Back for its second year, Rebel, the David Bowie themed circus show, has been revamped and rejigged for its latest incarnation. It has a new cast supporting frontman, Stewart Reeve, and is presenting a significantly different and more diverse set of Bowie songs this time around.
Reeve is a confident and powerful singer. His performance is committed and fully ‘in the moment’, and he does not hold back when going for the most challenging notes that Bowie set for any would-be copyists. His interpretations of these wonderful songs are full of tastefully employed Bowie-esque inflections and nuances.
His band provides solid support but the fact that they are not given any space to show any individual flair is a shame, because it is the music that is the star element here – the circus act diversions come across as secondary interest only.
The acrobatic routines included in the show are, undoubtedly, competently performed, but, compared to other circus oriented shows at the Fringe, they lack any real ‘wow’ factor.
Jane Schofield’s aerial silk work was elegant and well-suited to accompany Space Oddity, and she displayed an impressive range of skills in other areas too, such as her hoop dancing, juggling, and her work on other aerial apparatus. Rockie Stone’s balancing acts, on bottles, chairs were fairly basic. Her first performance – balancing on vases placed on the stage floor, was actually impossible to fully appreciate for those of us more than a few rows from the front due to sight-line issues, and should be performed on a raised platform to overcome this problem.
The rest of the cast also performed short routines to add visual variety to the show, including an only partially successful attempt to pluck Starman on the ukulele whilst suspended upside down above the stage.
The song choices in the show were often surprising. There are a number of predictable numbers in the set – Space Oddity, Ziggy Stardust, Let’s Dance, ‘Heroes’ and Rebel, Rebel, for instance; but lesser known tunes such as Hallo Spaceboy, I’m Afraid Of Americans, Loving The Alien and Lazarus, were included and, despite the risk inherent in their unfamiliarity, were amongst the best performances in the show.
Overall, this is an enjoyable show, worth attending for Reeve’s performance as Bowie (even if he does bear more of a resemblance to Gary Numan than the Thin White Duke!).
The pacing is good, the costumes are impressive, and the performance has plenty of heart – all of which outweigh any negative aspects of the show.
By: Ken Grady
Rating: 4 stars
Rebel is being performed in the Wonderland Spiegeltent at Gluttony on Thursday 20 February to Sunday 23 February; Tuesday 25 February to Sunday 1 March; Tuesday 3 March to Monday 9 March; Wednesday 11 March to Sunday 15 March.
All performances begin at 6:20pm.
Tickets are available here: Rebel