Briefs: The Second Coming
Assembly George Square
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At a certain point during Briefs: The Second Coming you may find yourself thinking, any minute now we're about to see a dog jumping through a burning hoop. Close. There's a hoop, but it's not in flames and there's a dog so betimes a monkey, and other times one of a superb dance team, and through the hoop he goes. Forwards; even more impressively, backwards. Or was that someone else's trick?
Keeping tabs on who does what - which one solves a Rubik's cube in a matter of seconds while looking in the other direction; which one suspends himself from the ceiling - becomes almost academic in a Briefs show. Most of the audience seem content just to ogle the abundant supply of supremely well-toned male flesh, but the entertainment runs much deeper than that. Some of the choreography would do credit to Busby Berkeley, some of the language likewise a brickie, and while those contemplating a front-row seat might be all the better for some waterproof clothing, the turn that's likely to get you wet is a spectacular trapeze act combined with a water feature, although you wouldn't want to try this in the local garden centre.
Not all the "dog's" mostly amusing activities are laudable, but that's a minor point in a burlesque that marries rugged humour with smooth skills, thrillingly death-defying gymnastics, a routine with a yo-yo and a willie-warmer that you'll find tough describing to the vicar and even a raffle - but the prize is a surprise until you get there.
Just Festival at St John's
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Africa Entsha have undergone a name change - from Soweta Entsha - since they first appeared on the Fringe and while the influence of Western pop remains in their show, in the shape of Fever and Stand By Me, there's a much stronger sense of their own tradition at work. The concept here concerns having to travel to find work and the consequent disruption to family life, and the story is told in marvellously harmonious singing, superb dance team-work and a vigour that leaves you wondering how they find the breath to sing. Like many Fringe shows, there's audience participation, but this one is naturally inclusive and the standard of performance remains high as the quintet processes, still all-singing, all-dancing, into the foyer.
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The spirit of Pan's People, with extra helpings of irony and cheek (in every sense), lives on in In Flagrante, a late-night show that juxtaposes a dominatrix, a kind of ensemble dressage, a topless policewoman on points duty and some marching that may take readers of a certain age and gender back to the Life Boys. There's talent here and the soundtrack is well chosen for atmosphere and momentum up to a point. But stretching the material out to an hour is perhaps a mite over-ambitious.
All runs end today.