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Coppélia Edinburgh Fringe 2017

3rd – 28th of August, 3pm Palais Du Variété, George Square Gardens
Assembly Festival

The infamous ballet of a mechanical doll is stripped bare, swallowed and spat out through the compelling voice of contemporary circus. The powerful story of infatuation, mechanisation and domination will be realised in an experimentally surrealist, multidisciplinary fashion. Circus, 16mm film and spoken word sit side by side in a unique examination of love: paternal, possessive, unrequited, unknown. Coppélia explores what happens when desire dominates reason, when jealousy leads sanity astray and when, as so often in love, all is not quite as it seems.




Show Photos by Roberto Ricciuti


Show photos by James Wodsworth



EdFringe ►

‘The Feathers of Daedalus Circus are an emerging contemporary circus company that transgresses all convention in genre, style and gender.’

‘this theatrical funhouse of circus and ballet fits perfectly into the fringe. Copellia is an intelligent exploration of a concept that is entirely relevant and defies convention in content and style. It is a must see for anyone looking for something new and exciting.’


EdFringe Review 2 ► 

‘This debut production by The Feathers of Daedalus Circus is a powerful display of love, lust and jealousy.’

‘The show reinvents this 19th century ballet combining elements of circus, dance, spoken word, film and gymnastics. Rather than jarring with one another, these seemingly clashing mediums are beautifully interwoven, as a piece of classical ballet will seamlessly morph into modern dance, whilst the overlaying music transforms itself into breathless poetry. Indeed, the delicate handling of these interconnecting art forms becomes a metaphor for the clockwork doll at the centre of the tale, with each part of the production coming together to breathe a life like no other into the performance.’

‘This re-imagination of ‘Coppelia’ is a spectacle of jaw-dropping beauty infused with modern relevance, resulting in a wonderfully thought provoking performance. Not one to miss.’


WeeReview ► 

‘There are impressive acrobatics from Peter Shirley and Gabbie Cook as Franz and Swanhilda, the former becoming entranced by the doll, Coppélia; the strength and suppleness of the dancers is at times extraordinary but it is the poetry by Sophie Leseberg Smith which runs alongside the performance that is perhaps the most memorable feature of the production. That, and the intriguing narration by Joanna Vymeris, the innovative young director and producer of this fledgling company.’

‘the performances are entertaining and the construction of the show intelligent. It is early days for the company but they have started strongly and can use this as a platform to build from for next year.’


British Theatre Guide ►

‘The skills of the young performers are truly breathtaking at times. Dr Coppelius backflips off of his creation’s shoulders, Swanilda drops from the top of the central tent pole and catches herself before she hits the ground and, in a reverse of ballet norms, Coppelia takes her creator’s weight in several dramatic balances. It’s a pleasant role reversal for a story that can be a troubling watch from a feminist perspective.’

‘This production sees the classical ballet story of Coppelia imaginatively reworked for George Square Gardens’ circus and cabaret venue, the Spiegeltent.’


Fringe Review ►

‘Coppélia is an awe-inspiring debut for The Feathers of Daedalus Circus. Conceptually excellent, this production is limitless in ambition and fantastically executed. Combining flawless dance with film, spoken word and music, this freshly original show is a joy to watch, and promises great things to come for this young, creative company.’

‘watching these dancers whirl and weave dreams around the kaleidoscopic circus space, I was enraptured and invigorated by the wonderful potential of the human body. All moved with epic strength, grace and unbelievable ease, revealing not only of very special talent, but of admirable levels of hard work.’

‘Coppélia used the stage sensitively and thoroughly, exploring all levels of the space. Choreography was inventive, blurring ballet and angular modern dance. From the troupe of Dancers’ slick, synchronised floorwork, to Tessa Blackman as Coppélia’s stunning performance on the aerial troop trapeze and Peter Shirley as Franz’s masterful sequences in the spinning Cyr wheel, I was spellbound; entranced like Franz and unwilling to leave this circus fantasy.’

‘Structurally, the piece was tight, clear and very well-paced. Every action furthered the story with deliberation and an impressive lightness of touch. Recorded spoken-word poetry, eloquently composed by Sophie Leseberg Smith, voiced the characters’ thoughts, adding layers to the story and charging each dance with motive and emotion.’

‘The themes of the story were confidently conveyed: power, love, gender, desire, all playing tumultuously in the innovative duets between characters. Particularly transcendent were Dr Coppélias, danced by Josh Frazer, and his creation, conveying their fervent power dynamic with muscular beauty and tangible fire.’

‘Coppélia cannot be commended enough for its ingenuity, refreshing and transfixing directorial choices, and top class performances. Bodies moving like clockwork transported all in the tent on a rich, sensory journey. A darkly delectable treat.’


The Circus Diaries ►

‘Joanna Vymeris has theatrical ambition for dance that makes me think of a burgeoning Matthew Bourne’

‘In the role that could make or break this show, Tessa Blackman is superb as the enamel-eyed Coppélia, and it is her unflinching gaze that begins to add a touch of contemporary relevance to the piece as real, warm-blooded Swanhilda (Gabbie Cook) is passed over for the unnatural construction of aesthetic womanhood that can be controlled and manipulated by its possessor.’

‘I’ve enjoyed the delicious darkness behind the show’s pastel-pinks, and Vymeris is definitely a director to watch.’


Seeing Dance ►

‘Vymeris is to be commended for never losing sight of her story and characters, which are all nicely drawn. Unlike most circus productions that claim a narrative, she never relegates the tale to a distant back seat.’

‘Vymeris captures well the darker aspects of the tale that emanate from Coppélius, played nicely by Josh Frazer. “Divine woman, conquer my heart… Alive enough for the both of us,” we hear in the accompanying spoken text. At times, he is definitely in charge, as when he spins his Coppélia (Tessa Blackman) around, his hand in her mouth, but sometimes she seems to have a mind of her own, as when she grabs her or when she rises onto pointe, her maker on her shoulders.’


The Stage ►

‘this impressive young company have an interesting slant on the source material and its inherent creepiness. Notions of mechanised, idealised womanhood are as pertinent now as ever and the performers make bold attempts at conveying the obsessive nature of toy-maker Dr Coppelius and his machinations.’

‘There’s a flinch-inducing sequence in which he spins his beloved doll around with his hand rammed inside her mouth. But Coppelia the love-object has an uncanny agency of her own, neatly rising onto pointe with the doctor perched on her shoulders.’


Audience Reviews ►


Director/ Producer/ Dancer – Joanna Vymeris
Associate Director – Garreth Mattey
Assistant Producer – Mala Yamey
Assistant Producer – Gillian Vymeris
Designer – Connie Dent
Technical Director – Petr Vocka
Stage Manager – Lavinia Serban
Rigger – Scott Craig, Topher Dag

Coppélia – Tessa Blackman
Dr Coppélias – Josh Frazer
Swanhilda – Gabbie Cook
Franz – Peter Shirley
Dancer – Sharla Patterson
Dancer – Daphne Chia