CIRCUS DIARIES on EdFringe: Mark Watson – Man of Mischief

In Cabaret, Circus, Edinburgh Festival, Festivals, Opinion, Regional theatre, Reviews, Scotland, Touring by Katharine KavanaghLeave a Comment

 

Decked out in formal 3-piece and bowler hat, with shining spats, red silk scarf and socks to match, Mark Watson welcomes us into the venue for this special preview of his Edinburgh Fringe show. His old-school entertainer’s ‘look’, teamed with a chummy courtesy and fast-flowing patter, sets us up for a  genuinely entertaining hour of classic juggling tricks and mentalist magic. The get up may remind us of gentlemen variety performers of a bygone age, but Watson, with an engaging smile and a canny eye for sizing up the audience, proves that this style of show can still deliver its promised dose of laughter and amazement.

A familiar compere warm-up of applause and gags gets the audience going, and happy volunteers are identified from the crowd. This convention setting, surrounded by juggling peers, gives Watson plenty of opportunity to demonstrate a solid improvisation ability, and he connects warmly with the audience as he rattles through his upbeat schtick. There are moments of mild political humour, which feel as light as the rest, and demonstrations of global performance styles play to conventional national stereotypes rather than specialist juggling reputations.

Mark Watson performing at Catch!

Playing cards, hidden predictions, juggling balls and knives all make an appearance and, during a cups and balls routine, I find myself laughing along with everyone else as the hilariously bamboozled audience participant.

Most of the shows I tend to see are theatrical or ensemble in nature, so this one-man variety performance is a rare treat that reminds me how much a classic entertainer talent generally gets overlooked in the wider performing arts world. Whilst I don’t recognise much mischief in Watson’s time-honoured presentation, I do see a man with skills, charm, and a working repertoire of timeless tricks.

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Katharine Kavanagh on FacebookKatharine Kavanagh on InstagramKatharine Kavanagh on TwitterKatharine Kavanagh on Youtube
Katharine Kavanagh
Katharine is a circus writer based in the Midlands, a handy travel hub for getting out and about to new and smaller-scale work. From a background as a performer, theatre-maker and circus volunteer, Katharine took part in the EU-funded 'Unpack the Arts' circus residency, set up The Circus Diaries website, and now dedicates herself to sharing the intricacies of circus art with the world.

She says: "Circus is an area of performing arts where few people have the vocabulary and understanding to write balanced critical appraisal. This tends to result in wishy-washy 'reviews' that all sound the same and say very little about the relative quality of the show.

"As the circus arts grow in popularity and engagement across the UK, it's important for critical voices to reflect this to increasingly discerning audiences. That's where I come in."
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Katharine Kavanagh on FacebookKatharine Kavanagh on InstagramKatharine Kavanagh on TwitterKatharine Kavanagh on Youtube
Katharine Kavanagh
Katharine is a circus writer based in the Midlands, a handy travel hub for getting out and about to new and smaller-scale work. From a background as a performer, theatre-maker and circus volunteer, Katharine took part in the EU-funded 'Unpack the Arts' circus residency, set up The Circus Diaries website, and now dedicates herself to sharing the intricacies of circus art with the world.

She says: "Circus is an area of performing arts where few people have the vocabulary and understanding to write balanced critical appraisal. This tends to result in wishy-washy 'reviews' that all sound the same and say very little about the relative quality of the show.

"As the circus arts grow in popularity and engagement across the UK, it's important for critical voices to reflect this to increasingly discerning audiences. That's where I come in."