‘Awesome’ is a terrible word, but there’s no shame using it – in the truest sense – to describe Leapin’ Louie and his lethal range of doohickeys. Taking an ‘anything goes’ approach, the skilled lariat artist (a what now?) stuns adults into a dumbfounded stupor and gets kids – desperate for a turn on stage – flailing hands high in the air. Self-deprecating, open about blunders and sometimes bordering on the dangerously risqué (hanging and burka references are a tad uncomfortable), the man from a long line of “Lithuanian Jewish cowboys” goes all out, no holds barred.
Louie whispers, “that will probably work”. Let me tell you, Louie, that this show undoubtedly does.
For a show with cracking whips and revolving riata, it takes a while for the momentum to build; Louie seems to piece elements together on the fly (slapstick yo-yo suitcases, 60ft rope endurance, laughably sensual dances with an Argentine flavour). Once we reach the Edinburgh Kids’ Orchestra - a bunch of children of different ages drumming and trumpeting in sync with Louie’s effortless contact juggling - it’s obvious this guy knows how to entertain. The final parps will have you weeping with laughter.
The spectacle is terrifying at times: the whip can cut a can in half, guys. Toddlers on the front row struggled at those moments where the margin for error seemed low. The risk-taking definitely pays off, however, especially when the unicycle makes an appearance. (How is it possible to ride that thing in such a confined space?) The reckless energy is infectious, especially in this, the age of Health and Safety.
There are small touches (watch out for the remote control and devilishly dark humour) that make this much more than a dumbed-down CBeebies-ified extravaganza. Just before a death-defying trick involving toilet paper, Louie whispers, “that will probably work”. Let me tell you, Louie, that this show undoubtedly does. You’re happy to be in Scotland for the first time, and parents and children alike are overjoyed to have you.