‘Atomic Saloon Show’, by Spiegelworld

Review from: Assembly George Square Gardens, Edinburgh Festival Fringe; 7th August 2019

I had So Much Fun at this show! That’s all I really want to write. I had SO MUCH FUN! But I know that wouldn’t be doing justice to the the excellent cast of performers, the slick and silly design, or the sophisticated, irreverent, comic direction of Cal McCrystal that all combine to make the vulgar narrative cabaret that is Atomic Saloon Show come to life.

The framing story is a loose – in all senses of the word – take on Cinderella, set in a Wild West brothel. The archetypal characters are as broadly drawn as they are hilariously written and performed. This is not a show for the easily offended, but feels like a safe space to laugh at all the things we would never dare to out in the real world. Our madame is Boozy Skunkton, – the superb Petra Massey – who hollers her way through a raucous succession of nutty visitors that roll through her saloon doors, while running through the requisite multiple costume changes for a cabaret hostess and getting to literal grips with friendly members of the audience. The priest (‘Garry Starr’ clown Damien Warren-Smith) and nuns (notably ping-pong ball juggler Fouzia ‘Fofo’ Raquez) may nominally have shown up to cleanse the parlour of its sins but of course they can’t help joining in the fun and naughtiness too.

At first glance, rhinestone clad guitar player Blue (Colin Cahill) might be named for his innocent-looking eyes, but when he starts to serenade us we realise it’s more likely for his song lyrics. Which, in no time at all, we find ourselves singing along to, having barely recovered from the – again, quite literal – bun fight that opens proceedings.

There’s pole work that combines shiny and Chinese pole techniques from Alina Shpynova, or spinning and aerial pole from Davide Zongoli; hand balancing from Pavel Stankevich on canes taller than he is; super-fast hula hoop manipulations from Ailona; aerial straps from Jerome Simard… My favourite skills routine though is the Irish clog dancing of Peter Harding and Suzanne Cleary, especially when they turn it up a notch and manage to recreate the dance form with their hands on an amplified tabletop. Apparently they have a YouTube following for their art, but I’ve never seen anything like it before!

This new Spiegelworld show has been created to take up residency in Las Vegas, following the company’s success there with Absinthe. It’s amazing to see so many artists from the British Isles involved, and to see work of this polished quality being created in the UK. Sadly, it looks like present Brexit politics may hold up future developments in this area for a while, as producer Ross Mollison has been explaining to The Guardian.

Atomic Saloon Show is the most laugh-out-loud fun I’ve had at any of my Fringe shows this year. I know from experience the Vegas prices aren’t cheap, so catch it here while you can.

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