Dance, Physical Theatre & Circus review: Atomic Saloon Show, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh

Atomic Saloon Show, Assembly George Square (Venue 3). Picture: Greg Macvean
Atomic Saloon Show, Assembly George Square (Venue 3). Picture: Greg Macvean
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In case anyone wanders in ill-prepared for the kind of content in store, Atomic Saloon Show’s opening number says it all.

Atomic Saloon Show, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh * * * * *

Far too rude to quote here, but both funny and beautifully sung by sequin-clad, guitar-playing cowboy Colin Cahill, it causes one couple to get up and leave – which is probably for the best.

Then out comes Petra Massey, our whip-cracking host/madam for this evening of Wild West entertainment. When she’s not changing from one fabulous costume into another (usually with a crotch that billows smoke in response to the buff bodies surrounding her – yes, it’s that kind of show), then she’s trying aimlessly to keep romance out of her bordello.

One by one, Massey introduces us to a cast of characters who both add to the narrative and deliver superb circus routines.

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Irish dance duo Peter Harding and Suzanne Cleary, as the redneck cousins, show off their fast-paced hand and foot work. Strong and graceful pole-dancer Alina Shpynova’s sweet relationship with the shy cleaning boy (also a crack aerialist), has us all rooting for them. Pavel Stankevych strides on stage as the “Mayor”, then executes a hand-balancing routine of pure dexterity.

As the town “reverend”, Garry Starr’s inability to keep his clothes on is as deliciously inappropriate as the “nun” who does things with a ping pong ball Mother Superior would definitely disapprove of. All these and more deliver a production that clearly hasn’t skimped on design, costume or personnel.

No circus show can offer wall-to-wall thrills, it would be exhausting for both the performers and audience. But while many struggle to pad out the acrobatics and aerial with content that’s engaging, Atomic Saloon Show is a perfect example of what you can achieve when you bring in a truly talented director to pull it all together – in this case, Cal McCrystal.

There’s so much talent on stage here, and McCrystal knew exactly what to do with it. Clever, hilarious, gorgeous to look at, and without a single second of padding, Atomic Saloon Show is heading to Las Vegas for the next year – they’re in for a treat.

Until 25 August

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