Spiegeltent, St Andrew Square, Edinburgh
What happens in a bar after-hours stays in a bar after-hours. Unless,
that is, the late-night action is immortalised and worked up into an
hour-long routine by a troupe of alt-circus performers who resemble
extras from a Tom Waits song. This is the case here, as Australia's
Company 2 transform drinking games into gymnastics in the Underbelly's
flagship show for Edinburgh's Christmas 2014 programme.
A quintet of acrobats accompanied by the equally five-strong Crusty
Suitcase Band introduce the audience into a speak-easy atmosphere with
a fanfare that moves between rag-time and bump n' grind. Things start
off simple enough with a set of what looks like party tricks, as sole
female member of the ensemble Chelsea McGuffin takes a walk across some
upright champagne bottles.
The elaborately bearded Mozes indulges in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it
full-frontal flash before embarking on a far more impressive solo
trapeze act. His colleagues do hand-stands on towered-up crates and
bicycles circling the stage, or else fling either themselves or Ms
McGuffin through the air for a dexterously co-ordinated display.
With the band barely letting up their brass-laden cacophony, what is
revealed beyond the show's loose-knit narrative is essentially a set of
extended indoor busking routines writ large and honed into a bite-size
cabaret. The most charming moment of the entire hour of this European
premiere comes not from assorted physical jerks, but from creatures
more accustomed to being in flight.
Because when the lights dim on the Spiegeltent auditorium and McGuffin
pitches a tent and opens a suitcase as three very tame birds perch on a
music stand before flapping about, it has a natural gravity which even
the high-flying finale can't match.
The Herald, November 28th 2014