Oh, my giddy aunt!

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.

Toodle pip!

Shaking all over……

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.

I need some beauty sleep!

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!

Toodle pip!

 

Flyerers are our friends

Don’t laugh! Okay, so I refer to those flyering their own shows, those who put themselves up for rejection, ridicule and some downright rudeness. Have you ever actually tried to engage with one? And I don’t mean listening to their autospiel – that’s almost like a security blanket they can hide behind; smile and ask a question, there’s often a realignment pause as they realise you’re still standing there interacting with them. I’m not saying chat to every flyerer, crikey, the thought of it! Some shows you know are definitely not for your thing, but if something, anything, makes you smile or think, like the flyerer’s attire or manner, the glimpse you caught of the flyer, pause a moment.

I spotted him in a pretty authentic-looking WW1 uniform so 20190808_154012trotted over to find out more. He’s a personable chap, one Shane Palmer over from Melbourne, the performer and writer of Echoes Of Villers-Bretonneux, on at 3.10pm at Greenside@Nicolson Square (a venue I’ve never been to before so I had a little nosy around – nice cafe). So glad I did notice him as it was an excellent one man play, both in the conception and performance. The minimal set of a multi-use wooden pallet was great and I have to admit I didn’t know about puttees before; sure I’ve seen plenty of old pictures of men in army uniforms but didn’t realise the lower leg part was a long strip of cloth wound spirally around the calf. Just the detail of him putting them on and taking them off while recounting his story fascinated me.

Another chap in a hat, this time a woolly one with a furry bobble (the hat not him), flyering his own one man show Will Penswick: Nørdic(k) along with Mark & Haydn : Llaugh – a flyer has two sides, I admire the camaraderie and economy of this idea (both shows are at Just the Tonic at The Caves in Just The Wee One). I’m not hugely into Scandi noir but I do like it and thought a send-up of it could be fun. Oh yes, indeed! And he was going for full audience participation, well, there weren’t many of us at the performance, mind we were quite a bunch of oddities, and we were all up for embracing the moment.

Though, and here comes a mini-rant, some folk wandered in about twenty or so minutes after the start, wtf?! It’s one thing someone coming ten minutes late (which someone did) but over twenty minutes into a show?! Just because it was Pay What You Want (ie you can go without a ticket and just put into the bucket at the end) shouldn’t mean you wander in whenever, just a touch of exasperation escaped Will’s composure, he is a professional (just as well it was his show, some comedians would have ripped them apart for such an offence). He kinda got his own back getting one of them up for a part that required remembering something that was mentioned in the first twenty minutes, he did get in a good-natured dig about it! Will did come across well, keeping in character while putting his audience at ease. As I said before, there weren’t many there but this is a great show and deserves way more people seeing it, though I doubt he’ll forget the day I was there, no, not because there was a moose there, hell there were folk way weirder than me there!

And if you read my last post you’ll know The People’s Boat people also enticed me in by flyer. So if you’re at the Fringe, or any other Festival around the world, take a moment, have a chat, remember flyerers are human too.

Toodle pip!

Adrift on the Mile…..

Ho, yes. I know a photo opportunity when I see one! Alas my photographer didn’t spot the sun glare off the flyer, tsk, it reads The People’s Boat on at Greenside at Infirmary Street at 9pm (I do quite like this venue, it’s an old school, a building with character, and a place I’ve never seen a duff show). If I’m looking a little pensive its because I was imagining us being swept away by one of the sudden monsoon deluges plaguing Edinburgh at the moment.

So did I see the show? Yes I did and it was bloody good! I was slightly concerned at the start that it may be a bit too political for my taste, but no, it’s more political commentary and an insightful look at human weaknesses. For example, when one of the actors isn’t happy at playing a racist character for fear of being personally tainted by it, the others rationalise it (with what I thought was a brilliant example of Anthony Hopkins and Hannibal Lechter) but also make snide jokes at the same time, and then they all use the flimsiest of excuses why they can’t play that part. I know that whole scenario so well; if it doesn’t resonate with you, its probably because you’re the one doing it to an unfortunate colleague.

They also brought up the now thorny issue of who’s allowed to act what parts, handling it very well I thought in a no-nonsense way. Personally, yes, I can see that disservices have been and are still being done, but also, it is acting! Acting is all about pretending to be something you’re not.

The whole play-within-a-play was very meta, with great lighting effects for the switches between the two. Before the first switch to the actors I could feel a slight uneasiness in the audience, the laugh when it came was from a sense of relief! We’d been let it on the joke and were now all in the same boat. It reminded me of Brendon Burns’ show back in 2007, but he just kept going and going, pushing it right til the end when he finally let us in on the gag, oh how we laughed (and slightly wanted to hurt him for putting us through all that).

But was it funny, Brucie? Yes, indeedily. It’s funny and witty as well as sharp and insightful. The four lads are great, slipping seamlessly between actors and characters, and they bounce off each other really well. Definitely a company to watch out for at future fringes!

 

Let’s hit the Hut….

And just like that the previews, the 241 days and Black Wednesday are behind us, only two and a half weeks to go! At least now the Half Price Hut is open. Let’s see what’s on…..

Flicking quickly through my eye is drawn to The Pat Hobby Stories at Gilded Balloon Teviot, hmmm. Oo, The Stander Gang is there, I saw this play last week after being flyered by the lads performing it. I enjoyed it, it was a little disjointed, but hey, there was a lot of story to put in; I did realise I’d heard of Andre Stander when I was speaking to them, a notorious policeman turned criminal in South Africa (a film was made of him starring Thomas Jane). They’re only on until Sunday 11th, So If you fancy it, be quick.

The Grey Cat And The Flounder is there, I do love this poster, it speaks to me! Mind, I also really like the poster for Monsoon Season but reading the blurb I have a niggling doubt about it. Maybe if it’s still at the HPH later in the Fringe when I’ve had a chance to see some reviews.

I see Modern Maori Quartet: Two Worlds is there, lovely chaps. I went to their Garage Party last week, noticed there’s a slight change in the line-up, gonna need another photo! The Three Deaths of Ebony Black and The Long Pigs are both there, I’ve seen them both, both shows are proper Fringe stuff. The Long Pigs was in the wonderful Assembly Roxy Central; the Roxy does tend to attract weird shows and this show really proves the point – it’s odd, it’s bizarre, it’s surreal and mesmerising. What’s it about? Erm, warped clowns, that’s all I’ll say; if ordinary clowns freak you out then this isn’t the show for you.

Goodness me, Max & Ivan are doing HPH tickets. Hmmm, I did used to quite like them but the last couple of times I saw them I wasn’t keen in the direction they seemed to be going in. Moon: We Cannot Get Out is there, I saw that last night and quite enjoyed it. I’ll clarify quite, some parts and some of their ideas were really good, but some just didn’t do it for me, having said that I will watch out for them again next year.

Guess I should get out and find some eggs benedict to eat before my first show, that’s Super Hugh-Man, ticket bought at the Half Price Hut yesterday evening. Another kiwi! Oo yeah, Laser Kiwi have tickets at the HPH too, just sayin’.

Toodle pip!

Just a quickie! Matron!

The trouble with Fringing is finding time to tell you about it, so I’m stealing some sleep time to mention a few highlights so far. Crikey, I need a fan on here, it’s a warm humid night after a warm humid day with the odd monsoon shower thrown in.

Shakespeare for Breakfast are on top form again this year, they’re so good and the writing is very witty and sharp, loved it. Goodbear and Sleeping Trees both 5☆ but I think Goodbear can have a + too (my scoring my rules).

Laser Kiwi, yay , brilliantly bonkers, incredibly bendy and I ❤ Imogen. And from Australia comes Echoes of Villers-Bretonneux, written and directed by Shane Palmer; I saw him in full gear flyering on the Mile, well, I do like a man in uniform so I was persuaded! Poignant and understated, quite moving.

The Shark Is Broken is directed by Guy Masterton, so of course it’s great, and fan of Jaws will love it. And last but definitely not least, I’m not long in from Nick Helm’s I Think You Stink, which I utterly and thoroughly loved. If you’re a fan of Rocky Horror then this is for you; great songs, great cast (including Rob Kemp, yay) and bubble wrap!!

Nightly night, sleep tight.

And so it begins……

Well, yesterday, it did and I reckon it’s gonna be seriously busy this year. People everywhere, new road closures in the old town, flyerers already out in force, monsoon rains intermingled with balmy blue skies, my first meringue David O’Doherty, eggs benedict. August in Edinburgh!

The Phoenix, Bear and Monster were great for starters last night. If there was a quota on swearing in shows I think Nick Helm will have put the number of c**ts still available well down with just his first preview. Maybe he thought there’d be some spare with Brendon Burns not being up this year! Still as shouty as ever, belting out songs Lemmy style, but, oh my, his butt – clad in the tiniest gold sequin shorts!! There is still work to be done, like learning all his lyrics, but you know his message at the end was quite on the mark; like an episode of South Park, offensive, funny and actually quite insightful.

Ben Pope and Alice Snedden were new to me, appearing in the Pleasance’s Bunkers Two and One. Be warned Bunker Two gets extremely warm before the hour is up, be sure to have something to drink with you. I was unsure of Ben Pope to begin with, he was amusing but it somehow lacked, then it seemed bright sparks of wit would leap out randomly which to me showed more of his personality and I liked what I saw. Ben, less doing of the routine, more of you, please.

Alice Snedden truly is a monster, very funny with it, mind. I’m not particularly believing of astrology either, but she is such a Leo! And her accent is so strong, I loved just listening to it, but some folk may find parts tricky to decipher; if you thought Australians and New Zealanders sound the same, you’ll learn otherwise here, along with plenty about Alice, she’s not shy on the subject – typical bloody Leo!

What ever happened to the sideburns?

So back in April Logan’s Close played the Voodoo Rooms with a new addition of a keyboard player – fine. Next thing, the new pics on FB only show four guys, four plus one should be five? Was it an aesthetics thing – sorry only four to a photo, five would be too much!? The drummer with the great sideburns seems to be oot of the picture, literally. The Close have a new single out soon, no doubt they’ll play Edinburgh to herald it’s arrival, and we’ll see who’s in or out. Same drummer, new drummer, drum machine?!?

It’s reminded me of one of my favourite Fringe acts, Dead Cat Bounce. They wrote a rather magnificence song about the day they fired the drummer, performed at the end of the show literally as though the other three had just agreed earlier that day to fire him. Nine years later I still laugh when I hear it, absolutely brilliant, but then Dead Cat Bounce were top class comedy writers and performers as well as being great musicians. They would most definitely be one of my Desert Island Fringe Acts!

Ironically it was the keyboardist who left the band just over a year later. Sadly the remaining trio only played the Fringe one more time in 2012, it wasn’t quite the same without Mick; and it put Outsized Orthopaedic Shoe and Four Lads off the playlist, shame. In 2013 they called it a day, well, playing live, until in 2017 they apparently did a 10th anniversary reunion show, and there’s a DVD of it!! I must hunt one down. I shall keep on with the occasional stalk to see what they’re up to, in case they reform proper!

The Penny Dreadfuls, particular favourites of mine, were originally a four-man sketch show when my buddy and I first came across them in their Victorian sketch show Aeneas Faversham. It was our favourite show that year, silly, surreal, clever, witty, and thoroughly British! The following year they pulled it off again with Aeneas Faversham Returns, by George, even Bud’s elderly maiden aunt loved it, especially the Invisible Man sketch – the one part we feared she would disapprove of! Why? Specimen 626 had escaped from the lab and they had to find him, he was invisible, at least to them on stage, we could all see Specimen 626 who was stark bollock naked! He was prancing around, jiggling about between the others talking trying to put them off, he even did a cartwheel across the stage! By the following Fringe Jamie (aka Specimen 626) had left them. Had the naked cartwheels been too much for him? So 2008 saw the Penny Dreadfuls down to a trio for Aeneas Faversham Forever, and they’re still loosely together, every now and again popping up on Radio 4 and Radio 4extra, besides following their own solo careers, occasionally popping up at the Fringe. David Reed is up for  four nights with Inside the Comedian and of course, Thom Tuck is up as usual doing lots of silly things with lots of silly people.

Just to show you there were originally four Penny Dreadfuls and also what an awesome act they are……

2019-07-16 19.14.09

behold, the Penny Dreadful playing cards! Yes, they didn’t just do badges, they had decks of playing cards! Three years in a row! The chap at the back of the middle card is Jamie. I wonder what became of him? And can he still cartwheel?

 

Now how do I put it in my phone calendar?

Yay! Today those lovely people at Assembly finally announced that their Edinburgh Locals £5 Tickets offer was back on again this year. I wasted no time in re-checking my cuttings and making a decision which six to go for (there’s a maximum of six and up to the end of the first Sunday night). I quickly got it down to nine, but which other three to drop? Ummm.

As it’s his final tour ever (so he says), Stewart Francis: Into the Punset would have been a definite contender but that 8pm timeslot knackers up so many other shows so no; plus he’s doing a full run and is on the Friends of the Fringe 241 list, so I may get to see him later with a chum. Modern Maori Quartet: Two Worlds was a thought. Yes, I saw it last year but it is really good – and at only a fiver! On the other hand my cuz may pop up for a few days and he’d love them, and I’m already going to their Garage Party show.

Also dropped for now as it would be the wrong time of the Fringe, much more suited to be a final week show (no, I don’t know why, it just is) is the magnificently titled John-Luke Roberts: After Me Comes the Flood (But in French) drop splosh splash drip BLUBBP BLUBBP BLUBBPBLUBBPBLUBBP!!

So what has made it into my Fringe diary? The lovely Sarah Kendall with Sarah Kendall: Paper Planes, and it’s just occurred to me, yes, indeed, same time same venue as two years ago! Also from Oz The Long Pigs claiming to be “spine-tingling original theatre” showing at the Roxy, very few duds seen there. Staying antipodean, Laser Kiwi a surreal sketch circus troupe, at a fiver it’s worth a shot.

Fringe regular Guy Masterton is directing The Shark is Broken, apparently a true story set during the filming of Jaws (what else with that title?) It is at eleven on the Sunday morning which could be hard after Saturday night, but I’ll just have to force myself to go straight home after Nick Helm’s I Think, You Stink, a musical comedy horror at the Roxy. And finally those Silly Funny Boys the Sleeping Trees, I wonder if they know what it’s about yet?!

Ha, who needs 241 Monday and Tuesday? If I knew how to spell it, I’d spell a long, fruity, loud raspberry. Yeah, I’ll be well into my Fringe before they even come round (bitter? moi?)

Toodle pip!