Amused mooses, ACMSs and now the Brucies

It’s late, I’ve been medicating my sore throat with strong dry cider, I think it’s working, or?! Anyhoo, Mesdames et Monsieurs, Welcome to the Bruce On The Fringe Fringe Awards 2022! These winners have been picked from 52 shows (not counting return views); there’s been some stiff competition this year – so I took a leaf out of the ACMS’s approach and made up awards to fit.

Best Zomcom: Apocalypse Kernow

Best Pomelo: Palimpsest

Best Sci-fi: Space Hippo

I’m still pondering Best Musical Moment, first nomination is the Miracle Glass Company performing Look At You Now (it was mighty fine)

Best Use of a Red Hat: The Man Who Thought He Knew Too Much

Most Macabre: Famous Puppet Death Scenes

Smartest Suited: The Flop – A Band of Idiots

Second nomination for Best Musical Moment is Blueswater performing The Wizard (epic)

Best Creepy Mouse Costume: Neil Frost – Nan’s House Of Fun

Best Hans Gruber Impression: Yippee Ki Yay

Most Tenacious: Aidan Goatley

Third nomination for Best Musical Moment is Nicole Smit for every moment she’s onstage

Most August: Thom Tuck

Best Kitchen Utensils: Steve and Shirley Sieve

Best Washing Machine Operator: John-Luke Roberts

Fourth nomination for Best Musical Moment is Accordion Ryan’s ability to go so low

Most Absurd Bird Impressionist: Luke Rollason

Best Avian Messenger Trainer: Christian Brighty

Best Furniture Movers: Grubby Little Mitts

Fifth nomination for Best Musical Moment is Carl Marah not falling off his stool in Binkies

Sweetest Fringe Thing: Accordion Ryan

Sexiest Fringe Thing: Rob Kemp

Silliest Fringe Thing: Crybabies – Bagbeard

And that’s it for this year. Pardon? Who won Best Musical Moment? I’m gonna take another leaf off ACMS’s tree and not bother declaring a winner.

Toodle pip!

this year’s Bruce On The Fringe Fringe award winners

The Fringe of ’22 is over

Its all done for another year, everyone’s left town, so many venues already look like there’s not been anything happening at all, even the streets are looking cleaner (yes, the binmen went back to work yesterday – was it really a strike or a dirty protest against the Fringe?!). At least I was able to console myself watching the Scat Rats yesterday evening in Whistlebinkies, and at the reasonable time of half nine! It’s Scotty boy’s birthday today, I’m sure there’ll be shenanigans afoot; just as long as he’s recovered by Friday when there’s a double dose of Marah and Rough – at five in Binkies, then down in Stramash at seven, sweet!

Anyways, you probably popped in for some end of Fringe waffle, like, did Accordion Ryan do a new song? Yes, he did and very good it was too, all about him seemingly giving off long term relationship vibes when, well, sometimes it’s nice just to have a bit of fun! Another clever, funny, slightly bittersweet song. It was a brilliant last show, a total blast, it’s gotta be ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. As is the usual with these things venue staff came along for a final send-off, I’m sure Ryan brought plenty of sunshine into their lives this last month (mine too!)

Earlier that evening walking up Blair Street I noticed that the Alternative Comedy Memorial Society Awards 2022 were taking place that night, obviously I had to get a ticket, what better way to round off the Fringe (especially in case nothing turned up on Monday)? Needless to say it was very silly, rather anarchic and quite random, like any evening at the ACMS. Thom Tuck managed to keep some semblance of order (Professional), or did a good impression of doing so. Throughout the show various nominees for Best Song went up and performed, my favourite was definitely John Robertson’s, short and very much to the point BINS!! As this was ACMS Awards there wasn’t actually an award for Best Song, of course not. The whole thing was done and dusted by around two thirty, a very reasonable time, considering.

announcing the winner of the Least Likely award

Monday? The few flyerers left descended on the remaining Fringers, by god, they had one last show to flyer and they were determined to got some bums on those seats! They circled around us like seagulls going for discarded chips, saying you already had a show to go to almost felt mean. Oh, I wasn’t just saying it, I did, the chaps from Out To Lunch were quite engaging so I bought a ticket, and that was my final Fringe show, in the afternoon! No final night, didn’t even bother with Binkies Open Mic Night, this slow, wheezing demise of the Fringe is no fun. Just end everything on the Sunday night!!! The last Monday gets more tragic each year.

Out To Lunch was rather good, by the way. It’s a comedy-musical but there’s not too much singing in it. Indeed, when the first song started I’d forgotten that it was a musical it was a fair way into the play, oh and the two male actors weren’t particularly musical when they tried to sing but that just made it funnier. Emily Cairns playing Angie made up for them, she has an awesome voice. I was amused by the main protagonist Marcus Tuckwell, a failing food critic, when I realised he was coming across like the bastard love child of Bernard Black (Black Books) and Jack Whitehall! Yes, I had that going on in my head.

Must finish, I’m hungry. There may be a ranty post later, possibly; well, a Fringe round-up that may become ranty. I may even get round to some Bruce T Moose awards this year, I’m feeling a tad inspired by the ACMS, Best Song nominees welcome!

Thom took his MC duties very seriously

Zombies, rats and hot tubs

First off a big WOOHOO!! and YAY!! for those Grubby Little Mitts who won an Amused Moose Award yesterday, brilliant news, well-deserved. Second, the Fringe is coming to an end, shows are starting to wind up (sniff!) and there are a few that I have neglected to mention how much I enjoyed them, in case anyone pays attention to what makes a moose smile. Here goes…

Aidan Goatley, the loveliest man on the Fringe is back with Aidan Goatley: Tenacious in ZOO Playground 1, a slightly out of the way venue to find but still very central. If you’ve seen Aidan before you’ll know what to expect, if you haven’t, like I said, he is a very lovely guy, you do not need to fear the front row (mind, he did demonstrate that without his glasses and a change of tone, with his size and tattoos he could come across as very menacing – and then he put the glasses back on, phew!). He always tells a great story, some older stories have come round again used as springboards into new material; he’s mentioned in previous shows that he started out in stand-up with the likes of Ramesh Ranganathan but Aidan’s not bitter, no, he’s bloody tenacious! ⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2

Nathan Cassidy is back with two shows, one at City Cafe (PWYC) the other at the Three Sisters (Free). I saw Hot Tub God in City Cafe in a small square room, comfy seats around the walls and uncomfy seats in the centre – there was just enough room for what audience there was to fit around the sides – like we were all in a big hot tub. Another great storyteller, more bite, snarl and sex than Aidan, whatever type of storyteller you want they’re here at the Edinburgh Fringe! I haven’t seen his other show yet but on the strength of Hot Tub God, I may well visit the Three Sisters very soon. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

This morning I finally saw a show at Paradise in the Vaults, one of my favourite Fringe venues, and happy to say, it was another belter (I’ve seen some great stuff in those Vaults over the years). It was in my to-see pile as soon as I saw it in the Fringe programme, Apocalypse Kernow; great venue, zombies, Cornish, comedy – what’s not to love? Absolutely nothing! So much funny and satirical content in one hour, the writing and performances are brilliant, turns out its father and son, both are so good in their many roles. Like all the best multi-character shows various soft toys played small parts (very well, too) and the ongoing Trago Mills worker’s updates of the situation were pitched perfectly. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Enough Fringery, though this kinda is as bands don’t start playing at two in the morning in Binkies at any other time of year. The Scat Rats had told me in advance that they’d be playing Whistlebinkies on Wednesday night (just as well, a night that late requires a little forethought and Binkies made no mention of it til last minute), they did also mention the strong possibility of some level of inebriation, okay, it’s Fringe, it’ll be very late, a few drinks in would be perfectly reasonable to expect.

Back in March I wrote It’s going to be a special night a direct quote from Mr Marah the night Logan’s Close played the Running Horse in Nottingham (click on it, it should link to my post). Wednesday night was another special night, only this time it was Scott’s turn as the soberer one! I was concerned when Carl first took to the stage and sat on his stool that he would stay on it, clearly instinct kicked in and he performed pretty well considering (oh yes, there’s a couple of clips on Instagram!) He coped pretty well with the ongoing technical problems, I felt sorry for the poor girl who was on sound that night, she was doing so her best. It was indeed another fine fun performance through to around four, hugs all round and home to bed.

In other Fringe music news, did I mention the other day that Accordion Ryan had to cancel his show because his voice was suffering? Well, anyway, he did, it was. Poor guy had to cancel another two shows, but today he’s back up and running, yay! I won’t be seeing him tonight but I’ll definitely be there for his last show on Sunday (22:15 at The Counting House on West Nicholson Street), I reckon it’ll be banging!

Must go, need to eat. Toodle pip!

Spending time in Spaces

Yesterday I hit the hut, the Half Price Hut tickets, plus others just to get a good return for the overall £5 booking fee. In doing so I finally saw shows in theSpace venues, third week and I hadn’t been to any of them yet, unusual for me. I’ve noticed theSpace host a lot of small theatre companies, many that just come up for one week; so if it’s theatre at a reasonable price that you’re after, it’s a good place to check out.

TheSpace on North Bridge is on the first floor of the big hotel there, the big posh hotel, lovely staircase up, but somehow a building devoid of any, erm, emotion is not quite right, very airport lounge-y, very impersonal, a total lack of atmosphere (just my opinion, others may say differently). This does mean that the actors really need to be able to create their own atmosphere. Once Upon A Midnight Dreary certainly pile in on, a sumptuous musical play about Edgar Allan Poe, sadly it wasn’t quite to my palate. It was the Edgar Allan Poe element that attracted me (there’s always at least one production about Poe or his works at the Fringe every year). The music was very good, very fitting and the three performers all have great singing voices but the play itself just didn’t sit right with me, but any Poe fans, fans of the macabre should consider giving it go, especially if the tickets are on HPH offer.

In the evening I had back-to-back shows in Theatre 3 at theSpace @ Surgeons Hall. Be warned, Theatre 3 is a very warm room, warm enough to have your head nodding if you’ve recently had a large meal. First off, You’re Dead, Mate a dark comedy where Death has to process his latest client and send him to the Hereafter, but his client is, understandably, rather confused and disbelieving. This is the debut play of Edmund Morris with himself as Death and Harry Duff-Walker playing the recently deceased. It’s very funny and entertaining, a few poignant moments in there amid the laughs; for a first play I reckon he done good, not brilliant but sound and some great ideas. It would be interesting if Morris re-visited this in five years time, with tweaks from all his accumulated knowledge and experience this could be really something (yes, Morris has a future in theatre of that I have no doubt). ⭐⭐⭐1/2

Another young man with a bright future is Fraser Brown. After a brief step outside to gulp down some fresh, cool air it was back into Theatre 3 for It’s Fraser Brown, I’m Afraid. He comes across as a personable young chap who’s a tad anxious, or is that part of the act? No, I think his occasional apologies to his audience weren’t without basis in his true self, they may be in there as part of his routine but it would still be telling that he put them in. Brown has some wonderfully pitch-black comedy moments where a few cracked a laugh and others gasped or laughed like they shouldn’t be finding the funny. He seemed to take a while to relax into his stride, I felt he was trying to hard to be edgy, it came across just a bit uneven, disjointed; when he got in his groove he had a lighter touch and delivered the dark punches with more effect. Definitely one I’ll be keeping my eye on ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Yesterday early evening I finally indulged myself with a HPH ticket to see Blueswater Presents: Blues! The 10th Anniversary Show in the Grand Theatre at theSpace @ Surgeons Hall. I know that I shouldn’t begrudge spending a bit more to see some top class blues but I’m a terrible moose and I do. Wow, though, this is a brilliant show, it’s the last year Blueswater will do this particular show, definitely worth seeing before it finishes on Saturday if you like the blues. Worth it just for Nicole Smit coming on and performing I’d Rather Go Blind, followed by a blindingly good rendition of The Wizard by Black Sabbath!

Yes, this show takes us for the beginnings of the blues (with just Nicole Smit and Felipe Schrieburg on stage singing John the Revelator – exquisite) right up to modern day. Members of the band came and went off stage as each number required, with Nicole adding to the mix occasionally; all the various Back Up Crew were there along with some brass on the side. Just have to mention The Wizard again, I don’t usually pay much attention to drummers but I do enjoy watching Simon Gibb and he was sooo good on this; and Jed Potts and Charlie Wild going nuts on guitar, awesome (oh, Ewan on bass and the harmonica player were great too, and Felipe on vocals). I am a bit tempted to go back for the final show.

Last but not least from yesterday, not in any Space, the Gilded Balloon Wine Bar instead, was Yippee Ki Yay and if you can’t guess what this show takes its name from it’s possibly not the show for you. If, however you are a fan of Die Hard, are not averse to some verse and like a slice of silly, this could be right up your street. Richard Marsh tells two stories side by side, one Die Hard the movie, the other of our narrator’s life having fallen in love with a fellow Die Hard fan. His Hans Gruber is priceless (with plenty of little Rickman and Potterverse quips); the proposal scene to the music from The Princess Bride, such a great little detail. So glad I decided to get around to seeing this romp ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The sun has finally decided to come out – it was very gray and wet before lunchtime. Must go out and get a few rays, maybe catch another show or two. It could be a late one tonight as I believe those Scat Rats are playing Binkies in the early hours, will I make it?

Toodle pip!

It’s started, cue the drizzle

Yes, it’s Preview Wednesday and right on cue the sky is completely grey and a gentle drizzle is alternating with a fine mizzle (the wetness just hangs in the air more with a mizzle, drizzle goes downwards). As this is a Brave New fringe my old habits are being reassessed for compatibility. For instance, I haven’t left Shakespeare For Breakfast til later, first morning in, bang! Seen. Actually it was more like Shakespeare For Brunch, this year they’re putting on a second performance each morning at 11:15 – rather good for folk who could never be up and at a venue by 10:00. Different venue again this year, an old favourite of mine, Roman Eagle Lodge or as it’s proper title C Aquila.

Ah, back queuing up those stairs to the very top room, but what’s this? The croissants weren’t just left on the seats, they were by the coffee (or tea or orange juice) at the entrance! While I applaud this change, no more wasted croissants, it does mean I don’t get to grab a few left ones as I’m leaving. How was the show? Very different to previous SfB productions, first and most obvious there’s only three players, one of whom is definitely much older than the usual demographic (not that there’s anything wrong with that, he’s probably younger than me actually); I don’t think I’ll be the only regular who’ll be like, oh, ok, not the same vibe. But it is cheesy in parts, some good groans, some not so good groans, great opening song, the usual bit of audience anticipation (just the one bit for one audience member).

This year’s breakfast dish is The Winter’s Tale, they asked the audience if anyone knew it, erm, I did it at A-level but remember only a smidgen, wasn’t about to admit to it. Oh, exit, pursued by a bear, I remember that, of course! Actually, once the story got underway a lot of it did come back to me but I couldn’t seem to recall Leontes hiring a private detective to look for his daughter, hmmm. Yes, Shakespeare with added film noir, oh and a ukulele (yay! There was a guitar played too in the play but ukuleles are way cooler). Not the best SfB production I’ve seen but it ranks pretty high, and bear in mind that was the first day. I’ll give it just a smidgen off four stars.

That wasn’t actually my first Fringe show this year, I saw that yesterday. Monkey Barrel Comedy decided to start a few previews early, it was a fairly easy choice to pop my Fringe22 cherry with John-Luke Roberts: A World Just Like Our Own, But…. He did not disappoint! On stage with just a washing machine with an old slimline corded phone in the powder tray, he told us about so many worlds like our own but for one thing, there were an awful lot of them, of course I remember it was very, very funny but few actual details. Two that really stuck with me were a world where corpses are buried feet first, so that if there’s a zombie outbreak it would like a game of Zombie Whac-A-Mole as they rose up; the other involved a cat and little red laser dots, I’ll say no more on that one.

The phone was there to enable other John-Luke Roberts from other worlds to phone him, he’d ask them about their worlds and whether they were happy. There is a reason for the washing machine but you’ll have to see the show to find that out, it is integral to the arc as JLR slowly reveals more, silliness and absurdity mix with pathos and profundity. I love this man that he can make me weep tears of laughter and recognition. A definite ☆☆☆☆☆

I’ve actually just finished this post off much later in the day as I had to shoot off to see another show. It was Fritz and Matlock in the Attic at the Pleasance Courtyard, more details next time; just mentioning it because I saw it purely by luck. Coming out of Shakespeare For Breakfast I debated whether to head home via the Royal Mile or the longer way by Teviot Square, the long way I decided. I fell into conversation with a girl with a small inflatable cow in her bag (as you would), of course it was to do with a show, would I like a free ticket? I wasn’t entirely sure it would fit into the day’s schedule but I took it, and phew it did, quite nicely in fact.

More from me about today tomorrow, I’m not too sure how or when as I have five shows lined up. I’ll probably put the odd pic up on Instagram and Facebook (Bruce T Moose). I’ll leave you with an old pic inside Roman Eagle Lodge, and yes the old stair lift is still there. Toodle pip!

Stannah Stair Lift to heaven?!

I’ve seen some things, you know!

Since I last tapped out a post to you I’ve seen six shows in six different venues. I could go through them in chronological order, nope, gonna go least favourite first; that would be Embassy Stomp at theSpace Triplex (yes, one of the tickets I was having problems booking, which irks me now that maybe I should have taken the hint!). Oh, it wasn’t all bad, it just could have been so much better. The plot was fine, pacy and silly, the car chase scene was great, but I wished two of the actors had dialled it back a bit. They were too much for me, made me think of a show I saw a few years ago same problems, shouting is not projecting and less mugging can be a lot funnier (it didn’t help that the room acoustics were not good for shouty voices and made them slightly incoherent). I do think though that there was potential, there were some good ideas; given a few years the two I had problems with may well become fine comic actors.

From a group of young enthusiastic actors to the other side of the business, two experienced older actors playing Holmes and Watson in The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Oh it was fine, maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I’d been sat further back, I felt a tad blasted by the performance of Holmes (very Jeremy Brett, I thought) but I can see that’s definitely a way to play him, just a teensy bit hammy for me. Another thing was, a whole conversation piece at the end of the play, it felt like it should have happened near the start but they’d somehow missed it out and decided to tag it on at the end to keep the time right; it just seemed odd to me. It’s on in the Dining Room at the Gilded Balloon until the 29th; Sherlock Holmes fans should go see it and most likely they will.

Next up, another theSpace venue, this time Surgeon’s Hall, I’ve seen plenty of shows here usually pretty good ones, so no pressure. I’d forgotten that Theatre 19 Presents: John was down as an absurdist comedy, now it makes more sense, or at least, what seemed absurd was meant to absurd, and some elements were delightfully so. Again, the room was not the best acoustically when volume overtook projection, but hey, another bunch of young, enthusiastic performers (with those dials up to 11 at times, again, come on directors!) Some of the characters seemed like they were borrowed from bad Radio 4 “comedies” but the plot was fine and the ending, somehow it took me by surprise, well played!

This afternoon I was in the Ballroom at The Counting House for Stand-Up Philosophy. An hour of four comedians (one host, three guests) being funny and philosophical on the topic of the day, which today was rationality. I like these types of shows as the stand-ups can’t just rely on their rehearsed material, we get to see more of their mettle, especially when our host would open the floor for questions! And if you go more than once it’ll be a different show each time. It’s on until the 29th but it was full today, so that bodes well for the run. The Counting House is part of the Laughing Horse family and so operates on Pay What You Can to guarantee entry or risk turning up and donating at the end; today looked like most had booked in advance, you have been warned.

Our genial host of Stand-Up Philosophy, Alex Farrow is next on my list with his own show Alex Farrow: Philosophy Pig. No, I didn’t go to his other show because I was impressed by his solo show, I actually bought that ticket first, but if I hadn’t, I would have bought one! Alex Farrow is an engaging chap with a quietly confident air. I bet he was a great teacher, easy-going but in control; he gave up teaching philosophy to do stand-up about it instead. Yes, an hour with Alex is informative and well as entertaining, plenty to muse on as well as chuckle over. The Pig bit? Humans are animals too and have a base piggy side. He also has a lot to say about bats and is a bat-watcher, good man! This show is next door to The Counting House at 32 Below, (also a Laughing Horse venue) best book in advance as it’s quite a small room and he’s filling it already!

Top show so far? John-Luke Roberts: It Is Better – Live! The man is a genius! Bonkers, but a genius. This show wasn’t in the Fringe programme but I heard about it from Monkey Barrel and quickly got a ticket as it was only on for a few nights, so so glad I did – for me it was the best show of his that I’ve seen. He was so charmingly engaging, (I think he may have mellowed a bit from the first time I saw him) and looked quite debonair with his long mane of hair and beard to match. It will take something very special to knock It Is Better – Live! off my top spot!

Let’s talk about Bill

Last post I mentioned Bill Bailey and the place he holds in my Happy box, which got me remembering all the other great stuff I’ve seen him do. Really, he’s popped up more times than I would have guessed off the cuff. So here’s a potted history of me and Mr Bailey……..

Apparently he first came up to the Fringe in 1994 as part of a two man show, going solo the following year, then, third time lucky he was nominated for a Perrier 1996 (not so lucky that he won but hey). This was around the time I began to really embrace the Fringe, I didn’t see him perform but I was aware of him. Oh yeah, by 1999 Bud and I were fans, we were yelping with delight when he turned up in the tv comedy sitcom Spaced as the owner of a comic book store!

2000 saw Bill on the telly again as Manny Bianco in the totally and utterly brilliant Black Books. Not for everyone, mind, but my fancy was well tickled by it. Bill, Tamsin Greig and Dylan Moran were great together, usually stuck bickering in Bernard Black’s (Moran) bookshop (in three series very little took place outside of the shop and it’s living space behind). Mind you, I don’t think Dylan Moran was stretching himself much – from what I’ve heard from friends (have I ever mentioned our Fringe game, Meringue, and its origin?).

In 2002 Bill became one of the team captains of my favourite tv panel show at the time Never Mind the Buzzcocks battling against Phil Jupitus’ team, presided over by quiz master Mark Lamarr. Oh, that was great entertainment, if at times a tad cruel to some of the guest panellists. Lamarr actually became less caustic with his humour as time went on, his teddy boy solid as a board quiff soften too. Then Lamarr left and after a series with guest presenters youngster Simon Amstell took over the chair; it was like the humour of early NMTB again but meaner, Amstell obviously wanted to make his mark but his needling and determination to get a rise out of his victims just got annoying at times. In 2008 after a second series with the new chair and with eleven series under his belt, Bill took his leave of the show; I’ve read that Bill revised his attitudes to comedy around this time, “cruel” comedy was shown the door.

Meanwhile, when not filming series of NMTB, Bill was back at the Fringe. In 2003 he brought us not only his new show Part Troll but he also acted in Guy Masterson’s all-star cast production of 12 Angry Men. Bud and I saw and thoroughly enjoyed both (mind, that “all-star” thing seemed to mean stand-up comedians). To our delight two years later he trod the boards again in The Odd Couple with Alan Davies as the other half (another Guy Masterson production). That was, of course, the first time we saw Bill’s band, not listed in the Fringe programme just on the Gilded Balloon’s own.

Those are my stand out BB moments, since then he’s acted on the big and small screen (oo yeah, the Dr Who Christmas Special in 2011); there’s the guesting on panel shows and he’s presented various programmes on topics from baboons to orchestras; tours around the world, books, radio shows, and a load other stuff!! A man of many talents, indeed. Just last month he published a new book Bill Bailey’s Remarkable Guide to Happiness, that’s so on my Christmas list! Oh, and last month he also joined this year’s Strictly Come Dancing!! Oh yay, another excuse to talk about Strictly. I suspect my UK readers knew that was coming 😊.

Toodle oo, chaps.

Some trees are remarkably talented

Top Tip for fringe shows – film one performance of the run. Best to do it, oo, a third of the way through the Fringe, that way you’re nicely settled in, having fun with it, the mid-Fringe weariness hasn’t hit yet, you’re feelin’ good! Film it, one, for prosperity, and two, so that if there should be some huge catastrophe where live entertainment is banned, you’ll have something to show the fans (to remind them of happier times!).

Those wonderful Sleeping Trees did just that, so last night I enjoyed Sleeping Trees: Sci-Fi? for a second time. Mmm, when did I first see it, me thought, oo, turns out it was four years ago today! It was in Pleasance Two, so a good view and not too hot, one of the better venues. It’s a cracking show, in my diary I gave it five stars, quite right! Thoroughly deserved. At five o’clock in the afternoon it was after sleepy hour, which is just as well as there’s a lot going on and all at break-neck speed.

And it’s all done with brilliant musical accompaniment and punctuation! Sleeping Trees: Western had been great the year before but this score was even more intrinsic to the action. The drummer and keyboard player provide the perfect soundscape for a sci-fi tale of epic proportions, and they look to be really having fun (well, the drummer didn’t seem to mind being almost mauled at one point). The sound and lighting were spot on too, I do remember being impressed the first time, but possibly being more removed from it this time I noticed the overall production more (well, I know what I mean).

It’s standard Hollywood blockbuster fare: prologue, bad guy gets locked up, a child is taken faraway for safety; twenty years later, bad guy gets out, aaand I’m not giving any more of the plot – you may get to see it sometime. I’ll just say you won’t figure out how the hero Charlie Sprogg, a pig shit farmer, is going to save the day!

Sleeping Trees bring all their many talents to bear here, the writing, their physicality and vocal delivery, the attention to every detail. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to see this again. Now, I just need to see Sleeping Trees: Mafia as I haven’t seen it yet, oh, and if there happens to be a recording of Sleeping Trees and the Chocolate Factory?!? Just sayin’.

Looking forward to what they’ll bring to town next year.

Toodle pip!

241 – Nice but no 42!

The thunder storm just couldn’t hold back any longer! The rain hammered down, the thunder and lightening went on for hours. Don’t reckon I’ve ever seen such a thunder storm over Edinburgh before. On an average 241 Tuesday night there would be plenty of folk about, plenty having to stand in queues in the torrential rain waiting for their next show! They hope it’ll be worth it, well, at least it was a cheap ticket – some shows won’t even be worth it at half price! They’ll sit listening to the rapturous applause at the end thinking, Huh? What? with soaked-through footwear, a still soggy jacket, knowing they’re about to go back out and get even soggier, all for something that barely raised a chuckle.

Okay, so I painted a pretty crappy picture there, but such can be the luck of the Fringe. Take, for example, the first two 241 shows Bud and I went to see. Two by Jim Cartwright, hmmm, remember my cautionary tale about April in Paris? Well, this was like the second time I saw that, all vitriol and plain meanness (I do intend to see One again one year, hopefully as it’s meant to be done). Later that same Sunday we went to see Rich Hall and Mike Wilmot – Pretzel Logic, hmmm, this came across as a self-indulgent wheeze, dreamt up late night in a bar and written on the back of a cigarette packet. Sorry but that’s how we both felt walking out of the Assembly Rooms at one in the morning. How could the brilliant Rich Hall do that to us? Oh yes, he was the bee’s knees to us, sure the show had it’s moments, all his, but not many. We decided it must all be Mike Wilmot’s fault for leading our hero astray!

The Monday was way better with five great shows through the day, faith restored! Since that year 241 Monday was usually a day off work to see five acts, until the year Bud was leaving Edinburgh when we made it six – well, we had to shift up Shakespeare For Breakfast from it’s usual slot. Oo, that was the day we saw Thom Tuck perform Scaramouche Jones (epic), there was an Aussie sponge called Bruce (gritty antipodean epic), yay, Sleeping Trees: Western (possibly my favourite of all their shows), Tom Neenan: Andromeda Paradox was fine (but not one of his best), ending appropriately with Max & Ivan: The End.

Some wonder how one can see and actually take in five shows in one day, well, sometimes the show after lunch may not totally recalled (Tip, don’t have a big, heavy lunch or you WILL doze in the next warm dark room you enter!). Looking back at all the 241 shows that I saw between 2002 and 2015 there are only six that I have absolutely no recall of whatsoever (I’m surprised there’s not a flicker for Opening Night of the Living Dead at C Cubed in 2009, hmmm, nope). I’m quite pleased with that, after all, it’s not necessarily all my fault I don’t recall them!

There are seven shows I would love to be able to unsee, nevermind not being worth half price! Two, I mentioned above, another two God, Inc and The Story of Funk I have spoken of before. They are my Top Four worst 241 shows, fifth place goes to Carnival of Souls a multi-media arty thing performed in the Cameo cinema 1. It was so not our thing, Bud would have happily left early but I wanted to stick it out hoping to find something to like about it, I didn’t.

See, I feel good because I could easily spot the few I have not enjoyed, the vast majority have been good to bloody excellent. There’s so much variety I would be hard pressed to shortlist my favourites. It would take a lot of thought and right now the sun is beckoning me out. Indeed, it’s a beautiful day oot there.

Where’s my sunglasses?

Toodle oo.

 

It was a very good year (part I)

2013 was the year the Free Fringe got really quite exciting, no longer was it just stand-up comedians in back rooms of pubs, there were proper shows to see! Or, at least, that was how my buddy and I perceived it. Casual Violence: Om Nom Nominous in the Voodoo Rooms was one such show, so good we went to see the company’s other non-free show the next day; the live musical accompaniment was a fine asset!

The Hawke Papers at the Blind Poet (loved that pub, alas, no longer there, that fine old boozer has been absorbed by the Pear Tree) was an interactive murder mystery using the full space of the pub for us to move around, look for clues and talk to the various characters. It was popular for a morning show, we missed out one day but were given a signed flyer and told to be there twenty minutes early the next day to be sure of getting in!

We heard that Death Ship 666 at the Three Sisters was very good and very popular and at 10:45 in the morning! After one miss we made it in plenty of time on the second attempt, great show, dubious venue. It may be fine now (I haven’t seen any shows there for a few years) but the back of the Three Sisters used to have a whiff of stale urinals, watching a show distracted from it, but hanging around waiting for a show to start was not pleasant!

The Free Fringe show that sounded right up our street was Captain Morgan and the Sands of Time at what was the Fiddlers Elbow at Picardy Place – ours and every other bugger’s street. We’d heard it was popular so headed down a good twenty minutes early, apparently not a hope in hell said the guy who came out to count the queue.  The next time we were just over half hour early, so did we get in? Argh, by a gnat’s crochet, no!!! We were right at the door, next in, sorry, jam-packed full!! Now fainter hearts may have given up at this point, not us, another evening another even longer wait (forty five minutes) but, yes, we made it in! Was it worth it? Absolutely! Two actors, one musician (yes, more live accompaniment), lots of characters including Poseidon, a Lovecraftian creation played by the actors together.

2013 was the year we saw the wonderful Aidan Goatley for the first time, another visit to the Voodoo Rooms to see Ten Films With My Dad, a Free Fringe show. It was also the Fringe we finally scaled the mighty Arthur’s Seat, not once but twice, to see This Arthur’s Seat Belongs to Lionel Ritchie, a gala spectacular of Barry Ferns and friends (not quite at the top as it was a very windy squally day) and then Barry on Arthur’s Seat, which poignantly turned out to be the last time he’d do his solo show up there – his knees had decided enough was enough.

Here’s a little collage of pics from the Arthur’s Seat shows. See, you can tell it was a proper Free Fringe show – there was a doorway to go in through and it’s where he stood with the bucket at the end 😆

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