Edinburgh Festival Fringe cabaret review: Le Haggis, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Ben Walters.
The new-model variety show established by La Clique at Edinburgh in 2004 has dominated the Fringe cabaret scene for more than a decade now, with numerous variations on the theme emerging in recent years.
So it’s perhaps high time for a Caledonian twist on the format to set up shop. Le Haggis takes up the challenge with relish, delivering a roistering combination of music and circus, as the formula dictates, but infusing them with the spirit of ceilidh and distinctively local romantic and irreverent flavours.
First emerging out of a show in Dumfries, Le Haggis has been playing around Scotland for two years and now hits the Fringe.
Black leather kilts and blue tartan are the order of the day as we’re welcomed in to the Asssembly’s Spiegeltent by the company, who get the party started with a couple of belting numbers riffing on Rabbie Burns and folk standards, delivered by a tight band featuring young BBC award-winning trio Talisk, who have arranged a set list that also includes the likes of Calvin Harris and Paolo Nutini. It’s brought to rollicking life by frontman Grant Dinwoodie, who has a rousing voice, a pally way with the audience and a roguish glint in his eye.
There’s very impressive acrobatic and aerial work from Empress Stah, Edd Muir, Justine Squire, Beata Surmiak and Jamie Swan. Swan’s balancing act set to Deacon Blue’s Dignity combines bravura technical skill with a smartly chosen and thoughtfully executed song to yield more than the sum of its parts – it conjures a whole sensibility involving character, work and place.
That’s typical of a show that has its rough edges – it takes a while to build momentum and there could be more variation in the non-musical turns – but feels like a natural product of its environment.
Assembly George Square Gardens (Venue 3) until 30 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 27 August 2015
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