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Edinburgh Fringe 2022

Circus Abyssinia: Tulu

Underbelly and Bibi and Bichu Ltd

Genre: Circus, International

Venue: Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows


Low Down

A dazzling display of speed, skill and flight lands in Edinburgh this summer, celebrating the first African woman to win Olympic gold. Inspired by the true tale of an Ethiopian icon, Derartu Tulu, this unmissable showcase of superhuman strength blends breathtaking contortion, awe-inspiring acrobatics and mesmerising fire juggling with a rocking, exuberant soundtrack.


Starting with a celebration of runner – Ethiopian icon Deratu Tulu, the first African woman to win Olympic gold, the suspense and joy is exciting and the energy continues through to the last minute of the show.

Vibrant music, a variety of acrobatics acts and a joyous warmth envelope you during this show.

The focus is on physical skills based on acrobatic moves in every way possible. The cast

wearing green and red welcome us with exuberant music and dancing, then this transitions smoothly to a contortionist solo, she is super bendy and folds and unfolds her spine and limbs in astounding moves.

A group of five rock forward to dynamic music throwing each other in the air doing backflips and twists and balancing while one stands on the shoulders of another. Joined by the contortionist who stands carefully balanced on each other’s shoulders in a pyramid of three people high. Next up is a roller skating duo, they skate fast doing daring lifts on a small platform – when they do their most daring move the audience gasps…and applauds loudly!

Transitions between each act are seamless, and the fast pace continues throughout the show.

Lighting in rich colours and a spotlight are very effective adding to the atmosphere. The music

throughout keeps the energy and stirs the emotions – a mix of African beats that get under

the skin with contemporary sounds.

A highlight is a solo hand balancing performer. Dressed in black and silver, under purple light he defies gravity as he balances upside down on both arms, then one arm, while doing the splits while he is upside down. He makes it look so easy but this takes years to master and he is sublime to watch. The mysterious music accompanying this acts builds the suspense and deserved big applause, this artist is truly spectacular.

An acrobatic team jump athletically through circles placed at different levels. The colourful costumes, energy of all of these performers and how they take time to relate to the audience during their act is wonderful. A fire juggling duo are really appreciated for the skills and visual imagery. And a big group set up a huge swing and the audience is transfixed as they swing high and begin to jump off in progressively higher and more difficult landings. This is thrilling and well received by all.

What is special about this circus is that these performers are inviting us into their house with such generosity and warmth that we reciprocate with loud appreciation. Performers are in the moment, enjoying what they do – and it’s infectious. You will come out of this show feeling the joyous rhythm of the music all the way home!