Assembly George Square Spiegeltent, Edinburgh Fringe Festival; 5th August 2014
This year the Speigeltent in George Square Gardens is taken over in a glorious send-up of everything we love about rock’n’roll, served by the four talented performers of Pants Down Circus, from Melbourne.
Similarly to other Australian do-it-all miniature troupes that have visited the UK in recent years, Hannah Cryle, Joshua Phillips, Idris Stanton and Caz Walsh are genuinely multi-skilled, and present nothing that they can’t execute with attitude and finesse. They’re here to give us a good time, and they’re clearly enjoying every minute too, revelling in the limelight and sharing their buzz.
An expertly edited soundtrack features classics from the likes of Bon Jovi, Guns’n’Roses, and Aerosmith that segue seamlessly throughout the show, and costumes are perfectly detailed in red, black and silver, emblazoned with band logos and flashes of punk-tartan.
Walsh’s tiny stature and cute face don’t hinder her inner rock goddess as she is swung around by the others, precise and with beautiful form. She builds to a stack of four cylinders for her energetic rola-bola act, and postures with bad-boy Phillips during a short but sharp acrobalance duo (while Stanton and Cryle make sure they maintain the correct superstar image, providing endless pairs of sunglasses, and a wind machine – who knew a leaf-blower could be so entertaining?!).
Stanton is a natural figure of fun in his 80’s hair metal wig, and reminds me of a passage from a book I’ve just been reading about Santus Circus: ‘His understanding of clown was someone who could juggle, tumble, play an instrument, improvise, mime. Clowning to him was a meticulous, complicated form of artistic expression, not an icon on a perpetual loop of hamburger sales.’ Stanton certainly has an interesting range of object manipulation skills and, together with Cryle, presents the most hilarious version of Bohemian Rhapsody I’ve ever seen, parodying all our favourite rocker conventions (and a few circus ones too).
Cryle manages to work a German Wheel within the limited confines of the Spiegeltent stage, and Phillips shows his dynamic mastery of the balance ladder. The fast-moving finaleé act of doubles trapeze from Cryle and Walsh is excellent, with beats and tricks perfectly in time to the music, including an impressive drop into an ankles to ankles catch.
I’m unable to stop myself singing and clapping along throughout, and we end on a real high. Pants Down Circus does what it says on the tin. It rocks!