“Cirque Berserk!” (Pleasance at EICC : until AUG 25 : 13:30 18:30 : 60mins)

“There’s more room to manoeuvre in Elberel’s glass bottle, before the Mongolian contortionist has begun to emerge, than there is space left in Cirque Berserk’s running order.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars: Outstanding

A duck walks into a bar and asks the barman for a pint of lager tops and a packet of sweet chilli and lemongrass crisps. “You’re a duck!” exclaims the barman, “And you can talk. That’s amazing.” “Yeah,” the duck says looking surprised, “I’ve just started work on the building site round the corner.” “Listen, friend,” muses the barman, “one of my regulars is a circus ringmaster. You need to talk to him. He is bound to have a job for you.” “Ringmaster of a circus,” considers the duck, stroking his bill, “with clowns and acrobats and the flying trapeze all in a big top made of canvas?” “That’s right,” says the bar encouragingly. The duck looks totally lost. “What would he need a plaster for?”

I was taught that one by an auld American EdFringe pal on the day I was formally inducted into the and International Patriarchy of Assorted Punsters, a secretive confraternity of dads dedicated to absolute control of global affairs and the telling of jokes that make you groan. “The trick,” my Yankee proposer assured me, “to telling the ‘duck walks into a pub’ story is to mess with the details. It’s never getting stale if you change the type of drink and the type of crisps to suit the occasion.” From that conversation, I took away a greater appreciation of how the American stand-up and storyteller went about his craft, about how only the truly great masters of their art can work to a formula without ever becoming formulaic.

Julius Green, Cirque Berserk’s Creative Director, as well as Martin Burton, the Founder and Producer, have cooked up a formula that always sells out without ever selling out. Cirque Berserk is an international amalgamation of talent. “A non-stop smorgasbord of more than thirty different circus skills,” according to the programme, featuring performers “from as far afield as Kenya, Cuba, Mongolia, Brazil, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, and even the UK!” The aim is to, “combine the centuries-old skills and traditions of the touring circus troupe with a contemporary approach to staging.”

“Was that really only an hour?” I wonder in astonishment as we shuffle towards the exit, the slowest anyone has moved in in the Lennox Theatre in what seems like a lifetime. Of all the superhuman feats achieved packing that much into the preceding 60mins has to be one of the most remarkable. There’s more room to manoeuvre in Elberel’s glass bottle, before the Mongolian contortionist has begun to emerge, than there is space left in Cirque Berserk’s running order. And all of it is as much on target as the arrows she fires with her feet.

The Timbuktu Tumblers are definitely who you would call upon to help steal the world’s largest cubic zirconia from the Springfield Museum. For me, they represent the essence and the core of the Cirque Berserk experience.  Human pyramids, jumping through hoops, limbo with fire – Acrobatics is probably an art form as ancient as painting pictures of bison and woolly mammoths on cave walls. It has been a part of the human experience since before there were streets to perform in. And yet, The Timbuktu Tumblers – who also provide much of the staging sinews as the later acts come on and off – feel as immediate and authentic as a tumbler of mature single malt as they distil the history, skill, and precision required to make a measure of great art seem artless and straightforward.

The acts that follow are a showcase of talent and skill that put all else this EdFringe into the shade. There are Argentinian Bolas, the incredibly moving Four Hands & Two Wheels, strength, beauty, human catapults, knife throwing, aerial acrobatics, the best foot juggler in the world, a giant death robot, a tower of chairs and, to crown all, the extraordinary sound and fury of the Lucius Team with their motorcycles and Globe of Death – a coup de théâtre that has never been brought to a theatre before. And yet, there is a little something there that’s missing.

The most memorable revues are underpinned by an underlying narrative. A story that weaves the disparate elements together into a unified whole. The potential for such a narrative within Cirque Berserk is hinted at by the massive stage presence of Paulo dos Santos. The Brazillian native stands 3ft 6ins in his sneakers, but he dominates proceedings with his clowning, juggling, balancing, and crazy dangerous acrobatics. Together with the very lovely ladies of the Berserk Dancers & Aerial Ballet, he tells (without speaking) an over the rainbow tale of high ambition brought low. With a little bit more tweaking that (for me) essential element of traditional circus, the Ringmaster, could have been introduced while adding the very real bonus of delivering even more of the dos Santos magic. But that really is just me.

This is not a show that should be seen by dad’s of a nervous disposition, the kind who seem to spend their days strongly suggesting to preschoolers that they need to be more careful. It’s all I can do not to charge the stage, stand at the bottom to the 20-foot tower of chairs constructed by Fidel Silot and scream at the Cuban daredevil to, “get down from there this instant. Go perform the trick of sitting at the bottom of the stairs and thinking about what you’ve done.”

Daughter 1.0 (aged 4), by contrast, has entered a state of nirvana that Kung Fu Panda’s Master Oogway could only achieve by sitting alone in a cave for thirty years asking one question. It took Picasso four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child. Oh! to be able to see Cirque Berserk through eyes that have no sense that what they are watching is not what the rest of the world is like. Of all our shared EdFringe ‘19 experiences, this has been the highlight. It’s not just that the memories will linger, most likely forever, but that the most essential lesson a parent can teach a child has been demonstrated beyond dispute. “Baby girl what is impossible? I whisper as Alan Pagnota stands behind Rafael Ferrerira’s wheelchair and the crowd goes wild for the duo. “Nothing is impossible,” she rejoins without a trace of doubt in her voice.

outstanding

StarStarStarStarStar

Reviewer: Dan Lentell (Seen 17 August)

ALL our +3 (festivals) coverage? Click here!

THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN SUBEDITED

“Alasdair Beckett-King: The Interdimensional ABK” (Pleasance Dome, until AUG 26 : 18:50 : 60mins)

“Perhaps Alasdair Beckett-King, ABK’s, greatest quality and asset is that he dresses the part – he looks very much like Alasdair Beckett-King.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars: Nae Bad

Alasdair Beckett-King is clubbable. Firstly he has the large eyes expressive eyes of a baby seal as well as a fine red pelt that would look sensational as somebody’s sporran. He is also clubbable, in the less bloody, cruel, and senseless sense that, were his name to turn up in the book of candidates, the endorsements from existing club members would be so numerous that one would struggle to find space sufficient to signify one’s support. Perhaps Alasdair Beckett-King, ABK’s, greatest quality and asset is that he dresses the part – he looks very much like Alasdair Beckett-King.

And this is not a small or trifling thing. Slanted on the axis of space-time so that things tend to run from good to bad, from bad to worse, this dimension finds itself in eternal need of an ABK to put our self-destructive behaviours into whimsical perspective. The one we have is dressed in muted dandy splendour, as though he’s the moralising star of an ‘80s cartoon franchise who has popped round in-person to add a little gravity to an ungrounded world. Which he is. I wasn’t planning on seeing any standup this EdFringe, that was until I saw ABK’s trailer in his #Plus3 interview. Could the show possibly be as awesome? In a word, a word requiring no lengthy preamble or overly-wordy explanation, yes.

This show made me laugh. This show made me think. This show made me want to see ABK again. This show was perfectly timed. This show had nice visuals. This show had something to say and said it well. This show does not want to build a wall. This show does not want to eviscerate our trading relations with our nearest neighbours for the sake of the kind of nostalgia Sammy Johnson was talking about. This show had a beginning which was very good. This show had a middle which was also very good. This show had an end which was not so good in as much as it was an end and, like I say, I want to see more ABK.

nae bad_blue

Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)

Reviewer: Dan Lentell (Seen 17 August)

ALL our +3 (festivals) coverage? Click here!

THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN SUBEDITED

+3 Interview: Patrick Monahan: Started from the Bottom, Now l’m Here

“If the Edinburgh Festival ever stopped, the world would stop too!”

WHO: Patrick Monahan: Comedian performer

WHAT: “Smart and funny observations on a new-found, middle-class lifestyle with ski holidays, through the prism of poor, immigrant, living-in-a-caravan roots. As seen on The One Show (BBC), Fake Reaction (ITV), Celebrity Squares (ITV). ‘Rip-roaringly funny… fun! Another hour would have suited everyone’ ***** (One4Review.co.uk). ‘Hilarious’ ***** (ThreeWeeks). ‘There isn’t a comic quite like him’ ***** (TheNewCurrent.co.uk). ‘Possesses the rare ability to be hilarious without being outrageous’ ***** (ThreeWeeks). ‘Patrick is a Fringe legend and it’s easy to see why’ **** (Daily Mirror).”

WHERE: Gilded Balloon Teviot – Nightclub (Venue 14) 

WHEN: 20:00 (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

I’ve been coming to Edinburgh for the last 15 years but it does feel like I’ve been coming since the 1960’s. I love it here, if the Edinburgh Festival ever stopped, the world would stop too!

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

We’ve adopted a baby maltipoo puppy. This is the first year at the Edinburgh festival that me & my partner have a dog with us at the festival & it’s amazing. The dog is so small my partner sneaks him into shows under the inside of her jacket.

Tell us about your show.

This is a brand new hour of stand up, which is a very personal show. It has plenty of jokes and observations in it, but also a lot of stuff about my poor immigrant working-class background, about my life coming from Iran to the Uk in 1980 and about my modern-day life living with my posh middle-class partner. Something for everyone.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

You’ve got to see “modern Maori quartet: two worlds” what an amazing show full of talented performers, touching stories & their singing voices are in another world.


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+3 Interview: I’m Woman

“It has been an extremely heavy year emotional wise due to the content of the show.”

WHO: Vadim Turcanu: Producer

WHAT: “A true soul-bearing story of an immigrant girl who grew up without her parents and was sexually abused in childhood. This experience led to hard consequences and battles to overcome. In order to leave the past behind and begin a new life stronger then ever before, she needs to face her biggest fears. In a modern, technological world, where we often hide behind masks and feel alone in our personal battles, this show has a mission to connect people, to inspire and empower through vulnerability, sincerity and sharing, accepting ourselves with all our demons and angels.”

WHERE: Sweet Grassmarket – Grassmarket 1 (Venue 18) 

WHEN: Varies (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

This is our first Fringe and first time in Edinburgh. It is an awesome experience – lots of emotions, predominantly scary due to necessity of promotion face to face. Surely the experience is very beneficial in many terms.
Looking forward for a productive festival

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

Since 2018, we wrote and produced the play, premiered it in London and Birmingham, we participated at the AvignonOff 2019 with surprisingly great results – award for the audience vote of choice of theatre and nominated for Prix Tournesol (similar to Sit-Up Award in UK).

It has been an extremely heavy year emotional wise due to the content of the show, which required revealing personal hidden experiences. Needed and was blessed for having the right support during that time – lots of breakdowns. But pushing forward

Tell us about your show.

Ana Daud co-wrote the show with director Dmitry Akrish (one of the ten best contemporary Russian directors), it is her autobiographical play that touches subject we think about but not talk about – relationships, genders, abortion, human traffic.

It is our first Edinburgh appearance but looking forward to coming tours in UK and abroad.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

There are beautiful shows carrying similar social issues and topics that are worth visiting.
Not many artists can handle the pressure of this type of shows because of the emotionally heavy aspect of the subject. So we would love to recommend some of the similar ones:

– The Phoenix Bitch
– TABOO
– The Endless Second
– On the Other Hand, we’re happy
– Brandy Alexander


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“Too Pretty to Punch” (Zoo Southside, until AUG 26 : 13:25 : 60mins)

“This is a tech-heavy, content-rich show, delivered with a light and graceful touch.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars: Outstanding

Walking from EH10 to Zoo venues is a very pleasant experience. For once this rainy auld EdFringe the sun is shining. The people smile and say good morning. The mood music is what would happen if you were to shut Sir Harry Lauder and Ronnie Hazlehurst up together in a telephone booth and not let them out until they’d written something smile-inducingly pleasant. The gentrification wave that swept through EH9 before and after the crash has receded somewhat, but the shops and eateries are busy as well as interesting. Amble further down towards Northbridge and you start feeling as though you’ve arrived in EH91. Friends on the terrace at 86 Princes’ Street have their views, as do pals browsing the shelves at Lighthouse books. If there’s any agreement between them, which is doubtful, they might all conceded that people are less in their own space and more in your face the further from villadom one travels.

In their deeply personal, moving, and thought-provoking polemic, the poet and banjo wielder, Edalia Day, spends the hour describing what it is like to live day-to-day constantly menaced with aggression from randoms, both online and in the street. A lot has gone into this show. A lot of heartache and soul searching, a lot of personal discovery and revelation. “I didn’t escape from one box only to be forced into another.” You come for the social commentary, which is lucid and insightful, you stay for the video-projection, which is (as promised) kickass as well as for the finely tuned performance which shows no sign of flagging as EdFringe enters the home stretch. This is a tech-heavy, content-rich show, delivered with a light and graceful touch.

At a time when transgender voices are finally starting to be heard, it seems amiss to attempt to filter or dilute Edalia Day’s message for them. What I can describe is the effect this show had on this particular cis white male determined to be a strong ally in this generation’s fight for inclusivity, understanding, and respect. I came away having been thoroughly entertained. This is a performer who knows their craft and that, as with all great polemics, it’s not just about the message or the messenger, it’s about the recipient as well.

outstanding

StarStarStarStarStar

Reviewer: Dan Lentell (Seen 16 August)

ALL our +3 (festivals) coverage? Click here!

THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN SUBEDITED

+3 Interview: Late Night Ceremony

“Tinder over there is like a casting book with professionally taken photographs and long, fantastical self-descriptions. I guess the dating circuit is a little legacy piece of Hollywood.”

WHO: Polly Trope: Concepter and Performer

WHAT: “Arising out of Berlin and Hollywood open stages, this group showcase raises a fist with one hand and holds a glass with the other against the fact that the world we live in is a complete disaster. Borders close in, rents rise, intimacy dissolves. One person’s normal is another person’s crazy. Who gets to tell their story and who must remain silent? Embodied performance, experimental music, storytelling and a secret midnight ritual.”

WHERE: theSpace @ Surgeons Hall – Theatre 1
23:15 (Venue 53) 

WHEN: 23:15 (85 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

Yes, first time. I have wanted to get here for years. One of my closest friends from way back when I used to live in London is Bob who runs the Heroes venues. It’s the best crew, they don’t program the standard stuff. They program everything that’s a little bit unusual, cutting-edge, inventive, weird and wonderful, disturbing and special. The sort of genre-bending hybrid stuff that’s incredibly hard to sell to bookers and venues and yet is a well of magic. That’s what I always want to see, as a performer, that’s where I get my inspiration.

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

For my winter vacation, I went to Los Angeles I wanted winter sun, beaches, dying palm trees, and bleach blondes falling over dripping cocktails. And to walk up and down Hollywood Boulevard and into WeHo and to walk in the circles of my literary heroes, Tony O’Neill, Gerry Stahl and people like that. So as I was idly day-drinking and star-spotting, I went on Tinder.

Tinder over there is like a casting book with professionally taken photographs and long, fantastical self-descriptions. I guess the dating circuit is a little legacy piece of Hollywood.

I quickly realized that I would have to adapt my profile because in Berlin people just write one or two laconic sentences, such as “no tourists” — so I went and wrote a whole big story about myself. I didn’t have any good pictures to put, though. Which was probably for the best, so people had to read me.

I met this guy on Hollywood Boulevard and we decided to get spicy food. I thought I’d get a nice inside scoop from a local but instead, I got the relationship of a lifetime.

I went back to LA with one of my Berlin performance arts friends who inspires me the most. They were doing a US tour and I was kind of the support act, reading a story or two. And you should have seen us in Hollywood, we ended up in a space at a midnight show in a strip mall where they were showcasing improv comedy; and I thought oh my god people are going to laugh at us and be like WTF. But they loved us. It was quite incredible. We couldn’t have been more “the odd ones out” but somehow… we found a common thread, a common little piece of a big networked jigsaw of the world of trying to do art while you live and travel with your art and see what happens abroad–very adventurous.

That’s why I put together our showcase now, after a year, the collective is called BERLNGELES…

Tell us about your show.

It’s a late-night show. It’s performance art, tribal music, all our own new writing. Four performers come together to take on the idea of a late-night ritual. What do people do late at night, ritually?

We have a 14-year-old zombie child actor from Hollywood; a sex work memoir author from Berlin; one musical writer from Hollywood who will perform on the looper; and a Berlin-based transgender performance poet, who puts the noise back in opera.

The Berlingeles four each have their own body of work and harrowing back story; the appearance in Edinburgh is a one-off Rubick’s cube of late-night sexual healing, gender magic, and emotional release.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

I’m really looking forward to Andrea Spisto’s “Butch Princesa”. It’s billed as a comedic exploration of Latinx queer identity and I know it will use Venezuelan dance and beats to underpin a much bigger, deeper inquiry and romp through experiences of queerness and migration, gender expectations and critical theory, a mix of playfulness and deep perspective. I love these things that don’t seem to fit into any exact mould because you know then, that is something new in the making.

Also Michelle Madsen’s show “Bait: Kill the Princess” is a treat I am mega looking forward to. It mixes clowning with spoken word, and counter-intuitive treatments of expectation and belief playing with themes of fairy tale and embodied performance. I can’t wait to see this because it promises the mixed forms and mash-up feel that I really love and I also know Michelle is a very accomplished performer and writer. And lately, I am discovering the wealth and breadth of subversive and wildly interesting things that actually hide behind the label “clowning”. A lot more than meets the eye and audiences should take note.


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+3 Interview: Alasdair Beckett-King: The Interdimensional ABK

“Spending time at the Edinburgh Fringe is like navigating an M.C. Escher lithograph with extremely changeable weather.”

WHO: Alasdair Beckett-King

WHAT: “The award-winning Alasdair Beckett-King returns to this timeline with a dimension-hopping stand-up comedy show. Is a better world possible? Yes! It already exists, but you don’t live there. ABK makes the best of a bad timeline in this ramshackle jaunt through a multiverse of wonders. Also, Winston Churchill performs the best of Queen. ‘A singular and truly distinct act, Alasdair Beckett-King creates his own multi-faceted world’ **** (Scotsman). ‘Alasdair Beckett-King is a nice man’ ***** (EdFestMag). ‘This is a comedy show’ **** (One4Review). **** (Fest) **** (Voice) **** (Three Weeks).”

WHERE: Pleasance Dome – JackDome (Venue 23) 

WHEN: 18:50 (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

Spending time at the Edinburgh Fringe is like navigating an M.C. Escher lithograph with extremely changeable weather. Contorted bridges and impossible staircases thronged with clowns, silent discos, acapella singers and student impro troupes going through a difficult time in their personal lives. A happy comedian, a sad comedian, a bitter comedian – in many cases this is the same comedian. But there are so many things to look forward to. You can walk up Arthur’s Seat with Londoners who insist on calling it “a mountain”. You can adopt an Edinburgh accent and give inaccurate directions to American tourists. You can get baked potatoes with vegan haggis on Cockburn Street. It’s a veritable wonderland, and I love it.

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

Since 2018 I have started to learn lock-picking, which is bound to pay dividends at some point. I also created an animated intro to my show in the style of 1980s cartoons. It took most of ‘18/19 to do, because I tried to make the pastiche as authentic as possible, and because I don’t value my own time highly enough. But it worked out nicely, because the video was shared by other comedians who I love and admire, and the British Comedy Guide said it might be “the best 100 seconds of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.”

I mean, the show is currently over 3300 seconds long. But an endorsement’s an endorsement, right?

Tell us about your show.

The Interdimensional ABK is a stand-up comedy show written (and animated) by me. I’ve done work in progresses at festivals all over the UK, and I hope I’ll get to do it f a few times after the Fringe. The premise is something I’ve been working on for a little while: I come from a parallel dimension called the A Timeline which is slightly better than the B Timeline (AKA, the real world). So, I get to make jokes about all the best and worst things in our world, from an outsider’s perspective. So, there’s silliness, whimsy, and absolutely several proper jokes. We’re talking double figures, easy.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

I think people should try to see a variety of shows. Stroll up and down Cowgate and see if any of the flyers take your fancy. As well as the massive venues, see shows on the Free Fringe, at the Stand and the Monkey Barrel. I also love a bit of Lothian Gothic, so I recommend a Ghost Walk around Greyfriar’s Kirkyard and a visit to the Camera Obscura on Castlehill. Finally, I have to recommend a small vegan-friendly pizza place called Novapizza in the New Town. Vegan pizza is everywhere these days, you can get it at bus stops, you can get it on the NHS. But Novapizza were making it when no one else was. They’re pioneers in the art of pretend-o cheese. True heroes. Shows I would recommend people to see? Jon Long: Planet Killing Machine.


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