This is the final night of this year’s Spiegeltent at the Fringe. It promises an evening of high-class cabaret in what is an ideal venue for that sort of thing. Does it deliver? In spades, dear reader, in spades. Designed perfectly for a Spiegeltent, the central circular stage grabs the attention straight away. The evening opens with a performance by the highly- talented duo Circle of Two, he the maker, Pinnochio style, of a female mechanical mannekin, she the aforesaid performing doll. And what a performer: the faultlessly performed jerkily balletic movements are combined with a cheeky wit and sly eroticism that take what is essentially clowning to a different level, which the audience noisily appreciates. This is just for openers. The main event, Hitch, from Mary Bijou Cabaret and Social Club is based around images from the films of Alfred Hitchcock, though you do not need to be a Hitchcock buff to appreciate it. The performers are multi-skilled: capable at once of being musicians, singers, actors, comedians, or acrobats. They bombard us with brilliantly unexpected and dramatic images – The Birds, for instance, is symbolised in a frenzied and terrifying pole dance routine, with dead pigeons falling all over the stage. The performers switch gender effortlessly throughout, most effectively in an amazingly comic appearance from Hitchcock himself, woman dressed as overweight man doing a male striptease. But there is more, much more. Each image, song routine and vignette is in a different, unexpected, but riveting style that fuses everything that is imaginative about modern circus/cabaret techniques, with an artistic intelligence capable of embracing the comic and the macabre, the spectacular and the intimate, the poignant and the horrific in a roller-coaster of visual and aural wonderment that take the breath away. This is beyond cabaret and into the realm of high dramatic art. If I could give it six stars, I would. A triumph.


John Christopher Wood

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