Smoke & Mirrors at The Spiegeltent (Festival Fringe Review)

The Spiegel Garden has long been a favourite of Edinburgh festival goers, so it was a disappointment when it failed to appear in 2009. This year the Spiegel Garden is back and so is the Spiegeltent, fresh from repairs and maintenance afforded by last year’s break from touring action. Thousands upon thousands of folk flock to the Spiegel Gardens for drinks and, at last, a choice of food. When the weather’s good, as it was this past weekend, it’s not uncommon to join a queue before admittance. While the appeal of the Spiegeltent is undoubtable, it’s a shame many garden goers miss out on seeing a show in the amazing Spiegeltent. And what better way to enjoy the Spiegeltent than attending Smoke & Mirrors, the flagship show for 2010.

Entrance to the Spiegel Tent at Edinburgh's Spiegel Garden Interior of the Spiegel Tent at Edinburgh's Spiegel Garden

The Spiegeltent is a stunning venue; light, airy and spacious. They are three words you won’t hear said about many of Edinburgh’s Festival Fringe venues! There’s also a great view of the stage wherever you sit. My particular favourite location is around the small tables, just behind the main rows of seating. There’s a bar which serves refreshments throughout the show and during the 15 minute interval. The Spiegeltent is a fantastic venue and a must visit. Thankfully, Smoke & Mirrors is a production worthy of the setting.

There’s gymnastics, magic, singing, men in white rabbit suits, a bearded woman and furious tap dancing. The band are terrific throughout with the impressive iOTA flawlessly leading the vocal effort. The musical accompaniment is varied, catchy and fun. All this ensures Smoke & Mirrors romps through its run-time. Some of the gymnastic movements could have been more fluid, but seeing strength and agility so close is superb. And I’m still wondering where the two huge white ducks appear from, when the magician takes centre stage.

While leaving Smoke & Mirrors someone commented “I wonder what the story behind all that is”. It’s a good question and provides my only qualm. There are plenty of hugely entertaining scenes and a terrific band providing continuity throughout, but the underlying theme never registers. By the time the lead character wearily left the stage at the end, I should have felt an emotional attachment, but I didn’t. As individual pieces Smoke & Mirrors works well, but as a continuous story it struggles to make itself clear. My advice is enjoy the aural and visual simulation, without trying too hard to find meaning.

At £20 a ticket Smoke & Mirrors is expensive. The List magazine have recently been offering two-for-one tickets if you show the magazine at the Spiegel box office. At £10 a ticket it becomes very good value. While not a show to immortalise, Smoke & Mirrors is a hugely entertaining spectacle and an excellent opportunity to experience this stunning Fringe venue. Recommended.

The Spiegel Garden is open until 30th August at Edinburgh’s George Square Gardens.
Smoke & Mirrors runs until the 30th too.

2 Responses to “Smoke & Mirrors at The Spiegeltent (Festival Fringe Review)”

  1. Not impressed with the Spiegel Garden this year - it is tiny and there are hardly any tables and chairs and only one small bar! This used to be the place to spend a lazy sunday afternoon having a few beers with friends but we have switched to one of the other outdoor bars.

  2. I was DELIGHTED to read the response from ‘David’ (August 17th), who complained that “the Spiegel Garden was tiny and that there was only one small bar”. Yes, I’m delighted - that he’s gone elsewhere! Clearly, he’s the kind of person who’s more interested in consuming alcohol with his mates in a large ‘beer garden’, than enjoying the entertainment on offer in The Famous Spiegeltent. The reduction in size of the Spiegel Garden, the choice of 30’s & 40’s style jazz as background music, and placing MUCH less emphasis on the sale of alcohol all combined to create the gardens into a delightful place to be. The thousands of beer monsters who (like ‘David’) had gone elsewhere, were not missed at all.

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