IMA’s success at the world’s biggest festival
Our company’s immersive production of IMA was a resounding professional success at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the world’s biggest arts festival, receiving dozens of five- and four-star reviews, and a prestigious award. The production, directed by Bence Vági, was seen by almost 10,000 people over four weeks, with critics from the top British public and cultural publications writing superlatives about the “unmissable mystical journey”, an “astonishing dance theatre production” that brings the audience “close to nirvana”, while The Times said IMA was the most unique circus artwork in the Edinburgh Fringe programme.
“The experience is unlike anything I’ve ever encountered in theatre, this beautiful piece is completely captivating” concluded a reviewer for BroadwayWorld, a leading New York theatre magazine, impressed by the IMA’s atmosphere, “the space itself is incredible. The lights filter through the darkness as if from the stars, and the music makes it a magical experience”.
This August, our troupe was present at the world’s largest arts festival for the fourth time, with more performances than ever before: we presented our production IMA 112 times in four weeks. The immersive production received considerable international media attention before the festival, with leading British newspapers ranking the Bence Vági-directed production among the most anticipated at the Fringe. Critics from The Guardian named it one of the TOP 50 shows of the 2023 Fringe, and The Times listed it as one of the thirteen most spectacular dance, physical theatre and circus performances.
“From the very beginning of the festival, we felt that we were attracting attention, but we were also excited about how the production would be received by international critics and audiences,” said Bence Vági. The artistic director of our company added: “The success and impact of the IMA absolutely exceeded our expectations, it’s not every day that a Hungarian production receives five-star reviews in the world’s top newspapers, and it’s unusual that critics come back and leave our performance in tears again and again.”
What makes the Fringe special is not only the two and a half million visitors and almost four thousand productions on show, but also the presence of almost everyone who matters in the international performing arts industry: this year, 1,400 accredited producers, programme organisers, talent scouts and agents from 49 countries came to the Fringe, mainly to find the best shows for the theatre and cultural programmes of the upcoming years. William Burdett-Coutts, director of the Assembly, the festival’s biggest programme organiser, explained that with almost four thousand shows in Edinburgh, there is huge competition for the attention of audiences. “There are maybe ten shows that stand out of those thousands, that is not many at all, but IMA is definitely one of them, in fact it’s probably the highest quality show here,” he added.
It is no coincidence that the writers and professionals attending the Fringe were impressed by almost every aspect of the production. According to The List, “the show is a feast for the eyes, but even more nourishing for the soul”. They say the IMA sets a new standard for what can be achieved through solo aerial acrobatic performances. The Times said that “IMA’s strength lies in its tightly controlled, concise and slow perfectionist aesthetics”, and said it was the most unique and carefully crafted circus-based work in Edinburgh this year. “An unmissable, transcendental, immersive wonder, like being in the company of an angel – the must-see show of 2023”, says the London To Do List reviewer, who, along with many of the audience, tearfully exited the IMA’s installation at Murrayfield Ice Rink in Edinburgh to conclude that “Recirquel is truly the world’s most pioneering circus arts troupe”.
In addition to dozens of praising reviews, this year we also received the prestigious Seoul Arts Award, given to outstanding Fringe performances that overcome language barriers. Winners of the award are invited to present their productions in Seoul.
The success of the festival also means that the IMA will be performed in many parts of the world in the forthcoming years, from Canada to London and Australia.