One of the great pleasures of the Edinburgh Festivals is coming across something fresh and exciting and it may have emerged this year in the shape of a nine-piece progressive brass band.
The oddly-named Perhaps Contraption premiere their new show Nearly Human, or what the band bills as a “curious audio-theatrical journey, replete with intricate rhythms, enormous choral harmonies, dynamic choreography and ruminations about stars and happenstance.”
If that’s a bit tough to get your head around, think traditional folk intertwined with a hint of King Crimson’s off-beat jazz instrumentals and you’re almost there. It’s a rich and high-energy blend of mixed musical genres, light shows and a pinch of circus.
That’s the impression left from a brief introduction at the press preview of the Pleasance programme for 2019.
This year promises some enticing performances from the likes of Nigel Ng, a Malaysian immigrant with an hilarious routine built around the absurdities of western perceptions of Asian people.
We were also offered tasters of four female acts, including programme host Suzi Ruffell whose act is build around her own sexuality, though it’s becoming tiresome to hear more jokes at the expense of naive and simple parents.
There is a big dose of angst and self-questioning in Catherine Cohen‘s comedy routine set to music, while Sara Barron‘s explicit story-telling will satisfy those who still like to laugh at genitalia gags.
Bryony Kimmings threatens to take the male-female contest into slightly darker and more adventurous territory with her show about her difficult relationships.
Speaking of dark tales, Rhum and Clay present War of the Worlds which inspired Orson Welles’ classic radio play that caused widespread panic to listeners who believed Martians had landed. The story is re-imagined for the current climate of fake and alternative news.
The media preview featured a brief exhibition of BMX acrobatics as part of a dance show Elements of Freestyle by ISH Dance Collective, and a sketch from the UK debut of Fishbowl written by Pierre Guillois and performed by three mime performers who play eccentric neighbours involved in wacky accidents and other misadventures. Billed as Chaplin meets Mr Bean in Friends, it involves technical and physical tricks that are hilariously choreographed.