Some Early Festival Highlights

Gala openings or press launches are a chance for venues to showcase some highlights from their program. These are shows from which a spectacular, colourful or funny five minute segment can be lifted and as such are more likely to be cabaret, circus, dance or comedy rather than theatre. This early in the festival audiences are still relatively engaged and spritely before most of us become too jaded by working crazy festival hours, repeatedly performing the same material or seeing seven shows a day to be enthusiastic about anything.

This year I was lucky enough to attend the launches for Assembly, The Pleasance and Big Sexy Circus City. These recommendations are based on what the venue chose to showcase and the short sections of each show that I saw, and so the list is by no means an exhaustive list of what each venue has to offer.

Big Sexy Circus City – Wings in My Heart by Rigolo Circus

This Swiss circus is described as a “world beating game changer” in their description in the Fringe guide and from what I saw I’d agree. There’s nothing cheesy about this stunning, classy company featuring a cast made up of former Cirque du Soleil artists. I have never seen anything quite like the Sanddorn Balance, in which the performer builds a giant structure out of thirteen palm ribs with a feather balanced on the end.

More information on Wings in My Heart

A girl balances a feather on palm fronds

Assembly- Traces

A Canadian collective of acrobats who tumble through hoops and leap over each other’s heads in spectacular fashion. The fact that they had to attempt certain tricks twice before they succeeded only made the audience cheer for them even harder. The full show contains elements of storytelling alongside the acrobatics.

More information on Traces

An acrobat flies through a hoop
Traces at Assembly. Photo by David Monteith-Hodge

Assembly- Le Gateau Chocolat:Black

Festival favourite and cabaret legend Le Gateau Chocolat is presenting an intimate show about his battle with depression.

More on Le Gateau Chocolat’s Black

Le Gateau Chocolat with his pianist
Le Gateau Chocolat at Assembly Photo by David Monteith-Hodge

Assembly – 360 All Stars

An international cast of urban performers including world champion breakdancers and the two time World Champion BMX Flatlander feature in this celebration of street culture. We saw a snippet where an internationally acclaimed basketball freestyler built up to bouncing five basketballs at once to a live hip hop soundtrack. A good one for teenagers.

More information on 360 All Stars

A man juggles four basketballs while another man djs
360 All Stars at Assembly. Photo by David Monteith-Hodge

The Pleasance- Jess Robinson: The Rise of Mighty Voice

And what a voice. Performing a medley of artists ranging from Kylie Minogue to Lily Allen to Judy Garland, Robinson with her incredibly versatile and powerful voice convincingly impersonates them all. The two wheels that make up the game “The Wheels of Sixty-Four Tunes” look like they were made in an arts and crafts class. One contains pictures of eight celebrities and the other features eight well known songs. Spinning both together will give one of sixty four possible combinations that Robinson and her counterpart on the keyboard Kirsty Newton have to perform. We were blessed with the delights of Lana Del Ray singing Postman Pat and Julie Andrews singing All About That Bass.

More information on Jess Robinson

Jess Robinson performs
Jess Robinson at Pleasance. Photo by David Monteith-Hodge

The Pleasance – Balletronic

Sexy dancers from Cuba dancing to Sam Smith and Daft Punk. What more could you ask for?

More about Balletronic

Two dancers perform in Balletronic
Balletronic at Pleasance. Photo by David Monteith-Hodge

All photos by David Monteith-Hodge/ Photographise

See The Edinburgh Fringe website for the full program