Edinburgh Festival: Blam! (5 stars)

You’re unlikely to find a better way of starting your festival than this. It’s a blast, a pistol at the start of a race. And yet it begins in near silence, in the yellowing white of a torrid office. No women work here, just three men and their manager, with his greasy hair and try-hard ways.

Then, slowly, the bored workers break free of their desks and commit minor acts of rebellion. A staple gun becomes an actual gun fired across cubicle walls, cardboard box files on suited arms become the wings of a fighter jet. Their embarrassing boss wants to join in, but he is repeatedly ignored.

Through a thrilling combination of choreography, parkour, trapeze work and daredevil acts, Danish company Neander have created a breathtaking ride but also a beautifully structured piece of dance theatre that playfully mimics action and sci-fi blockbusters. It’s a joy trying to spot which ones: Rambo, RoboCop, Die Hard.

What emerges is a universe that allows men to be boys again, to run around and shoot one another. Bones crunch, and the audience gasps, but no one ever dies.

Artistic director/ performer Kristján Ingimarsson and the rest of the mesmerising cast have perfect timing both as actors and dancers, able to express frustration, excitement and (in a touching sequence that sees ET meet ER) love and loss using barely a single word. Kristian Knudsen’s astounding movable set is a grandiose feat of engineering relatively unheard of at the Fringe and is all the more impressive for it.

A soundtrack of thumping hits builds to a rousing musical finale whereupon the gang throw down their weapons in favour of a synchronised dance routine celebrating friendship – something you can only get away with if you’ve really earned it, and they certainly have.

Written for The Scotsman


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