We’ve had a busy festival season in Edinburgh, and I’ve seen some brilliant shows with the younger two children. However, I always like to try and see at least one thing thing aimed at an older audience for my eleven year-old, Ben. After reading the description of 360 Allstars, I was confident that it would fit the bill:

‘A phenomenal physical performance exploring all forms of rotation, 360 Allstars connects the street with the elite to deliver a radical urban circus.’

Ben’s love of skateboarding has now lasted almost a year, so I was pretty sure that this would tick all the necessary ‘cool’ boxes alongside being entertaining enough for me! Needless to say we were not disappointed:

After a short bus ride into the city (to avoid the mayhem of parking), Ben, Katie and I joined a HUGE queue waiting to go into the Assembly Hall on the mound. I was cheered by this as crowds usually indicate a good event. NOTHING worse than being trapped as a audience of one!! After a short wait in some much needed Edinburgh sunshine, we all moved quickly into the venue to be seated in quite a sizeable venue.

The kids were immediately excited to see smoke drifting across the stage and to hear street music pounding. Katie began rattling off questions about when everything was starting but the lights dimmed soon enough.

360 AllstarsWe were introduced to the cast through a rap performed by Gene Peterson and Sam Perry who then bounced off each other throughout the show performing live music for each act. The mixture of vocals, beat boxing, drums and keyboard  – all blended by the wizardry of Sam Perry was really pretty cool. Whilst it isn’t the type of music I would normally listen to, I really appreciated the parts of the show that just focused on how they produced the different sounds and put them together. Ben was in no doubt at the end of the show that Sam Perry was his ‘favourite’, and whilst Katie struggled a bit with the volume, she couldn’t resist moving to the beat!

The rest of the show was comprised of breakdancing, BMX stunts, basketball tricks, and roue cyr (or stuff in a big hoop!). I think my overwhelming feeling through the show was just astonishment that people could actually do stuff like this – and full acknowledgment that I wouldn’t be able to in a billion years! It was a whirlwind of visual effects, AV projections, and astonishing feats of skill.

The ‘hoop guy’  – Rhys Miller – was one of the main highlights for me, just in the way he used the stage. I think it was here that sound and lighting really played a role in making things visually spectacular and bringing everything together seamlessly. The music for his set almost had a religious undercurrent, that just seemed to fit with the way he could move round the stage. It was almost like the noise you get from running your finger round the edge of a wet bowl, which of course was echoed in the way that he could roll round the stage in a hoop. I remember thinking at one point that really it was quite beautiful – perhaps not quite the ‘street’ response but I just thought it was mesmerising.

Overall though, we were all in agreement that our favourite was Basketball Man – or ‘the juggler’ as Katie understood him to be! This guy could just throw basketballs round in such an effortless way and his hands seemed like magnets attracting them back to him. He had the audience laughing, cheering, and in full appreciation that dribbling FIVE basketballs at once is really quite difficult!

However, that’s not to say the breakdancing, and BMX stuff wasn’t awesome! If I were to go again, I would make much more effort to get there early (and to the head of the queue) to get seats at the front as Katie (aged almost four) had difficulty seeing everything and had to sit perched up on my knee – fine for her but less fine for me!

Whilst the majority of the audience were adults, there were a fair number of children but I did notice they were a fair bit older than Katie. I know that she found the noise level a bit difficult and was ready to leave – but of course, has talked of nothing else all evening!

Thumbs up for 360 Allstars

If you’re in Edinburgh and have a spare afternoon, 360 Allstars are at Assembly Hall until 29 August.

Disclaimer: I received complementary tickets for this event, but all opinions are my own and not affected by this!

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