Review: Limbo, St Andrew Square

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CONTORTIONIST Jonathan Nosan recently told me that Scott Maidment, director of Limbo, Edinburgh’s alternative seasonal show in the Paradiso Spiegeltent, was a ‘curator of amazing human beings’.

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Watching, the centre-piece of the Edinburgh’s Christmas attractions the other evening, it’s a description that fits perfectly.

Limbo is a dark, dangerous and at times hilarious modern-day freak show, peopled by some of the most mesmerising performers you’ll ever see.

A showcase of death-defying stunts delivered by a troupe of extreme artistes, each capable of shocking, wowing and then cajoling the audience’s jaws back up off the floor.

This combination of cabaret, circus skills, music and dance soon dispel the cold chill of a winter night in the Capital, not least because of the inferno ‘breathed’ by fire-eater Heather Holliday - she also swallows swords and a neon tube that shows her inner glow.

But I’m jumping ahead. First, and setting the bar high, is Nosan himself, literally bending over backwards - a strangely disconcerting sight.

As he wraps his limbs around his body in a way that just shouldn’t be physically possible, you find yourself doubting your eyes.

Then there’s Holiday, not just a fire-eater, but a sword-swallower to boot. A tattooed vintage beauty, Holliday quite simply has to be seen to be believed.

As must Danik Abishev, a balancing act that crosses the line of sensibility as he draws gasps of horror from the crowd.

Although some of the dances feel like padding, Mikael Bres brings old school circus skills to the table with a scary Chinese pole act that would be hard to better, while Evelyne Allard and Hilton Denis keep the momentum going with a series of energetic vignettes.

All are played out to a beautifully crafted, hypnotic hillbilly sound track, courtesy of Sxip Shirey and his vagabond band.

These ‘amazing human beings’ certainly offer an exhilarating night out.

• Run ends 4 January