*originally written for This Is Cabaret
With Edinburgh Fringe Festival gearing up for its final week, the Swedish production of ‘Awake’ is just arriving in town, to add to the healthy menu of circus-based fare this year’s festival is offering. Now seems an appropriate time to run through your options if you haven’t yet sampled the range of flavours available.
‘Awake’ is presented through the C-Venues stable, and follows a trend of narrative thread circus theatre that runs through other C-Venues shows from Japanese company Cheeky*Park, (in their cynical appraisal of a life devoted to work, ‘Company Man’,) and the UK’s Strung Up Theatre (in an aerial take on a literary classic, ‘Chaucer Strung Up: The Franklin’s Tale’).
Homegrown Scottish company Voice Box also draws from the classics with ‘Grendel’, in their acrobatic infused production at theSpace, based on the fearsome Beowulf monster.
Circus arts in a variety format are on offer at C-Venues as well, with ‘Now Leasing’ from USA’s solo performer Lea McGovern (pronounced with no ‘uh’). For circus cabaret on a grander scale, check out the classy La Clique, comic Slightly Fat Features, or Australian boylesque troupe Briefs: The Second Coming.
Australia are easily the most prominent circus providers at Edinburgh 2013, with absurdist ‘Fight or Flight’, from award winning new ensemble 3 is a Crowd, critically acclaimed ‘A Simple Space’ from Gravity and Other Myths, and virtuosic ‘Knee Deep’ from Casus.
Not forgetting, of course, international giants Circa, with their packed out performances of sexy, stunning ‘Wunderkammer’ at the Underbelly.
Britain’s own big-time big-toppers, NoFit State Circus, are also in town with not one, but two, of their contemporary circus creations. In their trademark silver tent is the powerful promenade experience of ‘Bianco’, and at the New Town Theatre we share their first venture into traditional theatre spaces with the colourful and crazy ‘Noodles’.
Another world class British production comes from Gandini Juggling, who (alongside NoFit’s ‘Bianco’) form part of this year’s British Council Showcase with ‘Smashed’. Rather than combining numerous disciplines as classic circus does, this company has made a name for itself through dedication to the art of juggling alone, and its theatrical potential as a unique discipline.
Juggling is also a major component of ‘Tangram’, which fuses Stefan Sing’s wonderful juggling prowess with Cristiana Casadio’s classical dance training, in a representation of human relationships.
Another production that sits on-trend, with innovative development of a particular circus skill, is ‘Leo’, returning to the fringe for the third time with mind-boggling ‘anti-gravity’ acrobatic skill.
Production company Crying Out Loud bring a selection of circus artists to the Fringe, some of whose skills have developed into something completely fresh – such as Jeanne Mordoj’s fascinating exploration of the female body in ‘La Poème’, and Phia Ménard’s Company Non Nova, with their beautiful elemental manipulation in ‘l’Après-midi d’un Foehn’. Meanwhile, fresh UK company Pirates of the Carabina test classical circus expectations in ‘Flown’, whilst retaining a strong connection to their traditional roots.
An honourable mention also for Lost Dog Dance, who bring their circus-inspired double-bill ‘It Needs Horses & Home for Broken Turns’, where circus acts become the theme rather than the form.
And finally, completely unconnected to the Fringe, but playing in Edinburgh until 25th August, are classic big top Circus Vegas at the Meadowbank playing fields. If the 60 minute slots (give or take 10) of the Fringe programme only whet your appetite, you’ll be able to catch a full 2 act show with interval here!