EdFringe 2022 Review: Rebel

“…this Australian circus spectacular soars as an undeniable Fringe highlight.”

In a move of genius, the music of David Bowie combines with the awe of cutting-edge circus for thrilling results in new Edinburgh Festival Fringe show, Rebel. The Australian production takes a month-long residence in the Underbelly’s Circus Hub and features the impressive vocal talents of Stewart Reeve who channels the spirit of the British pop chameleon alongside circus elements in the form of acrobatics, aerials and sideshow.

Reeve is accompanied by a live band who also double as the many circus performers of Rebel, including Jane Schofield on hula hoops and aerial work, Rockie Stone‘s balancing act, Matthew Anderson‘s juggling skills and Chris Springer‘s pole and trapeze work. Rebel provides variety and stellar music contributions, truly providing something for all audiences.

Opening with a blistering punky rendition of Suffragette City, we are struck by Stewart Reeve’s ability to capture the rebellious spirit and energy of Bowie. The pace slows for a poignant aerial gymnastic routine from Jane Schofield soundtracked to an impressive rendition of Space Oddity. A hint of danger arrives in the form of Rockie Stone’s breath-taking ability to walk across the narrow tops of multiple glass bottles as Reeve belts out an energetic version of Bowie’s Fashion. Seeing Stone do this is one of the highlights of Rebel – it is a truly jawdropping feat and is likely to have you peering through your hands in shock.

Part of the joy of Rebel comes in its music choices. For casual fans, all the classics are included from Changes to Heroes, but there’s also real delight in Reeve’s renditions of many of Bowie’s 90s and 2010s work. The brilliant Hallo Spaceboy soundtracks an impressive juggling routine, whilst there is some impressive and abundant hula hoop work (surely this is the most hula hoops ever on stage at once?) set to Bowie’s industrial techno number I’m Afraid of Americans. It would have also been nice to see the singer’s Black Tie White Noise album represented, but that’s simply personal bias. One of Bowie’s final works, Lazarus is poignantly performed alongside Chris Springer’s skilful movements on a swinging pole highlighting a further poignancy in the song.

Energy remains high thanks to Reeve’s take on Under Pressure, whilst audiences will delight in solo performances to Life On Mars and Ziggy Stardust. There is comedy in the form of a collapsing chair routine from Rockie Stone as a well-pitched take on Changes plays, whilst Schofield showcases further talents in an impressive routine with roller skates and a trapeze soundtracked to Let’s Dance.

Closing proceedings with a triumphant version of Heroes and a high-octane chair balancing routine set to Rebel Rebel, this Australian circus spectacular soars as an undeniable Fringe highlight.

There is an added edge and excitement in Rebel through its use of a live band and fantastically selected Bowie cuts masterfully performed by Reeve. This soundtrack helps further elevate the impressive circus spectacle at the heart of Rebel ensuring that it is a must see for all audiences.

Rebel plays at Underbelly’s Circus Hub until August 27th. Get tickets here.

Lead photo: Matt Turner

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