Inadvertently we seem to have picked a lot of shows this year based on classic texts, "Macbeth" and "The Comedy Of Errors"
(Shakespeare), Great Expectations (Dickens) ,Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde" (Stevenson), "Frankenstein" (Shelley) and tonight "Notre
Dame De Paris", based on "The Hunchback Of Notre Dame". Although we have generally seen different versions of these
famous pieces nothing can match NDP Circus's astonishing take on Victor Hugo's novel.
Based in front of the gorgeous St Patrick's Church on Cowgate, we took our seats facing a fantastic set representing the back
of Notre Dame. For some reason I was expecting a promenade performance and instantly regretted not packing a jumper. This
is a stunning production from a French based circus company, directed by Paul Liengaard. Before arriving in the Scottish capital
they had previously spent several nights at various venues ranging from Brittany, Haute Goulaine and Tintern Abbey.
These multi- talented artistes therefore not only had to create the set, the costumes and do all the stunts but they had to perform
in French or English depending in which country they happened to be in at that time. This is a very faithful re-telling of the
original story, which I had never read and although I knew the famous bits (although, oddly not the ending) I loved watching the
Unusually, in this fast-paced modern world it takes its time, nothing is rushed. It captures the atmosphere of the times and these characters and I loved that attention to detail. My colleagues who felt the abrupt drop in temperature (attempts to keep us warm by setting fire to some of the blocks near us failed) would have much preferred a cut in its two and a half hour running time. How many shows do you see in the Fringe Festival that have an interval?
Personally, I was beguiled by the enchanting singing and Esmerelda's captivating dancing, mainly for her own benefit, as she became surrounded by darkness. The production revolved around her with the more famous Quasimodo a mere supporting character.
For me this was site-specific entertainment at its best, performing horses, a scene stealing goat and watching Notre Dame burn, sadly an unwanted modern reference.
Highly recommended but dress accordingly and perhaps take a thermos of something hot or something stronger.
Notre Dame de Paris is at St Patrick's Church until August 24th (not Saturdays)
St Patrick's Church (Venue 408)