The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, with nearly 3,500 shows. This year, Playbill is in Edinburgh for the entire month in August for the festival and we’re taking you with us. Follow along as we cover every single aspect of the Fringe, aka our real-life Brigadoon!
As part of our Edinburgh Fringe coverage, Playbill is seeing a whole lotta shows—and we're sharing which ones you absolutely must see if you're only at the Fringe for a short amount of time. Consider these Playbill Picks a friendly, opinionated guide as you try to choose a show at the festival.
Romeo and Juliet, but make it circus.
That’s Duel Reality, the newest show from The 7 Fingers, now playing at Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The Montreal-based creative collective specializes in circus and returns to the tent at Underbelly’s Circus Hub this year with the Shakespeare-infused acrobatics and aerial spectacular.
For Duel Reality, The 7 Fingers has plopped its star-crossed lovers onto opposing teams competing in a sports arena. Identified only visually as a red team and a blue team, the tumbling Montagues and Capulets emerge from the audience, opening the show with an all-out, full-cast acrobatic brawl. It is in this mele that our Juliet and Romeo first lock eyes.
In order to settle this red-blue dispute, a line is drawn down the center of the stage floor and the teams then compete in a more structured (but circus) way. First with a duel on the Chinese pole, with each team wowing the audience with spins and gravity-defying holds (the upper-body strength of these performers!). The bout is ultimately decided by each performer doing a hands-free drop down the length of the (I don’t know…30 feet maybe?) pole, halting themselves with their legs just before they hit the ground.
The one who lands closest to the floor wins. There were gasps and cheers all around as the winner’s head stopped mere centimeters from the floor!
The second round was decided by a juggling match (clubs against balls), tying the teams up. A masquerade interlude followed featuring a hula hoop routine, a Diabolo (Chinese yo-yo) number, and a Romeo and Juliet acrobatics pas de deux. This is definitely a highly-skilled group of performers and everyone has a moment to shine.
The highlight of the evening was the final challenge on the teeterboard. The high-flying flips were interspersed with dialogue from the Romeo and Juliet’s Act 3 Benvolio-Romeo-Mercutio-Tybalt fight, which really gave the scene a lot of extra bite. (R&J lines had been bandied about previously in the show, but were particularly effective in helping the story along in this section.) The challenge ended when a move seemingly doesn’t land correctly and one of the performers falls on his back. There was a split second of “was that real?” before I realized it was Mercutio’s death. Whew!
That death is enough for these Montagues and Capulets to put aside their colors, and in the end, Romeo and Juliet are allowed a beautiful trapeze number. “We changed the ending,” says Juliet. “Because who needs tragedy these days?” Agreed.
The 7 Fingers: Duel Reality plays at Underbelly's Circus Hub on the Meadows through August 26. Click here for tickets. See photos of the show below.