There’s a lot of circus at this year’s Fringe—so much that the Underbelly have provided a purpose built “hub” on the Meadows. And increasingly, each act needs a hook—something unique to draw in the choice-laden crowds. Mary Bijou Circus Theatre Company have certainly got a good one, with a homage to Alfred Hitchcock and his 50+ films. However, the scope of the imagination (fantastic) doesn’t quite match up to the finished project (perfectly serviceable).
An intimate venue, we see close-up tributes to Vertigo (high wire) and Rope (rope work, unsurprisingly), among many others. The skill is committed and the performers are consummate showmen (and women), but the lack of narrative lets things down. Scenes jump from one film to another, with no attempt to link the performances into any kind of arc. There’s also a great deal of original music, much of it stirring stuff, and skilfully played. However, it seems strange, with such iconic subject matter, not to make greater use of the original film scores.
Often, the less “circusy” sections work better. A skit on Hitchcock blondes sees all the men in the troupe dolled up and coyly dancing to The Monkees. It’s fun, frothy and a nice send-up of the director’s unhealthy obsession with his leading ladies.
There’s also a deliciously creepy Psycho segment, in which two underwear-clad performers cavort and tumble inside a huge plastic bag. It’s unsettling and nasty, and all the better for it. A triumphant end to a sadly slightly scattered show.