it decade ago the geriatric circuses of Europe were dwindling in their impoverishment and artistic decrepitude. things are now in turnaround with a plethora at new circus acts traversing the globe, gaining critical plaudits, and thrusting their intelligence in our collective lace.


Such is Cirque Surreal. Cut go ponies

and sad elephants, in comes the ‘human circus’, part Cats, part Crystal Maze. But who among our clever kids and knowing adult audience would miss the leggy lion tamer with her thigh-high boots? Not many, is the verdict here. We’re happy with a blend ot dance, humorous stunts and post- modern treak parade.

Cirque Surreal keeps the treaks on a leash, but the till-strong international troupe is still closer to Bahtkin’s concept ot the carnivalesque than to Breton’s notion ot surrealism.

Smelly lunatic Canache is straight trom the asylum, scratching his groin and playing tootie with his bicycle. The lady on the tightrope is grotesque in a flaking bodysuit. The biggest cheer goes up tor comical mime artist

Cirque Surreal: circus tor the next millennium

and magician Donimo, eclipsing the rest with his sleight-ot-hand and astonishing physical grace. And even it you detest Rick Wakeman, his atmospherics verge on the musically interesting.

Circus tor the next millennium: you’ll have a whale-friendly time. (Deirdre Molloy)

Cirque Surreal (Fringe) The Meadows ( Venue 109) 662 9677, until 3 Sept, various times, Eli-£12. 50.



When Whitney Houston sang about all the man she ever needed. she was not directing it at Richard Herring. Still. despite his rounded figure. the fact that he‘s quite funny might earn him a snog one day.

Richard Herring is All Man is worth going to see. but only just. The original idea of his shaved-off



beard hunting him down is a bit contrived. but it develops into an observant piss-take of what it's like to grow up with a I downtrodden machismo. I Brilliantly upstaged by his supporting duo of Sally Philips and Tom Binns. Herring's show never stops running and is positively knackering by the time it climaxes into a peach ofa finale. (Philip

I Richard llerring is All Man (Fringe) Richard Herring. Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. until 2 Sept (not 31) 7pm. £7/£8

llerring: positively knackerlng

Kate Robbins: bursting the soap bubble

[EME- KATE noeems

Musical impressions can often be as tedious as the artists satirised. but Kate Robbins injects Cilla. Cher and co with a wit belying their natural awfulness. Hearing Robbins as Victoria Wood singing a medley ofJames Bond themes is a delight and although the material is lukewarm at times. the pastiches are accurate and instantly recognisable. Robbins‘s manner is winnineg self- deprecatory as she comes clean about her first big break in Crossmar/s. Indeed. much of the show deals with her career to date. from Spitting Image mimic to voiceover artiste extraordinaire. There are obvious limitations to this approach. and one wonders how far she can take it. Overall though. this is finely tuned middle brow fun for soap addicts and other stay at homes. (Neil Cooper) I Kate Robbins (Fringe) Kate Robbins. Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428. until 29 Aug. 6pm. £7.50/£8.50 (£6.50/£7.50)


There's nothing quite like cult status for pulling a crowd. and both The Rocky Horror Show and Little Shop till/(H'mrs will always find an audience somewhere. be it a respectable musical- loving crowd or an all-out fishnet-wearing. blood- splattered throng. If it's the show you love. then this production should sate your appetite. even if it doesn't leave you gagging for more. Seymour and Audrey make a perfect nerdy no- hoping couple with a spot- on New Yawk drawl. Her botanical namesake Audrey 2 is resplendent in pink velvet. with one of the richest soul voices l've ever heard. But the production lacks confidence. with rather lacklustre choreography and songs often seeming to just trail off rather than end. which in a show that‘s thin on dialogue. can leave you feeling a bit flat. (Kelly Mclvlenamin) I Little Shop at Horrors (Fringe) Threshold Theatre Company. Southside (Venue 82) 667 7365. until 2 Sept. 6.15pm. £5.5()-£7.5().


American performer Scott Carter pulls off a neat trick in this engrossing 90-minute monologue about his experiences as a soft-core pornography writer and severe asthmatic (thus the show's punning title). in the first half. Carter establishes himself as a humorist. with an ironic series of anecdotes about working in the tits ‘n‘ ass industry while dating one of the senior editors. As a former stand-up. he has a sound sense of timing and a finely tuned ear for a droll line.

After the interval. Carter heads for deeper water with a personal and emotional account of his near-death experience during an asthma attack in which he experienced a ‘personal epiphany‘. Without the leavening wit of the first half this could easily have felt like overwrought psycho- babble. but by establishing himselfas a guy not prone to bouts of

spiritual fervour how

else could he have worked in the pornography industry? the moment of

revelation is all the more

powerful. A tremendous


show which is in turns funny. sad and uplifting. (Fddie Gibb)

I lleavy Breathing (Fringe) Scott Carter. Randolph Studio (Venue

55) 225 5366. until 2 Sept

(not 2(). 3|) 6pm. £4 (£3).

I m


Blissfully short but not so sweet. ()ur Theatre Co presents Two Actors ln Desperate Search ()f A

Decent Script.

The play traces the

shabby relationship of a stuck-up (off and her

tattooed bit of rough as

2 they plot their own

demise. Despite some

fluffed lines the couple make the tnost of

? confused writing which i adheres to the sorry

delusion that repetition of

. a half-funny line will

Q eventually have an f audience guffawing their

dinner up. Gems include Romeo‘s

' inability to strum a B i chord and his desire to j turn Juliet inside out and

shove her tip her own arsehole. Don‘t tempt me.

(Brian Donaldson) I Romeo and Juliet: ' Happily Never After

: (Fringe) ()ur Theatre Co.

Cafe Royal (Venue ~17). 556 254‘). until 2 Sept. 7.15pm. £5 (£4).


The funniest thing about Simon Fanshawe's first Fringe show in three years was Susan. Fortysomething Susan sat in the front row. creamy blouse buttoned up to her neck. heavy tweed jacket folded on her lap. This in the hottest room in the

hottest summer since ever. i

‘Susan's probably been to more of my shows than i have.‘ said Fanshawe in reply to her repeated and frankly bonkers interjections. ‘C‘mere and shake my hand Simon you wee bugger.‘ chortled Susan. ‘Play comedy for me.‘ she might have added. Stalk about the passion . . .

If only the show was this entertaining. Prodigious intellect a- racing and middle class liberal consternation a- blazing. Fanshawe zipped through the ‘contradictions‘ at the heart of the current socio- political climate. The unfunny thing is. clever- clever digs at Blair. Major. Portillo and (Babs) Cartland are not the stuff

Simon Fanshawe: too clever by halt

of illuminating or innovative comedy- with-attitude. It's a smug‘s game. (Craig McLean) I Simon Fanshawe (Fringe). Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428. until 2 Sept. 6.10pm. £7.50/£8.5() (£6.5()/£7.5()).

EME- sronrunes

The Mark Baldwin Dance Company presents a mixed programme of highly honed. rigorously formal dances set to music by Handel and Bartok. Baldwin's ballet background is given a contemporary ripple. twist and shot of gentle humour. and his choreographic imagination particularly shines in some intricate partnering work.

The lushest dancing is found in a handful of solos that pepper the pieces. as only here do the technically proficient dancers seem fully to transcend the choreography. Baldwin appears briefly doing a fluffy little solo in a silence that pokes coy fun at everything. including himself. If only the other dancers could tap into some of his emotional subtlety and obvious pleasure in performance. (Lynn Keating)

I Sightlines (Fringe) Mark Baldwin Dance Company. St Bride‘s Centre (Venue 62) 346 1405. until 26 Aug. 6pm. £6 (£4).

Sightllnes: rigorously tormal dance

38 The List 25 Aug-7 Sept 1995