Children’s circus shows at Edinburgh Fringe 2019

Whilst we were able to fit in a handful of this year’s kid’s shows for full-length reviews, some of the others that we’ve covered before or weren’t able to squidge in earlier have been compiled in this run down…

Chores, by Hoopla Clique at Assembly George Square Gardens. For ages 3 – 10

We join two mischievous brothers in bright dungarees and matching red shoes in their messy bedroom. A voice over tells them that if they can tidy it up in time, then they will be allowed to ride their bicycle. We watch them as they reluctantly get to work, with plenty of silly distractions to negotiate along the way. This fun-packed show is full of energy and the performers make sure that we are with them every step of the way. There is acrobatics, juggling, cyr wheel, unicycling and plenty of cartoon-like slapstick which delights the children. The interactive elements are all done really well; they run up and down the aisles, spray us with water and even have stuffed toys on hand to pacify any baby that starts crying. The pantomime gags are predictable but the children lap it up, and love pointing out their clumsy mishaps. The circus skills involved mean that the adults that bring the children are engaged too, gasping at hairy moments and joining in with the infectious laughter. This show is bright and visual for younger children and funny and cool for those at the older end of the recommended range. A perfect family show for the Fringe. RB.

Hotel Paradiso, by Lost In Translation Circus at Underbelly Circus Hub (Beauty). For ages 4-12

The stage is set in a hotel in trouble. The staff are given 24 hours to come up with some money to save the hotel, or they will be evicted. The show is visually pleasing with a satisfying red and white aesthetic but the plot leaves a lot to be desired. The narrative doesn’t quite fit together and we are left confused about what exactly is happening. Luckily the larger than life characters provide a good distraction. ‘Serge the concierge’ in particular is performed well and his dramatic storytelling skills command the stage. The show contains hula-hooping, acrobatics, juggling and russian cradle providing plenty of entertainment and spectacle. It lists itself as ages 3+ but without more direct interaction with the audience it could struggle to keep younger audience members engaged. RB.

Triple Buse, by Cie Du Plat Pays at Assembly Rooms. For ages 5-13

This show is set in a surreal world where we watch three performers repeat their unusual but seemingly monotonous daily routine, involving blowing up balloons and packing them into cardboard boxes. This routine is very quickly disrupted with some amusing problems arising and plenty of near misses and clumsy mishaps. Chaos ensues and two of the characters revel in it, encouraging each other to play in styrofoam snow and escape to other worlds. The more rigid of the three is stubborn however, and determined to remain in control. We watch as they try to persuade him to loosen up, while also treading carefully so as not to get in trouble. The characters are distinctive and likeable but because of the absurd approach the audience could feel a bit lost at times. The dream-like feel does mean that the pace remains the same, which could be challenging for some children. The aesthetic of this show is well crafted, the stage is always filled with interesting images and they create some clever effects with the cardboard boxes. We are reminded of children making dens in their bedrooms and with blurred lines of reality and imagination, ‘​Triple Buse’ ​inspires us to venture into our daydreams. RB.

Children Are Stinky, by Circus Trick Tease at Assembly George Square Gardens. For ages 3-10

I like to move it move it‘ is blasting, balloon animals are being puppeteered, bright colours, flowers, disco lights swirl and the audience is piling in for the show. Already the energy is high and theres no mistaking the kind of show we are about to be treated to!

Our two hosts – going as ‘Kylie’ and ‘Jason’ – burst onto stage with a flurry of high-fives and silly noises. They instantly have the kids on their side. Pros. Their happiness is turned on like a light switch and never falters through the show, their sincerity is clear, children can pick up on that kind of thing. They know these guys are the real deal…because they never shut up shouting out things to them! The performers love it though! Joining in and laughing, encouraging kids to get involved in their tricks and challenges.

This show from Circus Trick Tease doesn’t skimp on the skill. Every day relatable things become circus-y, a gesture that improves the children’s connections to the tricks greatly, chairs are the balancing act, flowers are the juggling clubs and the acrobatics are blended amongst the story to fun music the kids will love. The only thing hampering this show is its back and forth to the plot point of arguing if children are indeed stinky. It feels a little thick layered on at every opportunity. And there was a bizarre moment mid show where both performers left stage for the audience to ‘talk amongst ourselves’. With more skills than your kids can count this show packs in a lot of stuff, and a lot of gimmicks too, slow motion tricks and audience participation. Dont forget to mention theres merchandise too! It wont be to everybody’s tastes, it’s a bit too loud and busy for the really small, and a bit too goofy for the older ones. But it is a perfect show for that middle ground! RK.

Big Tops and Tiny Tots Circus Show, by Luth Wolff and Solid State Circus at Imagination Workshop. For ages 3-7

Luth Wolff is a versatile performer, well used to children and their sometimes crazy ways! Her show is a whirlwind through all the circus props, from juggling to hooping, from unicycling to plate spinning! She does all with ease and to a high skill level (which people often dumb down for children’s shows, but not her!) Clowning may not be her strongest area but she adds elements of slapstick and jokes here and there.

We are welcomed into a room with party music and a distinct red stripy theme! Throughout the show the audience members have a chance to help Luth out with her circus adventure, trying their hand at plates, giving advice on skipping, and even being elephants walking the tight wire. Its adorable to watch and at the same time lots of fun for the little ones. Luth makes them the centre of the show, she is always asking them questions, How do things work? What do they think will happen next? What are good choices for her to do? This is so refreshing from most children’s shows who often only ask them to scream louder…. 

This show keeps the kids happy without burning them out and leaving parents with hyperactive or exhausting kids once the shows over. Perfect for a morning of fun with a long Fringe day ahead. Older ones will find the pace slow and, although the tricks are impressive, the aim is most certainly to the younger half of primary school children. RK.

Little Top, by Starcatchers and Superfan at The Pleasance EICC. For ages 18 months and under.

A perfectly crafted show, from start to finish it gently engages the age group and most impressively, manages to maintain that until the final trick.

The stage is a mini circus tent, the sides of coloured fabric, the roof of bunting and fairy lights, and once its audience is sitting comfortably around the edge it becomes every instagramming mothers dream. Combined with the lighting and the music as we enter, the creative team are to be congratulated for creating such a picturesque setting for a show that keeps the age of its audience always first and foremost.

This show is a wonderful introduction to circus for children, it keeps the energy and joy of the circus we adults are used to but is never loud and scary. That’s not to say the skills have been lowered. Not at all. This highly capable cast give great performances, by slowing down and fully revealing the subtle changes in tricks. Eye contact with every child in the room, and doing tricks right up close to families, they know what this age group wants and they give it to them. Glowing props, big bouncy balls and silly upside down walking, keeping the tempo slow and easy to follow. What is more the cast are clearly passionate about sharing circus, after the show there’s a chance to explore what we have seen, the props, the stage, even the performers. They coo and dote on each child, loving every minute. A must see for anyone at the Fringe with a child aged 2 or under. RK.

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