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‘All I want for Christmas is a new tank’

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Scotland’s only water escapologist Sue Martin from Lanton, near Jedburgh, needs a new tank.

For the one her son stuntman Jacob made two years ago is leaking and the family troupe’s winter vintage cabaret is about to go on the road.

So Les Amis D’Onno – which includes Jacob’s sister, Bethany – have gone online (www.kickstarter.com/projects/24237134/the-escapology-water-tank-is-leaking?ref=city) to raise the £1,000 necessary for a new perspex tube. Different pledges attract different prizes and donors of more than £100 win vouchers for lessons in stunt riding and other skills.

Self-taught artiste Sue said: “It (getting a new tank) means a lot to me and it would mean we would have a massive high point in our show.”

The vintage cabaret is a mix of recreated traditional acts from the 1900s to the 1950s and features knife throwing, performing dogs, magic, comedy strongmen, songs and dance, and, until this winter, the water escapology.

The 46-year-old mum said: “All acts are quite scary and skilled, and there’s an element of danger, but we like to put in a lot of fun in ours.

“Escapology was a pretty famous act. It’s mainly men doing it, mainly struggling in a sack, but I wanted to make it a bit more glamorous and a bit more feminine.”

Her act catches people unawares. She said: “I’m in my 1950s bathing costume and hat, it’s quite comic, then I drop into the (unheated) tank and they think ‘oh, my god, she really did that’. I started doing escapology about five years ago then, because I’m really good at swimming, I just decided: ‘I think I could do this in water’.

“I did the research and had a few trial runs. The first time I did it with chains I was nervous, but I had practised. Yes, it is claustrophobic, the tank is narrow: the worst bit is dropping down into it but once you’re in you just get on and actually escape.”

The family plan to build a base for the new tube, light it from underneath and perhaps put in bubbles. Sue also hopes to install a heater which would allow her to prolong the act. So far the campaign has raised £420 – and the first show is at Southdean Hall, Chesters, on February 1.

The vintage cabaret evolved after the Martins staged a similar one to raise money for charity, and “it just took off in its own right. It’s become so popular,” said Sue.

“It’s really good old-fashioned family entertainment. There are a lot of shows that are burlesquey. Anything we do that is risque goes over kids’ heads, it’s really safe for families to come and see.”

New in the vintage cabaret this year will be Bruno the Labrador in an act involving cup cakes and a mixer.

The family started performing their horse cabaret and stunts in France more than 10 years ago, before moving to the Borders five years ago. They are now Scotland’s only jousting team and Jacob also works as a film stunt man.

 

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