City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Tabú Review

By Dylan Matthew - Posted on 28 August 2010

Tabú Trapeze
Show details
No Fit State
Running time: 
Firenza Guidi (director, writer), Tom Rack (producer, tour manager), Peter Swaffer Reynolds (music and lyrics), Tarn Aitken (Chief Rigger), Sandro Spanu (Second Rigger), Ali Williams (co-producer), Tim Adam (operations manager), Zoë Munn (assistant producer), Firenza Guidi, Tom Rack, Ali Williams (creative team), Rhiannon Matthews (costume designer), Aöalsteinn Stefánsson (original lighting designer), Leif le Page (2010 relight), Chris Nurse, Lissy Moore (video)
Tania Cervantes Chamorro, Adie Delaney, Petri Ekqvist, Foucauld Falguerolles, Natalia Fandiño, Vanina Fandiño, Marco Fiera, Kadja Karjalainen, Marcella Manzilli, Howard Morley, Simone Riccio, Tanwen Watson (performers); Chris Cundy, Freemoore, Gareth Jones, Dylan Leonard (musicians)

During the interval for this show I popped out for a naughty rollie and got chatting to someone who was watching the show. One of the performers I’d seen during the first half, an attractive young lady still clutching her prop brolly knew my new found acquaintance and joined us.

With a typically poor choice of words I said something like ‘I saw you arsing about up there with your brolly while the main act was going on.' 'We’re not arsing about,’ she quite rightly retorted. I didn’t quite get the chance to explain myself but she had a point, for walking horizontally in the gantry thirty feet above me whilst continually pretending she was about to fall onto the crowd yet never doing so is a skill I don’t yet posses.

Half an hour later the same young lady was participating in a series of breathtaking death defying stunts that made me think ‘yeah, I wouldn’t call that arsing about – that’s pretty damn impressive’.

But this is the nature of a show like this. Between the various set ups which involve constantly re-arranging and re-rigging the gantry and layout of the performance space, the performers not directly involved in the main focus of each new segment distract your attention from the industrious frenzy taking place in the dark with what appears to be a bit of impromptu casual physical theatre which doesn’t initially appear to do anything other than amuse and distract.

Then suddenly above or behind you the lights come on to reveal the next piece of dazzling choreography. But without such ‘arsing about’ as I so lamely put it there would be continual long gaps in the show where nothing is happening.

The fact that No Fit State have managed to conceive a show like this where you’re never wanting for something new to look at is quite an achievement in itself considering its an hour and forty minutes of set pieces that demand a physicality and skill that shame my formerly impressive ability to run for a bus.

Set inside their sizeable silver spaceship tent on a bit of derelict wasteland on Leith Walk, Tabu is part mime, dance, physical theatre and aerial acrobatics, utilising video projection and all the while accompanied by a great in-house band performing a folk-rock-world-music combo infused with a Balkan tang. The performers themselves are a motley crew of ageing toned and handsome menfolk that look like they’ve just walked off the set of an Emir Kusturica film, the women a collection of lithe and graceful beauties who perform the majority of the heart-stopping aerial stunts.

This is a show that gradually builds up, layer upon layer of activity to a show-stopping finale. There are some arresting images conveyed with lighting, textures and movement, then comic shenanigans and pratfalls alongside some seriously jaw dropping stunts.

My favourite moments were watching a young lady tightrope walk in high heels while rolling a cigarette and the penultimate scene - aerial work where a series of acrobats hurl themselves on trapezes at incredible speeds into the upside down outstretched arms of a colleague who then flipped her 360° catching their feet and legs in turn. I had to look away a few times as my heart leapt into my open jawed mouth for fear of their safety but that’s the whole point, they make the impossible look easy. The occasional mass ‘ooh’s’, ‘ahh’s’ and the odd shriek from the audience below reminded me it wasn’t just myself who was impressed.

Tabu is an energetic and at times exhilarating show where madcap antics, tremendous skill and brief moments of visual beauty reminds one that human beings have abilities that go well beyond the norm of our humdrum earthbound lives. Terrific stuff.

Show Times:
28 August, 3pm/8pm
29 August, 5pm
30 August, 8pm

£16/£18 (£12/£14); Family tickets available.

Read Irene Brown's review of Tabu