EdFringe day 4 – Wild adventures in Circus Land

Aug 17 2012 | By More

Cbeebies’ Andy, Leith Circus, a disappointing Doctor and a Grads triumph

CBeebies Andy and Mike

Andy and Mike – publicity photograph

By Thom Dibdin

Today is a Fringe Family day in which Emily, our daughter Cora (four and a half) and I get to see a couple of shows together. Normally we go our separate ways, so this is a real treat.

First up we have Andy and Mike’s… Tick Tock Time Machine. Andy is Andy Day off the telly – CBeebies – where he is one of their continuity bods and he has a bizarre show called Andy’s Wild Adventures, in which he and a cat zoom off into Blue Screen Land and investigate all sorts of wild situations.

Today, he and his comedy partner Mike James have no such technical expertise to back them up, but they still manage to go back in time, forward in time, dress up a lot, get a mum and a dad in the audience to dress up a lot, do lots of silly dances and generally entertain the kids.

It’s no surprise that Andy and Mike used to have a comedy double act by the name of Annie and Fannie – at least according to their website.

The show is great and a big hit with its audience, but there is a huge amount going on. So much so that it feels as if they have a good 90 minutes of material for their one hour slot. The set is pretty wobbly too. Which in itself is not a bad thing, but it is just too pernickety, there are too many bits and pieces to hang up and position every time a bit of time travel is carried out. It would work in a TV studio, but on a stage it needs to be a lot slicker.

Then it is down to Leith for the Edinburgh International Circus Festival and two hours of traditional clowning, acrobats and up-in-the-air heart-stopping stuff. It’s a strange show to see as part of the Fringe, but it’s in the programme, so there you are.

Vote gulled

The whole show is run as a competition between the acts for the audience vote. Tony, the friendly press officer, says that they originally had a clap-o-meter affair, to measure the volume of the audience applause at the finale. Which worked fine but, because it was up in the roof, the volume levels got distorted by the cries of the seagulls on the top of the Big Top. So they have to hand out tick-sheets to the audience instead. Pesky gulls!

The competition format works well, allowing for a touch of the Olympic spirit to enter proceedings: the national flag of each act is paraded when they come out. And they are all very good. Cora loves it all, despite being pretty sophisticated when it comes to her theatre. She chomps away on candy floss, ogles the bright lights and laughs at the clowns.

Emily and I are more impressed by the high acts. A silk act is nicely balletic, although not the best I have ever seen. Top of the bill though, is a Wheel of Death. A new act for me and pretty stunning it is too.

Wheel of Death, Circus, Leith

The Wheel of Death in action. Photo © Thom Dibdin

The “wheel” is actually a long piece of framework, suspended above the floor of the Big Top. At the each end there is a huge hollow cross-section of pipe, tall enough to stand up inside. A couple of guys come out and push on the circle pieces, to make the whole thing rotate, then they jump inside them. The whole thing keeps going round and round, with them running round their wheels like gerbils in a cage. Except their wheels are rising 40 feet into the air.

Great stuff. But then one of them grabs the edge and hauls himself out of his wheel to stand on the outside – walking round it like you might walk along on a barrel. As the whole contraption turns, when he gets to the top, his momentum keeps him on going, although what he is walking on falls away beneath him. And he falls through the air, landing back on top of the wheel when it has gone all of a quarter turn.

And if that weren’t enough, on one of the turns he puts his foot over the side, as if he slipped and was going to fall.

After that, you would have thought the Scottish diablo performer would have had difficulty keeping attention. But he not only had the skill but the stage presence and a well-enough structured set, to get everyone on side.

The day finished off with a couple of shows thanks to the Grads. Their Doctor Faustus was not their finest hour, sadly, although I have reports that it got a lot better in the week. But Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us was a great production of a play that is not the best ever. Both are reviewed elsewhere on the blog.


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