There’s nowhere quite as good as Greyfriars Cemetery for a few Hallowe’en shenanigans. There are more pics on my Facebook page, that’s Bruce T. Moose (and no the T doesn’t stand for what you might think it does).
Happy Hallowe’en 👻👻🎃
So Hi anyone looking at this. Never done anything like this before but have been musing on doing a fringe blog for, oo, the last four years. So finally I’m taking the plunge! The first fringe show I saw was way back in 1985, The Bald Prima Donna at Buster Browns on Thursday 22nd August for £2. That Prima Donna keeps coming back every year, still bald as a coot. So if you fancy a stroll along the byways and alley ways of my Fringe experiences, feel free to drop in.
Like I said, I’m new to this so there’s gonna be plenty mistakes (though at least my typing seems ok for a moose) as I’m not really up with this modern technology stuff. So wish me luck and do check in again!
Yes, I know I said “tomorrow night” over a week ago, but I’ve been busy! Yes, busy, sleeping, working, eating. I haven’t even got round to seeing Tarantino’s new film yet, though I did manage to squeeze in Toy Story 4 (again), well, it is such a perfect film (to me, maybe not to you, but it is to me) and it left me feeling all happy and fuzzy.
Happy and fuzzy are good, see that’s how I like my last evening of the Fringe to be, I like a happy, bittersweet ending. But what did I do this year? Will had already left, I felt a tad bereft! Why, Mr Seaward has been rounding off my Fringe since 2013, yes, that’s the year before he started his Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories. Let me take you back…….
Monday 26th, it was a balmy evening, myself and a few friends were drinking in the Pleasance Courtyard, well, continuing drinking after the wonder that was the final Monday show of Tim Fitzhigham: Challenger (there are those who will remember the significance of it being a final Monday show for Tim, I shall just say, legendary!!). Flyerers were hovering around, desperately trying to tempt punters into one last show; we all had work in the morning and the alcohol was fast taking effect, so no amount of cajoling could sway us but we lapped up the attention. We had a right laugh with them all, generally waylaying their spiel with “So how’s your Fringe been?” plenty were happy to sit and blether before heading off to find more potential victims.
As we sat basking in a warm alcoholic glow, and I’ll quote from my Fringe diary here “a ruddy-faced, Crystal Tipps-haired chap came over to entice us to his show, we explained it would be too late (11.30pm) but invited him to sit down and join us a while and he did. Turns out he did the Bouncy Castle shows a few years back ……….Inevitably we later decided to head to Teviot to see him.” Yes, that was Will, and we were all so charmed and drunk that we agreed just one more last show would be fine!
So we turned up for Will Seaward: Socialist Fairytales! in The Turret, front row seats, we had no fear, we had more beer! I do recall Will got one of my friends up on the stage to play a witch, the idea being he had to fight the witch and she should try to get him to the ground, he wasn’t actually expecting her to almost succeed! He admitted later that she wasn’t as drunk as he’d thought, but she was drunk enough to be determined to achieve what he’d asked of her. What a great Fringe ending, and with that a new tradition was born.
Aaaand back to 2019. For the first time ever I took the final Monday off work, well, I did have my guest still up and thought I might start some tidying round (Yeah, right, the tidying was never gonna happen). I’d bought two tickets with my Friend of the Fringe deal to see A Midsummer Night’s Droll on the Monday morning before my guest headed for the train, however a late change of plans meant an earlier train back, so I ended up going on my own, ho hum. Not that I minded, I’d picked that show as they’re one of my favourite companies of the last few years and I’d get to see Titania again! Yay!
So what did I finish 2019 with? Well, the tried and tested method myself and Bud had, was to see again something we’d seen near the start and really rated, something silly and totally Fringe. Previous last shows have included Jeremy Lion, Otis Lee Crenshaw, the Les Clöchards, and the Penny Dreadfuls (three times!). Something silly and totally Fringe, a surefire brilliant show I’d seen before…..what a minute! What about an added bonus of a show seen – but also not seen before, a show as random as the spin of a wheel! Russian Roulette!
As Will had departed, our host for the evening was Sullivan Brown (looking very dapper in a sparkly jacket), presiding over the night’s production of Chekhov’s The Seagull. I’ve never seen The Seagull before – some may say I still haven’t seen it. Oh, it was marvellous, I was riveted! The plot seemed a little bizarre but hey, it’s Russian, maybe that’s how they roll. I felt for Konstantin, and poor Nina getting dysentery, and the chap who had a faberge egg for a head!! I wasn’t expecting Rasputin to show up, and that impression he did of Christopher Walken? Mind-blowing! But how did Donald Trump get there? Okay, so I remember that it turned out to be set in space, but did I miss some time travel bit?! Oh yeah, that roulette wheel may have had something to do with it 😆
I just was up pottering round the kitchen, so I stuck the radio on (decided it didn’t really become me, so I put it back on top of the bread bin), ah, Just a Minute, yay! Wait, what? That Gyles Brandreth was getting a tad presumptuous declaring who got a point, Nicholas will sort him out ….. er, Mr Parsons? Um, not there! But this show was clearly recorded at this year’s Fringe, where is he?
A scramble round to locate an object with Google (no, I don’t have Alexa, I don’t reckon we’d get on) and a few minutes of frantic tapping later, and I’m ok, he’s ok, phew! Well, he is getting on, 95 years old and has only missed one other JaM recording, coming in after the start and not hearing his dulcet tones is definitely cause for concern.
Gyles Brandreth did make a pretty good go of being chairman, is he looking to the future and making a bid now for the seat? Yes, sadly it will inevitably happen at some point, Nicholas will ascend to that great game show in the sky – just think of all the marvellous line-ups available! On the one hand Mr Brandreth does like to talk at length and battle his corner against his opponents, would he want to give up the cut and thrust of competing? On the other hand, listening to him, he may well relish the power to award points and to pontificate chairmanly, hmmm.
Would Just A Minute even continue without Nicholas Parsons at the helm? To many this would be unthinkable. After all, we can always jump into the archives for classic Parsons JaM, if we so wish. Indeed, I am in the “unthinkable” party, but, isn’t it great hearing newer voices come on, getting to grips with JaM? Unlike some comedy shows, comedians cannot rely on their bank of material for JaM, they have to be quick-witted, attentive and eloquent. The show today had Mark Watson on it, a lovely funny chap but his speech pattern does seem to naturally include a lot of hesitation (ok, and he’s fairly new to JaM as well); I did enjoy Kiri Pritchard-Mclean, I thought she found her spot somewhere through the show, then really got into it, her name is now on my radar.
It has been said that Just A Minute will finish when Nicholas Parsons goes, but didn’t we all think the same about I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue after Humph died? I for one quickly recognised Jack Dee as a very natural successor, his deadpan, irritable style fitted in perfectly. But thankfully that time is not is not yet upon us (he says, just quickly checking BBC News), and long may that be so. In fact, if Nicholas Parsons makes it to 100, I think that day should be declared a National Holiday, who’s with me? 😆
My, Mr Will is a popular fellow! I put up a pic of him and myself from Sunday night on Facebook – never had so many likes for a pic before (I’m telling myself they’re all charmed by my good looks😆). But what’s this? Sunday night? Why didn’t I save my return visit to WSSMGSVI until the last night of the Fringe as is my usual? Because he was deserting us a day early, that’s why! Not only that, but Sunday night’s show was the last ever (yeah, that’s right not just of this Fringe but all Fringe) of Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories! What! No more Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories to give me the willies? No more adventures for Louloulou and Clarence? Well, not at the Fringe anyway, but I do believe it’s not the last we’ve heard of them…………
What a great finale it was to a brilliant run of these last six years. Sillier, spookier and surrealier than ever, yes, I’m having surrealier as a word, bite me! We oooed and aaahed, screamed and shrieked, we egged Will on as he tried to warn us of impending doom, he beguiled us with his tales, neatly lacing them together by the end. The end was met with rapturous applause, as were his many thanks to crew, friends, everyone at Gilded Balloon Teviot, any time he paused basically. Some lovely person even made him a cake dripping with blood (strawberry icing) to mark the occasion.
I took my leave going on for two o’clock, as the survivors headed for one more drink to see Will off. Oh, I was tempted to join them but I was also feeling very knackered from too many late nights and early mornings with my houseguest. Ah, the end of another era, but such is the nature of the Fringe.
So, what did you do on the final night, Brucie?
I’ll tell you tomorrow.
And I am one frazzled moose! The late nights have caught up with me, but no rest for the wicked! I have been wicked, or at least very remiss, in my lack of ukulele practice this last week preferring instead to gad about the Fringe. It rather showed tonight at class as we practiced our tunes for the Big Beach Busk at Porty on Saturday. Yikes, I am so not ready for it!
I need more sleep, like, so much sleep, not even strong coffee was keeping my eyelids open at work.
Here’s a pic from last night’s fireworks.
Nite, nite, peeps!
Suddenly in August I get phone calls “So how’s Edinburgh? I was just wondering…..?” The rest of the year hardly a peep, not that I mind that; I did think I’d gotten away with it this year, usually a call comes at the start of August not half way through. Of course, I still have things I want to see, and my moose cave, well, when I say it’s a pit, I mean it’s really a pit right now, like the pittiest pit ever, August is not a month for cleaning.
And what to take them to? Good call that I bought two tickets with my Friends of the Fringe discount for Sleeping Trees: Christmas Special, if they don’t find that funny they’re dead to me! I’m thinking of Privates: A Sperm Odyssey too, any excuse to see it again, truly epic in silliness. Eggs Benedict at Em’s Kitchen is a must. Oo, yay, Logan’s Close are playing at the Cowshed tonight at 10pm, its probably gonna be heaving, but not to be missed.
I should go and at least do some washing up, I suppose. Show willing, play the host. Wonder if I’m gonna get a call that they got lost after leaving Waverley Station? Said they knew where to come, hmmm.
Friday of week two is a good day to take off work and Fringe, most years I’ve done this; it was always a day for seeing pricier shows that were on the Friends of the Fringe list for me and Bud, always beginning with Shakespeare for Breakfast, we’d snaffle any croissants left on nearby seats at the end. This year it just happens to be one the days I’ve taken off work, but thinking about it, it is indeed a perfect day to Fringe. It’s shortened the working week, woohoo, which allows for later shows on Thursday night; it’s far enough in that the list of possibles has been whittled down from it’s original unwieldy size; it’s also far enough in that other possibles are in the mix, from chatting to flyerers, tips from people in queues, reviews.
Just as well I didn’t go to any late night shows on Thursday night – the first show I saw on the Friday started even earlier than Shakespeare for Breakfast! Okay, so only five minutes earlier, but still, my Fringe Friday tradition of running to get to the first show on time ain’t gonna end with early starts like this! Headhog was only on for six days of the middle week, the blurb was that a man has a scan after having a fit and discovers he has a hedgehog living in his skull. No one can explain how it got there and removal of it is (obviously) unknown territory.
Headhog was a charmingly absurd play; a great concept to mull over. I liked Malcolm, the turmoil he was going through was well played out. When he becomes more concerned by the “why me?” than “how?” the scene with the ecologist and philosopher was great – amusing and exasperating. Some of the play felt a bit clunky but overall it was well done, with a lovely melancholy ending that was somehow quite uplifting.
Two hours later I was back in the same venue, Paradise In The Vault, in the Annexe room, one of the best smaller venues; the seats are generous and comfortable, with a reasonably tiered-height between them, it’s also got a good record with me for good productions.
The Man From Verona was a very funny, dark comedy, quite farcical at times. It is quite a small stage but the set was well-conceived to maximise use of every part of it. Everyone was great in it, especially Mama – don’t mess with a mafia matriarch! Rocco, her henchman, had some wonderful moments. The Man From Verona himself is a mafia don/landlord, Harry, who spends a lot of the play dead, but is very effective when he’s alive. Blaze and Jimmy, our secretly-in-love couple are the ones we’re rooting for, will they get to be together? Will Jimmy ever be able to leave the bathroom?
From Paradise in The Vault on Merchant Street it was a quick jog over to the Space @ Surgeons Hall, with just ten minutes to spare before The Very Well-Fed Caterpillar started. Another trustworthy venue, I see they’ve moved their Box Office to just inside the gate, probably to cut down some of the noise in the foyer though the queue inside was still regularly told to hush – with more and more people joining in the sssssshhh-ing for a laugh.
The Very Well-Fed Caterpillar is one weird show! It’s extremely quirky and absurd, a great piece of high-energy physical theatre and hell the delivery is fast, it can be tricky to keep up with the plot at times. I followed the basic story, Caterpillar likes eating, can’t stop, won’t stop eating, demands all the food his subjects have, a complete tyrant hated by all; through a portal he meets and falls in love with the Butterfly King, a good, beloved ruler; Caterpillar tries to change his ways, err, the ending escapes me! No matter, the destination is unimportant, the journey there is loads of fun with this talented, enthusiastic bunch.
After a breather, a beer and a bite to eat, I headed to Boteco on Lothian Street for Privates: A Sperm Odyssey and though it’s a PWYW show instinct told me to buy ticket upfront; good call as a lot of folk had tickets, I doubt many without made it in. Oh my, how much utterly joyful daftness can one hour contain??!! Blimey, never have sperm been so funny! These three chaps, Luke Rollason, Christian Brighty and Tom Cufzon have created one bloody wonderful show. And I’ll never hear the name Darnell again without a smirk on my face!
So, four for four, and it was only half past six! At this point of such a brilliant Fringe day picking the next show is trickier, it’s like, it’s gone too well, don’t mess it up. I decided to take a chance with Ava Beaux: The Mysterious Tales of Poe at the Revolution Bar as part of PBH’s Free Fringe. The blurb promises macabre minds, magic and gothic tales. Ava has been at the Fringe before and I’ve always been a tad tempted so tonight was it. Well, it was lovely, good magic and a charmingly dark sense of humour, but it came across as too rehearsed and some how contained, she needs to get wilder?! The venue wasn’t the best though for her show, too many distractions which hampered the ambience Ava was going for. I did enjoy it but not half as much as the previous shows.
As the night was still young I took a wander up to the Squares, Bristo and George, plenty of ambience there. Flyerers, buskers, young chaps trying to hang on to a high bar for 100 seconds (a tenner a shot, £100 to any who can do it, I’ve seen many try but none succeed), bright young things out to party, older things blethering to other old things only met in Edinburgh in August. The melting pot that is Fringe.
After seeing thirty six shows in the first eleven days I took a bit of a breather, that’s not to say I didn’t wander out to savour the atmosphere, chat to flyerers, mooch around Bristo Square. Mind, I didn’t go out any more than necessary last Sunday, a very very wet day indeed; the old moose cave did need a bit of a tidy round too.
Tuesday I dipped my toe back in, going to see the loveliest man on the Fringe, Aidan Goatley, once again at Sweet Grassmarket. Mr Goatley has a brand new show this year Aidan Goatley: Happy Britain Part I. I knew about his idea to find the centre of all 105 counties in the UK and to ask who ever he finds there what makes them happy, but what happened? Why Part I? Let’s face it, it was a pretty huge undertaking, so bad news – he didn’t manage it as quickly as first envisaged, as so often happens in life; good news – there’s Part II to look forward to next year (touch wood!).
We hear all about the ups and downs of his attempt, along with amazing stories about the folk he’s met on his travels, oh, I could have sat and listened to him all evening, such a wonderful raconteur. Alas the show came to an end, a lovely end which sent us all back out into the world uplifted, glowing with warm fuzziness (like the old Ready Brek advert). In fact after getting home that evening I just had to dip back into his book Never Eat The Buffet at a Sex Club* (*contains no food or sexual references), a collection of his previous work. It was almost like he was in the room reading to me 💛
I can’t believe I haven’t yet given a mention to Russian Roulette, how remiss of me! Yes, they’re back again, the new, improved version, well, it’s an upright roulette wheel, more visual I guess. No longer down in the hidden warren in La Belle Angele, Russian Roulette are in the Balcony room at Gilded Balloon Teviot at 10.15pm (which gives Mr Seaward just forty five minutes before he’s back on stage for more Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories!). Be warned, it is a tad warm in there, grab a cold drink to take in with you.
The evening I went Crime And Punishment was taken for a spin. The play begins as normal, then the horn sounds, the wheel is spun and things get odd! The number landed on dictates how the play progresses – there are thirty seven bizarre ways to proceed with titles like Borscht Surprise, Beard Ban and I’m Stuffed, luckily, our host Will Seaward is on hand to explain what each means to our unfortunate actors. Our brilliant ensemble have to battle on through the play never knowing when the horn may sound again to add more confusion to the plot.
Yes, this is as bonkers as it sounds and more!! Our players are most excellent, a seriously talented troupe. Really, you will laugh your socks off! Oh, and the lovely Mr Sullivan Brown is usually flyering near Bristo Square before the show, do go say hello.
You know me, I do like a little Shakespeare with my Fringe! As ever, I’ve had my breakfast date with C Theatre, of coffee and croissant and their latest shenanigans, and as ever they were bloody brilliant! Shakespeare for Breakfast don’t flyer or have posters around the town, at least I’ve never seen any of either, the blurb in the Fringe programme is fun and intriguing enough to pull in newbies (and just having Shakespeare in the name helps) and there’s plenty of fans like me who go every year.
This year’s frolics put Romeo & Juliet in two warring coffee shop families. The puns were flying thick and fast with fine comedic timing; for all the fun these guys are wonderful actors who are skilled at their craft, making it look effortless. I see this year they’re also doing an evening show Shakespeare Up Late! at 9.35pm, the blurb reads “from sex toys to soliloquies”, I think we get the idea! Yay, it’s at C Aquila aka Roman Eagle Lodge, a favourite (if a tad warm) venue of mine. I shall be getting me a ticket.
Last week saw the wonderful Tim Fitzhigham and Thom Tuck take to a makeshift stage in the basement of Black Medicine to perform Macbeth in one hour. And if that wasn’t absurd enough, each day they had a different director adding to the mix, the evening I was there it was Ahir Shah, okay, so I’d never heard of him before but he was rather lovely and very funny (worth checking out, I think).
Tim and Thom together with Shakespeare, it doesn’t get anymore Fringe than that!!! Both eloquently silly, nonchalantly charming, achingly funny, and bloody good at what they do! They did include plenty of actual Shakespeare along with the laughs and Thom ended up in a long black dress and a wig as Lady Macbeth, yeah, I did half expect that to happen! I do hope they team up again another year, the chemistry between them is too wonderful not to be repeated.
The Owle Schreame are back with A Midsummer Nights Droll. So that’s Shakespeare with the dull, boring bits taken out and the comedy bumped up (not a thousand miles from what Shakespeare for Breakfast do today, but this is from 350 years ago). That’s the very abbreviated version, if you go to see them at Gilded Balloon Teviot (at 10.45 in the morning!) then you’ll hear a history of Droll from Brice Stafford at the start of the show – its worth going just to listen to his magnificent voice.
Actually it’s an whole ensemble of magnificence and mischievery, performing with glee and boisterous enthusiasm (the singing of Cuckoo’s Nest was particularly bawdy). And Titania! Be still, my beating heart! Beautiful, strong, coquettish, a woman who knows what she wants – never was Titania so lovely! Oh, and a special mention to Cobweb, Peaseblossom and Mustard Seed, a talented wee trio. The lion costume has had me musing on my Halloween costume this year, I reckon I could make myself a pretty good mane like that!
So I’ve seen three of Will’s big ones and have noticed there’s also Noir Hamlet on at theSpace @ Venue 45, that would make up a nice set I reckon.
Anyhoo, my bed awaits.
Adieu, kind friends.
Crikey, it’s way past bedtime, I’ve got work in the morning, oh and the neighbours have just started arguing, joys! Here’s me needing my bed and Will Seaward will have just begun his midnight show, Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories VI once again in the Dining Room at the Gilded Balloon Teviot. Yes, there’s more spooky shenanigans going on, and yay, there’s the return of Louloulou and her boyfriend (whose name escapes me just now) in one of the stories. This is definitely not a show for everyone, but if you like bonkers, daft, eloquently told yarns then it may just suit!
Oo yeah, last Friday night at 22.55 I saw The Slinks in Dexter at the Underbelly Bristo Square; a show sure to divide opinion and bewilder – I’m not what I witnessed but it was whimsical, disturbing, mesmerising, kooky. Hugo Hamlet’s voice was sublime, very much reminding me of early Lou Reed. I have a friend who would so totally love this show, alas I doubt she could ever manage to stay up so late, pity.
Also a pity was the lack of audience, there was myself, two others and a couple of staff sat in. I guess the late time slot and the fact that they’re not listed in the paper-form Fringe Programme, just on the online version, may be contributing factors. If you fancy a trip to another realm one night The Slinks can take you there!