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Voted: Best of the Fest

Nils Bergstrand stood out to me as an inspiring performer, of natural talent, ability and charisma, whose show not only has a lot of professional polish and highly enjoyable music, but also addresses his own story of how he became an amputee head on, and in doing so questions what it means to be “disabled” and hear “disabled stories”.

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Nils Bergstrand offer us a solo cabaret-storytelling show that centres on a personal event that transformed his life together. The story unfolds over an hour through a mix of narration from a diary, a stand-up comedy style, plenty of self-penned music, a little physical comedy, and moments of theatre.

This adds up to a cabaret built around a tragic story that contains lessons, twists and turns, and plenty of intelligent songs based around piano. Nils can sing, he has a deep, bass voice that he puts to the service of musical-style songs, and that voices often smashes the back of the theatre, sometimes with a fist of fury, and often a booming, but well articulated wit of a man using comedy to comes to terms with the pain of life. It’s variety singing, ranging the emotions and themes that arise from his story, a story that feels importantly and lovingly shared with us. The cabaret style ensures that we feel performed, not just to, but with.

A show that would benefit either from a baby grand rather than electronic keyboard, and perhaps even a full backing band, the show nevertheless is an exquisite piece of cabaret narrative anchored in music and story.

The story: “Taking us from an island in the tropics through 35 surgeries, amputation and tough rehabilitation, we learn how this one-legged man redefined himself, managed to cohabit with his disability and eventually to rise again.” This is a tale of personal change, a complex tale that arises from a simple, shattering moment.

Tbe One Legged Man Show is extremely well penned, as Nils reads extracts from his real diary and takes us skillfully on a journey that is full of insight, self-reflection and a continuing struggled to come to terms and make use of a single shattering moment in life that could happen to any one of us. When tragedy strikes, and we are in the wrong place at the wrong time, life then presents us with the paradox of wishing it had never happened, yet also realising that unexpected good can, and does, come if it.

Nils is a confident host, his songs are witty, wise and often pointedly funny. In this show we hear about one soul’s response to one moment in life. The script is mature, rarely too sentimental, and mostly powerful; powerful in the wisdom it has grasped through encounter, acceptance and struggle. The story explores how we remake ourselves, especially when change is forced upon us. This remaking process is rarely easy but can yield us the gifts of insight and change. We are not offered cheesy lessons in life, even if some of those lessons appear before us whether we want hem to or not: Accept life, embrace it, love yourself. These are not always things we choose wilfully – they are survival mechanisms.

The balance has been struck extremely well between the different elements in the show – comedy, music, narrative, and serious moments of theatre all blend well together to make a greater whole. The hour flies by and I wanted it to last longer – always a good sign. It’s a show that skillfully takes us into the shadows, guides us, teaches us without ever preaching to us too much (except at the very end which felt a little unnecessary).

The One Legged Man Show is a must see for its wit, wisdom, laugh-aloud moments and, most of all, emotional power. Don’t miss this fine work from the One Legged Man who, ultimately, walks wherever he chooses. He invites you to join him for an hour. I gladly accept.

Reviewer: Paul Levy
Reviewed: 18th August 2016

Nils Bergstrand was the first disabled person to graduate from the musical theatre course at London's Royal Academy of Music. He auditioned after a passion for singing revealed itself through therapeutic exercises in acknowledging positive responses to the world, undertaken to cope with the post-traumatic stress of losing his leg. This passion became the key that unlocked a new life direction, providing a counterbalance to the sense of loss that comes after an amputation.

In The One Legged Man Show Bergstrand performs his own songs at an electric piano, talks to us directly, and reads from a personal account of his experience. Whilst on holiday in Thailand in 2005, he was hit in the leg by a ricocheting bullet, fired accidentally by a security guard in a scuffle with another man. The bullet entered his calf, exited through the knee, and took out 6 inches of artery. We hear his story from the moments before the event, through the sensations of being shot, a near death experience, medical treatment in both Thailand and Sweden, and the psychological and social impact of his trauma, until he arrives at his current point in life. We see him in his wheelchair and later, partially obscured, he attaches his prosthetic limb and completes his story standing and walking.

A therapist once told Bergstrand that talking about his injury and its effects can be a healing thing, which is one reason the show exists. Another, though, is to provide an insight into the treatment issues and coping mechanisms that have led the man to where he is today and, perhaps, to provide solace to others who have their own relatable experiences. A question is also asked that, although never explored in the show, suggests a wider discourse around inspiration porn: why have we paid money to see a man with one leg?

A song in which Bergstrand body-shames others (based upon his particular wheelchair bound viewing angle of people's fashion choices) seems at odds with a show that is, at one level, about coming to terms with your own physical existence. Is it ironic that a man who experiences insensitive reactions, to a body that doesn't conform to societal ideals, does the same to others? The major message of the piece, however, is about choosing to go on living and find new things to live for. The closing rendition of I Am What I Am leaves us with an affirmation of acceptance and celebration of life. Reviewer: KK
Reviewed: 16th August 2016

Nils Bergstrand is the one-legged man in question, and this auto-biographical show charts his attempts to come to terms with losing a limb. He was shot in a bar in Thailand one fateful New Year’s eve (wrong place, wrong time – the bullet was never meant for him), and the subsequent amputation changed his life forever. Here, he uses musical theatre as a kind of catharsis, performing a series of original cabaret songs that take us through the dark times until we emerge to see a present that looks remarkably bright.

Bergstrand has a lovely singing voice, and there are moments here that evoke real tears (the song where he begs his girlfriend not to leave him alone is a standout). His diaries from the past reveal a tendency towards the poetic, and it’s certainly an affecting tale.

It does all feel a little earnest, a little – dare I say? – American, with the kind of self-help vibe that always makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. And the piano is too loud at times, so that I can’t hear all of the lyrics to some of the songs. But, overall, it’s a story worth hearing, and it’s great to know Nils has the happy ending he deserves.

Reviewer: Susan Singfield
Reviewed: 10th August 2016


The musical story of how one night changed a man’s life; funny & thoughtful, @1leggedmanshow is inspirational.


NAB Productions

The One Legged Man Show

The One Legged Man Show  @spotlites @edfringe

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Preview: Thurs 4th Aug
Fri 5th - Sun 28th August 2016

3:15pm (1 hour)

From Sweden

The One Legged Man Show  @spotlites @edfringe

A gunshot on New Year’s Eve on a beach in Thailand changed musical theatre artist Nils Bergstrand’s life forever.

Through original cabaret songs, we hear Nils’ inspiring story full of heart and, surprisingly, humour.

Taking us from an island in the tropics through 35 surgeries, amputation and tough rehabilitation, we learn how this one-legged man redefined himself, managed to cohabit with his disability and eventually to rise again.

An entertaining show from an internationally trained musical artist, full of charm, honest observations and personal wit creating a must see, heart-warming and enlightening production.

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Preview Thurs 4th: £9

£10 (£9 Concession)

Group discount: 10% off for groups of 10+
2for1 on Mon 8th & Tues 9th

Friends of Fringe: 2 for 1 anytime – only available from Fringe Box Office

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Venue 278. 22-26 George Street. EH2 2EP
Venue Box Office: 0131 240 2784

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