Julien Cottereau: Imagine Toi

Assembly Roxy

Four stars


The Little Soldiers

Pleasance Dome

Three stars




Four stars

L'apres-midi d'un Foehn


Four stars

There are moments when Julien Cottereau asks for more than his audience's imagination to collude with his mime-play - he wheedles volunteers on stage and beguiles some wonderfully whole-hearted performances out of them. That they do enter into the fanciful spirit of his scenarios is a measure of how engaged and delighted we are by his clowning, and by the genial yet wistful character he reveals in the course of his solo show.

In essence, he is the chirpy little man who is always on the receiving end of life's disappointments and deceptions. He is, in truth, a brilliant conman who tricks us into seeing - imagining - what is not there. There is no brush, no ball, no skipping rope, no - well what IS that scary-growly unseen thing that makes the stage go all blood-red and our chum go weak at the knees?

Let your own imagination run riot over that and much else besides, in the company of an artist who does not just make you see things, he makes you feel a wealth of emotions too.

Runs until August 26

All kinds of battles are suggested in Theatre Re's mime-play, The Little Soldiers. The stylised make-up suggests our troupers - two men and a women - are with a circus, but the khaki colour of the men's costumes nods in the direction of the army.

Our wilfully coquettish tight-rope walker is like a little Degas ballerina in frothy white, but as the rivalry between her two admirers shades into something darker than the one-up-man-ship of romantic competition, her whole appearance could well be seen as emblematic of the ideals that men died for in the First World War. "Could", because in this text-free narrative, there is no absolute way to determine the degree of allegory.

What is not in doubt, however, is the beautifully honed and affecting mime technique of all three performers, or the sympathetic skills of the live musician who creates an atmospheric soundscore to the giddy feats of daring the two men do for love.

What also impresses is how ordinary objects - a ladder, a mike stand and some cable - become the stuff of deadly perils because the art of The Little Soldiers makes it so.

Runs until August 25

In between bouts of wonderfully accomplished acrobatics in Cyr Wheel, trapeze and on ropes, the Pirates Of The Carabina unburden themselves of various woes. Being in Flown is not quite what they thought a circus show would be like. How right they are.

We probably didn't expect so much comedy, great live music, brushes with disaster - not just anecdotes, but (carefully engineered) incidents - and a raffish air of chaos tinged with simmering tetch.

You have to laugh but, actually, it's all part of the company's cleverest trick of all: to remind us that real people do these breathtaking acts in defiance of gravity and the lack of a safety net.

Runs until August 26

Although L'apres-midi d'un Foehn is in the Fringe lists as a children's show, there's no age at which this flight of fancy - and plastic bags - won't seem like perplexing and mysterious magic.

There's the transformation of the bags themselves with a snip with the scissors, a quick application of sticky tape, a little figure takes to the air, with Debussy's luscious music spiraling with it. More tiny, colourful, bag-dancers follow, kept buoyant by the breath of six fans that encircle the space.

The use of Foehn (a type of wind) instead of Faune means the clustering and whirling seem like a caprice of nature, beyond the control of the dark, brooding figure of the ballet-master and his scissors. Cherish the airy beauty while you can, it is both vulnerable and ephemeral and - like so much of nature - defenceless against man and his determination to be master of all.

Runs until August 25