We all want to succeed, and yet being all too human means that we very often fail. Showing weakness might be seen as a kind of defeat, and yet the arts are also about revealing vulnerability, of being courageous enough to allow a crack in our armour, which is, in Leonard Cohen’s words, where "the light shines through". Three shows at the National Arts Festival express failure in variously outrageous ways. In Circus Schoenberg, a group of consummate musicians try to discover the "wrong note", while blowing bubbles, drinking wine and inflating large pool toys. In The Most Amazing Show, Corné and Twakkie return after a seven-year hiatus to do their utmost to create a spectacular show which is destined to flop in the most bizarre fashion. And, in a very different vein, Stephen Cohen returns to the festival to outrageously (and beautifully) face the ultimate failure, death.

Circus Schoenberg takes us on a wild ride through 20th-century music and its search for the essence of sound....

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