Edinburgh Christmas Showtime: Limbo Circus comes to town

The Limbo ensemble

The Limbo ensemble

Circus is defined as “ a travelling company of acrobats, clowns and trained animals which gives performances typically in a large tent, in a series of different places”. 

From chariot races in Ancient Rome arenas to Barnum and Chipperfield, the perennial appeal of death-defying circus acts has evolved into spectacular contemporary entertainment: Le Grand Cirque Fantazie, La Clique, Cirque du Soleil.

LIMBO sold out its premiere season at the Adelaide Fringe Festival 2013, (Pick of the Fringe Award),  travelling on to the London Wonderground Festival and has now arrived at Edinburgh’s Winter Wonderland.  (22 November 2013 – 4 January 2014).  The Circus is back in town at the 1920s Paradiso Spiegeltent,  St. Andrew’s Square, Edinburgh.

Step into Limboland to witness an extravaganza of  funky music, exotic cabaret, acrobatics, mime and magical illusion.  The international ensemble combine traditional circus skills and musical talents from the US, Russia, Australia, Canada and France.

In the dimly lit, intimate theatre space of the vintage Spiegeltent, let’s get the party started with the suitably soulful music of Sxip Shirey’s brass band: an eclectic tuba-rocking blend of New Orleans jazz, hip hop, blues and a hint of John Cage, described as Jank.  Think Tiger Lillies with swagger and swing and you’ll get the picture.

The show is in essence a series of variety acts – acrobatics, aerial trapeze, comedy, dance, music and song.  First a performance of sheer physical agility: Jonathan Nosan bends his body as if made of rubber, creating mind blowing positions a professional yogi would be unable to achieve.

Jonathan Nosan, contortionist

Jonathan Nosan, contortionist

Danik Abishev began learning his hand balancing act from the age of four in his Russian family’s circus. With perfect poise, he jumps from pole to pole upside down on his hands, requiring exceptional muscular strength.

Danik Abishev

Danik Abishev

New York artiste, Heather Holliday was the youngest female sword swallower in the world when she trained at Coney Island Circus.  Watching her (tentatively through my fingers!) put a flaming torch into her mouth, almost licking the fire, was breathtaking. Swallowing a sword was unbelievable – was it a trick with a retractable blade.?  Presumably it was for real.

Heather Holliday, daring acts with fire and swords
Heather Holliday, daring acts with fire and swords

Frenchman Mikael Bres has mastered the Chinese pole, clambering up like a monkey and sliding down head first at speed. Extraordinary choreography next for  a stunning acrobatic dance:  three men harnessed to bending poles, swing back and forward in quick succession, missing each other by inches.

This Cabaret-Circus of slick star turns moves on apace: a classic bowler hat & walking stick tap dance routine, comedic mime sketch and a terrifying act of Illusion which, I guarantee, will make you gasp.

Despite the show’s title there is no narrative to dramatise the Limbo world between heaven and hell in a theatrical context.  This is pure showmanship, burlesque glamour, dare devil bravado, linked by the energetic rhythm of crazy music from Ringmaster Sxip Shirey and his versatile Band.

NB. Seating is around the stage in booths and rows: Ringside, Posh, Stalls, Cheap.  Sitting at the back on my Cheap seat, sightlines were poor with a Spiegeltent pillar blocking the view = a cricked neck straining to see the stage!

Reserve Ringside or Posh seats for the best close up experience.   For a Christmas party night, book dinner and show in a private booth.



Paradiso Spiegeltent

Paradiso Spiegeltent

About vivdevlin

I am an international travel writer, specialising in luxury travel, hotels, restaurants, city guides, cruises, islands, train and literary-inspired journeys. I review dance and theatre, Arts Festivals and love the visual arts. I have just experienced an epic voyage, circumnavigating the globe, following in the wake of Captain Cook, Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson.

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