The Finest of Fringe - El Bizarro: Glamour! Danger! Freaks!

5 stars

“That's why I come to Fringe”

These words were spoken by an audience member, standing outside the Gold Digger on a warm summer evening. El Bizarro is a headline show, a freak show, a show that sets out to astound and amaze. A show that sits atop a festering heap of weirdness, as the paramount example of the bizarre.

Image courtesy of David Eriksson

Image courtesy of David Eriksson

The rabidly excitable Magnus Danger Magnus introduces a series of performers who proceed to demonstrate their unique talents. At face value it’s circus fair that you might think you could find at any number of shows around the festival. You’d be wrong.

In many ways, El Bizarro is a classic example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. Magnus’ vaudevillian showman skills hype up the crowd, before a single flesh hook has even passed the curtain.

A woman, who wouldn't look out of place at a CWA cake stand, sits in the front row, clearly having the time of her life.

When the acts begin their assault on the sensibilities of the ticket holders, the fever pitch to which we are raised heightens further, erupting like an abscess lanced far later than advised.

It harks back to the early days of showmanship, where polite decorum would fade away to be replaced by a more primal form of appreciation. This is not a show that invites deep introspective thought, nor does it deliver cutting political satire. Sure, there are parts that cut to the heart of fringe theatre, but in an entirely different way.

Image courtesy of Desnoir

Image courtesy of Desnoir

A man sits, swaying in his spot on the bleachers, before fainting dead away and being carried bodily from the venue.

Instead the audience, as encouraged by the compère, hoot and holler, laughing and leering alike at the scenes set out before them. Their faces are wrought with a variety of expressions, from confusion, to revulsion, to maniacal glee. Common though, is the sparkle of engagement behind every eye in the room. These people are undeniably entertained.

As the show comes to a close, the house lights come up and the audience begins to exit, there’s a hubbub of excited chatter. People sharing their feelings on what they’ve just seen, animatedly recounting the events to each other, as if they hadn’t all just seen the same show.

And some, due to disbelief or incredulity, are asking questions. Some wholly philosophical, contemplating the motivation required to perform such feats. Others entirely pragmatic.

“Where are his actual balls?”

Tickets available from the FRINGE WORLD website.