Circus Skills. Did it work? Well the audience gave a standing ovation at the end of the performance, it is without a doubt a hit of the Fringe and it is noble in scope and reach at first an unlikely fusion of performance arts, yes it did work with added Stardust. Indeed a 5 Star Fringe performance.
Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert
Underbelly’s Circus Hub
Until the 27th (16.25)
The company, which unites the Carabinier-Lépine family and friends, gets its name from Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez, its municipality of origin in Lanaudière. The Québec fibre is central to each Cirque Alfonse creations as the troupe draws on national folklore for themes, to which a modern touch is added.
The Alfonse clan has captured the hearts the public in 2011 with its lumber camp in Timber!, and its cabaret electro-traditional cabaret in Barbu in 2014 followed by Tabarnak in 2017. After having toured the globe several times and experienced worldwide success, the troupe returns to give you have an unforgettable time. with this new production called Animal.
My 2nd visit to the Lafayette Big Top on The Meadows to witness death-defying world-class acrobatics, I had the good fortune of getting review tickets from this all singing, all dancing rock n roll Family Acrobatic Opera. With a full backing band that deserved a 5 Star performance of their own. Such was the brilliance of the musicians that created this dynamic soundtrack, All of the family of acrobats shared vocal duties, the two beautiful lady acrobats were also the lead singers. The songs presented were all indigenous to the Motherland of Crique Alphonse, agricultural farm fables, Hence the working title of “Animal” Farm Animal to be exact, The Lafayette was transformed into a working dairy farm with a Kick Ass Soundsystem.
With simple props, the audience were on the edges of their seats as this family of accrobats performed beautifully choreographed athletic feats of draw dropping eye candy, with a very funny rubber chicken sketch, the little ones in the audience thought it was very very funny, I did too. It was a big family audience for a big family show. Three generations of family. From the stilt walking, Tractor Wheelying Grandpa, who also shares vocal duties. To the closing scene where the newest additions to Cirque Alfonze, balancing on Daddies hand without a flinch.
Animal is perfect for families and it brings the inner child out in all that see it.
Roll Up, Roll Up. Get Yer Tickets Now. The Alphonses Are In Town.
Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert
Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows
Aug 18-21, 23-27 (19:35)
La Clique is a blend of master acrobats, bangin’ music, hot fellas & stunning gals, all serv’d up on a slice of cabaret rye. An audience of 99 percent adults were all reverting to their own childhood days at the Big Top; gasping & laughing & just being happy. I found myself sitting with 4 local lassies, who came back every year, they told me, for they thought this the best show at the Fringe. It was good, yeah, but not amazing, & the roller-skating couple who could potentially send the woman shooting into the audience like an exocet was actually quite alarming. I was soon assessing the possible risk to myself & worked out with velocity & distance she’d be landing about 6 rows in front of me, thank fuck!
La Clique is possibly the coolest cabaret I’ve ever been to, its pretty slick like, with escapism & entertainment the order of the day. One-by-one our performers enter the stage for their slot, & after 75 minutes they all appear together to a euphoric ovation & a sea of smiling faces.
theSpace on the Mile – Space 2
Aug 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26 (17:35)
In the past 6 months or so I find myself being sucked into the vortex that are the Savoy Operas, written & composed by that great Victorian cultural combo – Gilbert & Sullivan. I have even decided to compose a piece of musical theatre myself entitl’d the Savoyards, & I was overjoyed to see Blue Fire Theatre Company visiting Edinburgh touching the same subject.
I need something from Iolanthe that will really show off my gravitas
Gilbert & Sullivan’s Nightmare consists of a young flare-dripping pianist & a decrepit, dusty, rrrrrr-rolling, old Savoyard with delusions of grandeur as to his own standing in the D’Oyley Carte company. Understudy to the understudy is the truth of the matter, but he powers on thro several butcherings of the most classic G&S tunes. In-between there is some marvellously witty-pattering reminiscences, with an occasional bounceback from the pianist, that is dipped in great wax-vats of research & has come out with a lit wick on which we can penetrate deep into the heart of the Savoy Theatre, the Strand.
I can clear a room in mere seconds, such is my influence
As it progresses thro its 45 minutes, the play gets funnier & warmer & from the laughter of clear G&S acolytes in the audience, pushes all the right buttons. I’m nowhere near as steep’d in those guys as to the wonderfulness of G&S – but I’m getting there, & this play really helped fill out some of my imaginings as to the energy of the era. I am now looking very much forward to writing my own play on the subject in the Autumn.
Aug 17-28 (21.05)
I awoke with the fear this morning, I had the come-down blues from such a high-octain Sunday of Rock N Roll finesse at Party In The Palace, it was just Brilliant. So I broke free the shackles and headed on my review mission of the day. I walked to Porty and down the coastal path to Seafield and across to Restalrig to see Linda for a catch up and a natter. Then I headed into town “Just Like A Sacred Clown” via the Pianodrome on Waterloo Place, where I had a good tinkle of the Ivories, before heading to the Cowgate for tonight’s entertainment.
This was a show of which I had great anticipation for on reading the reviews, now into its third week of the Fringe Season. All of them gave a full five stars. So I already knew that this was going to be an excellent performance.
Stephanie Dodd from Fremont, Nebraska (Vocals/Accordion) & Justin Badger from Fremont, California (Vocals/Guitar) perform original music to tell their story of meeting in New York, performing on Broadway, accidentally moving to a pretentious mountain town and doing everything in their power to stay sane and married at the same time.
Tonight’s heroes of entertainment. The Fremonts, delivered a beautiful spectacle of eye candy. Think Madonna in her beautiful prime with Brandon Flowers of the Killers. Both in voice and looks. With a very clever script, delving into the complexities of marriage, Young and Beautiful and completely in love, Doing the Shadow Work, This is a Musical. With original songs and a brilliantly written psychodrama the journey of true love and a shared Muse.
The Failure Cabaret. The title of the show draws from the beautiful couples failings and the good that came out of each one. Its a very intimate performance, an invitation into the Soul of The Fremont’s successful marriage and they completely fancy each other Not surprising they are Divine’s type of gorgeous. Both have rock star voices and rock star looks, And both are incredibly talented musicians and the songwriting is genius. So it’s not surprising why The Fremonts have already had great success with this Fringe Show in some very prestigious venues globally. Divine also gives five stars to this Rock Opera and the complete remedy for post festival blues.
The Failure Cabaret is therapy for the soul in so many ways a heart warming reflection of true love and soulmates creating brilliance. Deep and satisfying on so many levels. Aye The Failure Cabaret is Winner. A Divine Top Tip of the Fringe. See it while you can, you will love it.
Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert
Gilded Balloon Teviot
Aug 17-22, 24-28 (12:40)
Andy Linden takes to the stage this year at the 75th Edinburgh Fringe in the role of Baxter, the charismatic and very likeable gambler who takes his hobby very seriously. Studying the racing forms in-depth, he has plenty of insider contacts and observes the details of the horses at the race track by hanging around the stable block.
Linden has been a familiar face on television and in films for many years from John the Watch in Count Arthur Strong to Mundungus Fletcher in Harry Potter.
Written in 2004 by Roy Granville at a time when racing was a different world to the online gambling availability in today’s world. The old-school tipsters like Baxter reminded me of my family and evenings spent as a child at the dog race track. My Grandad and Uncles had been bookmakers and worked for bookmakers which gave me an advantage of understanding the racing language and how phrases like the each-way betting odds work, it certainly took me back a few years.
One of the points Baxter’s character highlights is the all-consuming world that becomes an addicted gambler’s life. Normal relationships suffer, it’s always onto the next big win that is going to change their life. Sadly, this is rarely the reality and as I remember being told growing up “you rarely meet a poor bookmaker”!
I fully appreciate that this performance could be lost on a wider audience who haven’t any experience in gambling or racing and might struggle to comprehend some of the terms Baxter uses. However, Rest assured that the likes of Baxter exist/existed and over the years I have certainly encountered a few.
In my experience, it’s one of those rare Edinburgh fringe theatre productions where you feel like you are the only member of the audience in the room and that Baxter talking to you directly. The Wee Room in the Gilded Balloon is “wee” and adds the intimate space that this performance deserves.
Aug 19 – 21, 26 – 28, 18, 23 – 25, 29, 13.05
‘Tiger Lady’ is a Dead Rabbit Production Fringe show at Pleasance; I thought it was a great title that stood out like a familiar face in a crowd. It was a show to celebrate the Fringe’s 2022 festival from Greenwich Theatre Connections. I was given a flyer for it that was an invite to a circus show of music, trained elephants and tigers when I cued at the Above room door.
The theatre struck out with a dusty scene of a street as Mabel Stark (Tiger Lady’) sat down and out and a song commenced the play. She took her cue to a start as of someone fragile with a storm in progress in the background telling us of the reason’s the storm had found her.
But she got to her feet, took in the present moment with a deep breath and threw the play open wildly stating a desire to join the circus. She was discovered after spending the night in a dangerous tiger cage.
Her stresses were to disappear; it was the summer of 1913 when Mable managed to join the circus, she found that the close knit community was based on love and loyalty, just what she needed. The ever trying Ringmaster could be ruthless in his management but that didn’t get her spirit’s down
Instead she dreamt of getting in a cage with a tiger to put her skill on the line and to blow away doubt in a daring act. Were we in a theatre or at the circus? It had a story of overcoming to vie for, acrobatics that were a spectacle to take our breath away, songs that had their bluesy connotations, and a love story for two separate but bonded souls.
The Tiger act was to grow into a cash overflowing enterprise as it was taken to the heights of popularity for Mable and her circus. In her rise so did the excitement of the stage rise, realistic puppets of the cats had in them the presence of actual Bengal Tigers moving around. The play was a performance of an obviously close team.
Hitting the heights of creativity a huge white sheet was spread covering all of the stage billowing in effectiveness as water or in a magical moment took the shape of an elephant.
The highs and lows of the top hats of the circus were dipped in a wonderful success for the amazing, courageous big cat tamer Mable Stark who tamed her lions and tigers to great popularity that grew for those in the play as it did to those (us) watching the play, we felt just as rich! This was a very touching lively play/circus was worth the price of admission.
Injuries were sustained in close proximity of the fearsome animals but they were brushed aside in the face of love and success. So when it all fell apart at the behest of a letter the whole room felt the demise. A ring master incensed and a crew down and out gave the act its ending a timely one, the bonding continued on.
Go and see this unobtrusively surprising play that welcomed us one and for all to the great Mable Stark Tiger Lady who stepped forth to a feast of an adventure. A show with a highly emotive, well written romp fit for the big top.