Author Archives: yodamo
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
Cirque Alphonse: Animal
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.
Gilbert & Sullivan’s Nightmare
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.
The Failure Cabaret
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
Baxter vs the Bookies
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.
Pleasance Dome – KingDome
Aug 15-21 (15:00)
I’m afraid I cannot give this show any stars. Not ‘no’ stars, just I don’t want to pin a judgement to the tail of Starship Improvise. But it’s the Fringe! Stars are important! Yes, OK, if it was the same show every night, then quantifying it does make sense, identifying whatever cave in the Parnassian slopes it would have excavated for itself. Starship Improvise, however, I know for a fact can swing from pole to pole. There’s too many variables to give an accurate judgement of this show & I went in two in a row to assess that. The first was weak & draggy, the second was bright & funny. That is the nature of Improv, I guess. One dodgy tangent, one shallow premise, & the whole show is clinging to a colander at sea.
But when done well, improv is priceless, genius, inspiring, whatever superlative you’ve got at that moment… & so to Starship Improvise which at times is done to that superlative-heavy standard, but then again sometimes not. The idea is, of course, a Star Trek / Red Dwarf style romp thro the crew’s character conflicts & wherever they end up in that episode of the saga. This is on-running, by the way, & people come back episode after episode. I did it for two, like I said earlier, & they are completely different affairs, its just the crew are the same. There’s a captain, a computer, an empath, a dog-man, etc. There’s cool names like Tripp Hazard & Richard Vitamins, & they all bounce off each other & onto the stage & back with a certain sense of giddy professionalism.
Their ship is the Celestia 7, & their trip is mixture of over-emotional interactions & quality comedic quipping, which are thoroughly dependent on how the crew handle this episode’s audience-given themes. The improv is of a distinguish’d level – there’s several Showstoppers in there -, with hardly a stutter or pause anywhere. If you’re a fan of Star Trek or Red Dwarf, especially, you’re gonna absolutely adore this. It is pure sci-fi, tho’ going over very common ground – there’s no cultural earthquake with Starship Improvise. Not for everyone, but for those who it is for it’ll be a great buzz
The Importance of being… Earnest?
Pleasance Courtyard (Beyond)
Aug 12 – 14, 19 – 21, 26 – 28
15 – 18, 22 – 25, 13.30
Pleasance Courtyard was busy just down from North Bridge in the hot sunshine. The complex had lot’s of families enjoying the times between shows. ‘The Importance of being…Earnest’ was to be performed in the Beyond venue, that turned out to be a larger room with seating in the hundreds. I am a little familiar with this Oscar Wilde play so as we went in to sit the set was no surprise it was a room with a door, with the mod con’s in the fashion of the hundred year old play.
In the first scene two finely dressed gentlemen began with that most flavoursome dialogue Wilde is known and loved for, full of regard and straightforwardness. The air was jovial between the two so I settled in expecting an acting master class in a play called trivial comedy for serious people.
There was a huge unexpected turn of events; as when Earnest was in earnest introduced (to come through the door) it didn’t open and no one appeared. Ok so what had happened? How could a play ending catastrophe happen on a stage like this?
Running on stage the Director himself took a microphone in the disruption to apologise; by this time we knew that the obligatory twist to the tail would be something surprising. I won’t tell you here and now how things unfolded and spoil the story of event after event but after it all had happened I can say that it can stand as a great tribute to the flamboyant playwright.
Swinging open the doors for scenes of mayhem, live action that defied theatrical comprehension (yet was grounded by the strongest of takes on it). Improvisation was stretched beyond belief as all ties were cut from any kind of dusty retelling with or without good diction.
A roaring cast had to dialogue with inexperience and had a lot of breath gasping prompting. Uncertainty screamed and howled with tantalising comedy, and a revitalising use of craft pulled us in every direction possible. I had not seen this side of live play before as it oozed in creative freedom while always continuing to try and tell the tale of Earnest who after all was only in love.
Dealing with the cast, the crowd, the Oscar Wilde elements we were allowed into the bones of a cast controlled by its director, and there was no little amount of tenderness and care to be absorbed when things and moments of unfolding really got very sticky. Prompted by disbelief our emotions were taken on a ride like a rollercoaster with unhinged wheels.
A most complete show to be envied, a true dedication that chose well ‘The Importance of being …Earnest’ offering all the joys Wilde would glow with. The original 1895 script whose title was of such importance is always interpreted in a different way, with a chance to escape the problems of the world, in this show the whole thing stood on its head while balancing on a ball.
Assembly Roxy (15.30)
Run Completed today
Do you know what we mean by Zoë?
We mean the roar
The clock and the stone
They all roar
Old industrial knitting machines
The red jug and the waxflowers roar
Small mountains roar
The North Sea
And permafrost roar
The Lancefield bus roars
Eukaryotic cells roar
Slugs and fire and
The white sky roar
The exhausted ensemble roars
The words we have roar
Cups of tea roar
The sunrise and
Zoe Roars Yes
The Assembly Roxy is a Gothic Church in Edinburgh’s old town, the
perfect venue for this surreal and abstract work of art. Physical theatre company A Good Catch, all the way from Melbourne, bring a visual spectacle in the form of acrobatics, gymnastics, circus arts and clownwork, three performers working together as one cohesive and incredibly impressive unit. Everything in their triumphant displays of physicality seems perfectly placed and very deliberate, every movement motivated by another or by the piece’s stimulus.
Transported into a world where nothing makes sense, the performance begins with the above poem “Zoe” Projected onto a table and the cast. Debra Batton, Sharon Gruenert & Spenser Inwood begin this piece of surreal and abstract choreographed genius. With clever use of simple props to demonstrate the strength, skill and agility of our three acrobats, with gasps aplenty coming from the audience, surrealism never looked so good. I still have no idea what it all meant, but it was delicious eye-candy and it did take one’s mind out of the box, to make one think in a different way. Indeed that is surrealism’s job to make one think and leave a lasting impression..
An all-round 5 star Performance.
Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert