altGirls who are boys, who like boys to be girls, who like to be flung around a mirrored tent, from half-naked man to magician’s cage… or something.

If you’re looking to raise the bar of your expectations for Edinburgh Festival shows, this is the one to see.

Think old fashioned circus mixed with lashings of Minnelli’s Cabaret, within the sexiest example of a mobile vintage venue in the world, and you might just get a hint of what to expect from this incredible show.

iOTA, the star, and the only man I have ever seen who can make hotpant-height lederhosen and Ziggy-esque make-up scream alpha male, led us through the fantastical highs and nightmarish lows of his life in the circus through a series of beautifully written and executed songs, interspersed with performances from classic circus caricatures, such as The Bearded Lady, exaggerated Strong Men Acrobats and the tap-dancing Vaudevillian.

Dark, deceptive, transfixing and magical, there was not a single aspect of any of the performances that was anything less than worthy of a five star rating. The Bearded Lady was somehow so beautiful; the camped up iOTA so commandingly hetero; the endlessly energetic Vaudevillian so tragic.

Immersed in a festival so keen and/or pressured to shock in increasingly far-fetched ways, it is refreshing indeed to come across a show that manages to surprise, amaze and woo its audience by using old-fashioned talent and techniques enhanced with a unique narrative, unrivalled physicality, an impeccable score and exceptional lighting.

This was a well-picked show for the 90 year old dame, The Famous Spiegeltent, to bring on her return to Edinburgh – the kind of Smoke that should provide her with a thoroughly deserved sneaky hit.

The Famous Spiegeltent, 9-30 Aug (not 16, 23), times vary

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