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.
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 Â£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 Â£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.