Aug 23 2019 | By More

★★★☆☆    Fails to soar

Udderbelly George Square (Venue 300): Thurs 1 – Mon 26 Aug 2019
Review by Irene Brown

Two well established Edinburgh based companies working in physical performance, All or Nothing Aerial Dance Theatre and Room 2 Manoeuvre, bring their new family show about superheroes to this year’s Fringe.

Powerful beats from Bowie’s Heroes and Bonnie Tyler’s I Need a Hero ramp up the atmosphere as the auditorium that is Udderbelly, better known as the Big Purple Cow, fills up for Heroes. Using toy figures of Batman and Superman, performers Beverley Grant and Tony Mills, dressed in generic soft clothes, channel children at play. And what child hasn’t tied a jacket round their neck and careered around pretending to be their favourite superhero?

Tony Mills. Pic: Brian Hartley

To the heroic Superman theme tune from the iconic 1978 film – that made you really believe a man could fly – Beverley Grant starts making moves as a child would pretending to be the Man of Steel. But as the hour proceeds, the connection between the show’s title and what happens on stage becomes more tenuous and Heroes seems more like a flimsy platform to display what are clearly well-honed physical talents of the performers.

Rambert School of Ballet and aerialist trained dancer, Grant, brings her considerable and, to an untrained eye, well-nigh flawless skills to her impressive aerial and stunning hoop work. Her consummate abilities are doubly proven when she acts the bumbling contortionist on a suspended hoop. She joins Mills, who also choreographs and directs with Jennifer Paterson, in graceful balletic and acrobatic moves during the performance.

Tony Mills and Beverley Grant. Pic: Brian Hartley

The section using some spotlight fun works well but the introduction of a series of masks of famous people, that some might regard as heroes, adds little to this already weak and bitty narrative. Bringing a blow-up version of a famous boxer is a good example of well observed physical theatre from Mills containing the message that you should never meet your heroes. Greater use of elements like these would lift the action by bringing the humour and levity that is essential to a show aimed at children.

Despite the large frame required for the aerial work, Heroes feels too small for the big purple tent. A smaller venue and even a slightly shorter time slot would allow concentration on what this pair do best – dance and aerial. The disjointed nature of the narrative feels like a distraction to the core talent brought by Grant and Mills. Making Heroes the opposite of Kerpow.

Running time: One hour (no interval)
Udderbelly, George Square EH8 9LH (Venue 300)
Thursday 1 – Monday 26 August 2019
Daily, not Mon 12: 3pm.
Tickets and details: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/heroes

All or Nothing Aerial Dance Theatre:
Website: https://www.aerialdance.co.uk
Twitter: @AllorNothingADT
Facebook: @AllorNothingADT
Room 2 Manoeuvre:
Website: http://r-2-m.net
Twitter: @room2manoeuvre
Facebook: @room2manoeuvre

Tony Mills and Beverley Grant. Pic: Brian Hartley


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.