Pleasance Opening Gala 2018 - Cirque Berserk and Kate Copstick c. Elly White
Pleasance Opening Gala 2018 - Cirque Berserk and Kate Copstick c. Elly White

With over 250 shows this year, the Pleasance is a place for experiences and telling amazing stories. 2018 pushes this to the next level with the funny to the sorrowful and the political to the magical. This morning’s opening gala saw eight incredible acts come together, marking the amazing variety and quality of this year’s programme.

Direct from Sydney Opera House and London’s West End, Tall Stories began the gala with a hauntingly beautiful opening song from Wilde Creatures. This Edinburgh premiere is perfect for everyone aged 5-105 as a cast of amazing musicians tell the story with original live music and a generous dash of comedy.

Chortle award-winner Kiri Pritchard-McLean promises to have the audiences in stitches and today she hosted with her usual verve and undeniable humour. Returning with the hugely successful Amusical, she has also brought her third brand new show Victim, Complex to the Pleasance. All about victims, women, love and lies, you might not believe her but she’s used to that.

After her huge success as part of the Comedy Reserve last year, Catherine Bohart made her first appearance at the Pleasance Launch as she debuted her very personal and very funny show Immaculate. On at the Courtyard, this new show explores the small town in Ireland where Catherine was brought up, her identity as a bisexual woman, her struggles with OCD and the various conflicts and contradictions that arise out of these facets of who she is.

Giving a taste of the theatre programme, multi-award winner Familie Flöz performed an extract from the visually stunning Infinita. An extraordinary piece of physical theatre with a taught succession of hilarious scenes, stupendous music, and moving stanzas, it teases out depth and pure joy through superb craftmanship, precise observation and perfect comic timing.

Next up, the legendary double act The Raymond & Mister Timpkins Revue brought their lightning fast choreography and slick chaos to the Grand. They make their long-awaited Edinburgh Fringe debut with their show Ham after over 20 years of headlining on the UK comedy circuit.

Anthony Alderson, Director of Pleasance, comments, “We are delighted to be opening our 34th season at the Fringe with the boldest, broadest and most engaging of programmes. The Pleasance is a giant family that reunites every year to scream ‘CULTURE!’ from the rooftops. Every age is represented from toddlers in the Kidzone to Nicholas Parsons aged 94. In this year of young people, there is no better way to build a cultural heritage for our future than through this incredible festival.”

Freeman, this year’s recipient of The Charlie Hartill Theatre Reserve, has been created by award-winning writer Camilla Whitehill and Strictly Arts to examine the unspoken link between mental health and systemic racism. The extract from this thought-provoking production provided a glimpse into their unique blend of physical theatre, gospel singing and shadow puppetry.

Then it was time for the amazing Felicity Ward to return to bust a nutful with a section from her hysterical new show Busting a Nut. The Fringe was a sadder place with the Felicity Ward shaped hole that was so glaringly obvious in it. But this year, after a two-year hiatus, she’s hyped up, jumped up, and back at the Pleasance.

The absolutely astounding finale left everyone revved up for the festival as Cirque Berserk took to the stage. Celebrating the 250th anniversary of the invention of circus with their Edinburgh debut, they bring this treasured form of live entertainment bang up-to-date. In a breath-taking spectacular created especially for the theatre, their show combines contemporary circus artistry with hair-raising, death-defying adrenaline-fuelled stunt action.

In a truly jaw-dropping coup de théâtre, the sensational Lucius team of motorcyclists performed the Globe of Death, reaching speeds of over 60mph in a petrol-fuelled heart-stopping crowd- thriller with none other than Kate Copstick from The Scotsman as a special guest!

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