FRINGE REVIEW – Barockestra (Universal Arts)

*****

22 – 29 August
2210-2320, Universal Arts

When it’s going at things full-tilt (which is most of the time), Barockestra is a gloriously over-the-top head-on collision between classical and rock music.

Whether his fingers are buzzing over the frets during Flight of the Bumble Bee or crashing out the crescendo chords to the 1812 Overture, Barockestra creator and frontman Steve Grant knows how to put on a show.

A five-piece rock band take us on a historical journey through classical music, from the earliest days of Gregorian chant right up to more recent times with a joyful canter through the Can Can.

As the music calls for it, the band are joined onstage by ballet dancers and opera singers (including the long-haired larynx-busting presence of German singer Tom Croel, who dominates the stage whenever he appears). A video screen at the back teaches us some facts (and humourous fiction) about the composers whose work is barocked up, and the whole company are resplendent in period costume and flamboyant finery.

Edinburgh is Barockestra’s debut, and a couple of tech glitches are therefore forgivable, especially considering the complexity of the production. Some self-penned numbers feature, based on refrains from the classical canon, but Barockestra shines brightest when the whole ensemble cast are blasting their way through a Mozart, Elgar or Tchaikovsky with bombastic irreverence and grins on their faces.

The audience love it: the show has the same camp energy and entertaining exuberance as productions like We Will Rock You or the Rocky Horror Show.

Added to that, the skills of the musicians, dancers and singers in Barockestra are impressive and perfectly-suited to this whistle-stop tour through the classics, which you would have to be as deaf (and as dead) as Beethoven not to enjoy.

Ticket information is available on the Universal Arts website

Review by Keith D

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