Discovered in Nairobi by an Italian circus impresario, the performers in The Black Blues Brothers have gone from a small community project to performing in 200 cities around the world in just five years.
The Black Blues Brothers Assembly Rooms – Music Hall, Edinburgh * * * *
Their showmanship and polish may have been tagged on during that time, but it’s clear their acrobatic skill has been there since childhood. The fearlessness in their tumbles and hand balances, the ease with which they fly and flip into the air, then plunge to the floor speaks of years of focused training and huge amounts of trust.
Every circus show needs a theme these days, and no prizes for guessing what The Black Blues Brothers was inspired by. Set in a stylish Art Deco hotel, where the men are staff members, the radio on the bar becomes the focus, as one by one tracks from the 1980s film play out.
Stripping off their sharp black jackets and shirts (with perhaps a little too much swagger – it all gets a bit Chippendales for a moment) they get down to business. A routine with a skipping rope finds them bouncing on the floor with their feet, hands and even bottoms; proving their incredible bendiness, they limbo-dance under a flame-lit pole; and climbing up a five-chair stack they deliver a rock-steady handstand at the top. Everything looks effortless.
A pretend duffing up of the smallest guy, and mild pretend bullying throughout, feels unnecessary and out of step with the show’s mood. Because although these five Kenyans may not actually be brothers, their bond is clearly as close, and it’s this – not the mock arguments – that take them into our hearts.
Until 25 August