Every year I head through to Edinburgh for a day or two during the madness of the festival season. Ostensibly I’m there to catch up with my friends as one of them works at the Tattoo every year, and it’s a good excuse to enjoy some beers and random fringe shows on his day off.
And so it was that we came to find ourselves heading to Underbelly to watch Knightmare Live. Remember Knightmare? The ITV kids show that followed the young adventurers on their quests.
Where am I? You are in a room.
I wasn’t an ardent fan of Knightmare but I remember the basic premise of it; one adventurer is in the ‘map’ (think Dungeons and Dragons style scenarios) with an opaque helmet on, they are then guided through each impenetrable stage by their team mates who are watching everything unfold thanks to some (back then) state of the art computer graphics.
That’s about all you needed to know to watch the Live show which, as it’s on during the fringe, has a more grown-up attitude. The adventurer is plucked from a list of volunteers in the audience, and the team mates are two comedians drafted in to help. Whilst it has the same basic structure, it pulls on improv and whilst I was skeptical going in I thoroughly enjoyed it in all its silly glory. This is not high-brow entertainment, but that’s part of the fun of the fringe, especially when they craft a costume back stage based on audience suggestions for a fearsome monster… which turned out to be a mushroom picking spider (it was funnier than it sounds!).
After that we partook of some more light beverages then made our way down to the circus stage and – after bumping into some friends because Scotland really is that small a place – we took our (ahem comp’d) seats for Acéléré by Circolombia. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but what was delivered was a writhing, muscular, sensuous display of high flying acrobatics and salsa driven funk. Utterly captivating performances, with some spellbinding artistic moments, it was a corker of a show throughout which the audience, myself included, was frequently heard gasping in astonishment and making ‘ohhhh my god no they aren’t going to do that….’ noises.
Whether flying through the air in a tumbling mass of limbs, slowly spiralling high above our heads on pieces of rope, or slowly raising and contorting themselves around a large metal frame that was balancing on someone else’s head, each different act held us rapt. It’s a rare fringe show that can make an hour pass so quickly, letting us forget our numb bums and crammed limbs, but I lost all sense of time whilst we watched in awe at these beautiful, strong, and graceful individuals who all seemed to have as much fun in-between the acts as they salsa’d across the stage, as they were serious and focused when it came to performing their own feats.
Their standing ovation was both prompt, heartfelt, and very very well earned. Definitely not your average circus acrobatics show!