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Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Now Leasing

Lea McGowan (USA)

Genre: Ballet

Venue: C venues - C nova


Low Down

"Featuring rebel ballerina Lea McGowan, this single-lady-spectacular for all ages merges circus elements, dance, aerial acrobatics, physical theatre and comedy. Lea (pronounced with no ‘uh’) weaves a delightful tale sharing true to life struggles and imaginary musings. Universal-Lea appealing, with funny parodies of pop phenomena and vivid human transformations into mystical beings, this show is full of surprises proving that anything is possible. Now Leasing shows how to explore space, connect and delight in the present moment – all within one hiliarious-Lea fun experience. An enchanting new piece designed to entertain, engage and inspire."


Lea McGowan takes Edinburgh by the horns through a pacy, intelligent and often witty performance. She makes the space her own, taking her audience through a semi-autobiographical choreographed narrative revealing much about herself as a performer and as a person.


McGowen enters in the guise of a much older self. She had been out and about in the venue beforehand so bent and frail I had avoided her in case old age was catching. This cursory introduction forms a chrysalis from which a subtle butterfly emerges to beautify a hot house space. Costume changes form a major part of this rebel ballerina’s set. The very practical application of all that artistic effort might be taken as a dextrous slap in the face directed towards the movement establishment.


The central narrative of Now Leasing is not always easy to follow, sometimes this show is downright odd, but it is so personal, so true, that as a whole it is a very successful hour. What is missing is a more creative use of sound, something to complement McGowen’s soft (sometimes too soft) but none-the-less skillfully ranged and targeted voice. It is all very pleasing on the eye and ear. We progress from childhood to adolescence with dance as the constant thread.


The show is marketed as being universally appealing although very young audiences may not thank you for skipping something with pirates and dinosaurs in order to catch it. My companion is a sentimental storysmith in town with an old fashioned romcom. He said he wanted something different and he got it. The undoubted high point being the sapphic unicorns procreating as in a forest glade.


There is a certain Edinburgh debating club which meets in a set of rooms in Old College during the winter months. Essays are presented each night by one of the members on anything and everything under the sun. It is understood that the greatest faux pas occurs when the night’s essay is an overly blatant rework of an old university or college project. At moments Now Leasing came very close to falling into that elephant trap. A talented, lively and personable performer was at times lost amid all the flawless showcasing which might delight a panel of professors but which might lose an audience of Fringe goers.


The show is at its strongest when McGowen is freest of the weight of expectation and tradition so often felt by highly trained physical theatre makers. Now Leasing is a Marmite experience, you either love it or you hate it. I loved it but I didn’t always understand it. It’s a show that pirouettes across artistic and personal boundaries. We are left with the sense of an artist who has struggled to find her voice but having done so is ready to take it to another level entirely. It is not always a comfortable experience but few shows can hold a candle to Now Leasing’s combination of energy and power to captivate.


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