Caterpillars, hedgehogs and sperm – all in one day!

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.

Toodle pip!

 

 

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!

 

Well, that’s the previews sorted!

If you read my last post (and why not?!) you’ll be dying to know what happened, will I have to miss my films? Well, good news, I will be heading back to the mother ship this weekend so won’t miss any of EIFF 2018, yay! Bad news, the whole piss-up/brewery thing has been totally cancelled this year (bloody numpty!) I am so not impressed.

Since then I’ve completed my first scour of the full printed Fringe Programme and bought my first batch of tickets, mainly previews with a few others. As there is now a booking fee of 80p a ticket that stops at £4.80 it makes sense to buy enough tickets to reduce the effect of it – £4.80 booking fee for fifteen shows is quite reasonable, I’d say!

I’m going to kick off this year with Russell Howard, good to see him back and for only a fiver! Mind it is called Russell Howard – Work in Progress, hmmm, first night could be interesting (interesting=shambolic). The ever delightful Felicity Ward (pic below is me swooning over her poster) is back and hopefully on time. I have 30 minutes to get from Pleasance Above to George Square Theatre for Thrones! The Musical! this is perfectly doable, just as long as the Pleasance aren’t running too late. Considering how long they’ve had to get it right you would think it should run like a well-oiled machine but, well, it doesn’t always.

After a break last year everyone’s favourite sock puppets are back  with a new show Superheroes, check out the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre on Facebook or YouTube for skits and songs on the subject (love the Deadpool and Black Lightning videos). As ever they’re in the exceedingly warm Sportsman room at the Gilded Balloon, grab a flyer on your way in to use as a fan!

At the witching hour the wonderful Will Seaward is back with Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories V, but what’s this? He’s no longer in the Wee Room, he’s been upgraded to the Dining Room! Yay!!

Oo, and I got me a ticket to see the Ukulele Death Squad as they’re bound to sell out. They’re back at the Leith Depot near the bottom of Leith Walk, an exceedingly hot room above the pub but it does have its own bar. Well I actually bought two tickets as it’s on the Friends of the Fringe list of 2for1’s, so if you’re reading this and will be in town Sunday 5th, I have a spare half price ticket for one very lucky individual! Bang Bang!

Toodle pips!

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It’s only rock’n’roll but I like it!

So last night was a bit of alright! I was in the Voodoo Rooms (Venue 68 come August, very nice but rather warm, real ale in the bar) for the launch of Logan’s Close new EP “Fried Bangers.” Sold out so it was very packed and very warm. I got there shortly after the second band came on (sorry to Shredd, I’m sure you were awesome too), Ayakara who were pretty fine. There was a good contingent of their fans in the crowd (they knew the words!)  After procuring myself a pint of Joker IPA I found a good spot to see the band and be faintly wafted by what air-con there was from time to time, unfortunately as usual some beanpoles took up their strategic positions to block at least half the band from sight at any given moment.

Pardon me a little rant here. So okay, I am quite a shortarse but even average-sized humans can’t compete with those guys and they do like to go centre towards the front. Beanpole may not have been the correct word, that suggests tall and thin, these guys are pretty often quite broad, not easy to see around! There should be a line three-quarters of the way back that anyone over six foot has to stand behind – it’s not like they wouldn’t be able to see over our heads!!    And breathe.

Where was I? Being gently wafted before getting another pint of Jokers and wading back in to find a spot to watch the Close. This time I was at the side, a better view than I would have had in the now packed out centre, but no wafts to cool me down. Oh, the lads were on top form! Just, just, bloody marvellous, shit hot, astoundingly awesome! These are the guys I’ve been waiting for, finally a band worthy of the rock’n’roll crown hung up since the demise of Nick Johnson and Bluefinger!

I first saw Bluefinger in 1988 in the then Preservation Hall and followed all incarnations of the band until Nick left Edinburgh for Spain permanently  (he had been semi-regularly coming back over to play but had decided it was time to stop) and was sadly killed in an motorcycling accident about a year or so later in 2010. Bluefinger were a force of nature, even when it was only Nick on guitar and Ed on flamenco box drum, they rocked up a storm in Whiski on the Royal Mile during the Fringe in 2007. Bud and I would wander in late after a show, sit at the bar and soak up the vibes, and when Ed would do his box solo in Not Fade Away, wow, people would get up from their seats, crane their necks, a mass movement towards the band to see how one guy’s hands could create such a sound. Ed was always good but some nights he was totally “in the zone”, man, I will never forget how great those nights were.

Aaand, back to Logan’s Close again. Indeed, I get the same feeling of blissed-out happy watching them; Big Nick would approve of them inheriting his crown. But will they be playing Edinburgh during the Fringe – you may wonder, oh yes!! If you’ve read my early posts you may have spotted that I must have broken my self-imposed Fringe Code if I am aware of this fact. Okay, so I get emails from the Fringe whenever a new batch of shows are up online; I just had to check if the Ukulele Death Squad were coming back (yippee, they are), at the same time I noticed the Close were playing, and at a venue I’ve never been to before, ooo.

I also spotted Bon the Musical, yes, a musical about Bon Scott!! I’m not sure how I feel about it, if they don’t get it right it could be terribly wrong! Maybe I’ll check reviews before I commit to it, at £12 a ticket that could be a big mistake. Mind there’s always the chance they may put some tickets for sale at the Half Price Hut. There’s also the fact I am still a Friend of the Fringe which brings the benefit of 2for1 tickets for a long list of shows which this year includes all three shows mentioned above 😊. I could purchase pairs of tickets, then offer the pleasure of my company and a half price ticket on Facebook, I could, it might be quite fun.

Toodle pip!