Celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, the Edinburgh Gang Show is a long-standing tradition. Featuring over 250 young people from scouting and girl guiding, it comprises musical routines, sketch shows and a wealth of talent, with the sheer number and scale of routines that are packed into the show an incredible feat. It is full of charm and cheese with a hint of sheer energy.
The great thing about a show filled with children is that the performances are honest and raw – these are not perfect routines but they are truthfully performed. There are forgotten words, slow cues, jokes that fail and missed dance steps: we experience all their thoughts, fears and hopes with them – it is a rollercoaster we cannot help but go along with. All ages and abilities are featured, a great reminder that not only does talent need to learn to grow by nurturing and through opportunity, but also that the sheer joy of performing is paramount in a show like this. Mistakes happen but that is part of the fun of it – it is live and with more than 250 performers in total, it is a wonder that more does not go awry!
The strength of the show comes from its performers, the backstage team and the sheer variety of routines it produces. These range from simple songs with dance routines in the background, to very complicated, large cast co-cordinated routines. The variety helps to keep engagement and showcases the talents of a range of soloists as well as the groups. While all have their skills, Tatiana Honeywell’s striking rendition of I Wanna Dance With Somebody is a showstopper, accompanied by a wonderful choreographed routine, and Ailsa McLean’s Memory is not only powerful but also amusing. Matthew Knowles has a strong voice that lends itself very well to Lady Gaga’s I’ll Always Remember You This Way and there is a great deal of beauty in Falling Slowly, featuring Ava McCaffer and Cameron Armstrong, and a wonderful group of dancers.
Highlights include a very funny routine set in a wax works – you will not see Lewis Capaldi in the same light again –the Knights of the Round Table routine, the Haggis song, and some wonderful, individual performances with songs and dance. Not all the jokes work well, sometimes due to the timing, sometimes because some of the jokes are perhaps almost at retirement. It could be interesting to see routines paying more of an homage to the show’s history on such an anniversary, Nonetheless, the finale, when it comes, is a wonderfully visual spectacle, completing a fun night out.
Times: Thursday 21 November – Saturday 23 November @ 7:00pm; matinee Saturday 23 November @ 2;15pm.
Photo: Ryan Buchanan Photography