And so ends another Fringe

I’m happy to report that my Fringe did end well, though it did look doubtful for a while that I’d get to see one final show. I went up the Three (Free) Sisters a good twenty minutes early, a few folk were scattered around outside the gate, just a few seemed to be In a definite little queue, ah yes, they wanted to see Darius Davies: Don’t Be Shit but hadn’t got tickets either; I tagged on to them. The guardian at the gate, a woman not to be trifled with, yelled “Anyone with tickets for the next show? Anyone?” about half a dozen stepped forward, damn. Every three of four minutes she’d yell out again and more would realise she was meaning them and so got to enter, mind the queue was still growing all the time.

Ten past nine came and went but we all assumed it must be running late as there was no shout that no-one without a ticket was getting in, and none of us were walking away at this point, just on principle! Yes, just after quarter past nine we started to trickle in, the others in front were all heading to the the bar first but I made straight for the door at the back on the right as instructed. Yikes, there weren’t many seats left but I managed to nab one, which luckily had a shortarse in the seat in front, yay!

The lights dimmed and the star of the show announced himself before running on to the stage to great applause. Five minutes in, as he was telling us how bad Croydon is, I realised I had heard this spiel about Croydon before. Where? Ahha, Joke Thieves at the Counting House. Tonight’s show was apparently a Best Bits of what he’s done so far – apparently so far is over ten years!

It was a great show, very funny though at times not really my cup of tea; nothing bad, just maybe a bit antagonistic for me, hey ho. He is a good storyteller, the suited guy on the bus tale and later recall to it were well executed for maximum effect. A word of warning, trying to leave a Darius Davies show early unseen is impossible, no matter how sneaky you try to be, those piercing eyes will target you and his disapproval will be fierce! Oh, and his final punchline had me laughing most of my way home, nice one.

Good night, sweet dreams!

Please, it’s the last night, don’t be s**t

Like watching a fish flopping around, slowly dying out of the water on a boat’s deck, the last vestiges of the Edinburgh Fringe are a sad, pathetic sight; especially this year, what little there’s been is being dismantled and packed up in double quick time! It’s not even officially over yet! The Scottish Comedy Festival @ The Beehive Inn and Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters seem to be almost the last ones going. I’m going to wander along for Darius Davies:Don’t Be Shit at nine o’clock, if it’s already full, well, so be it. I haven’t been to any shows at the Free (three) Sisters, its not a place I’m keen on to be honest.

After the double delight of shows by Tim Fitzhigham and Rob Kemp yesterday, it may be wise to end my Fringe on those peaks, but I’m going to take a gamble on one more show. An unknown to me, so I checked out a couple of reviews and they seemed sound. Why do I need to Fringe to the bitter end? Why? I think the Fringe committee or whoever’s in charge should look at making the Sunday the final day so that more shows will be ending on it, and maybe some of the early Friday closures would then add on a day or two.

Last night’s show Rob Kemp: The Elvis Dead was a brilliant show to end a Fringe on, and actually, thinking about it, it did go on past midnight so technically I have seen a show on the last day of the Fringe. Oh, he’s good, the show is wickedly funny and creative; basically it’s Evil Dead 2 with the story told through the medium of rewritten Elvis songs, sung as Bruce Campbell doing Elvis; yes, Rob Kemp does look quite like Bruce Campbell (I reckon there’s a likeness to Cillian Murphy too) and has a great voice. A screen at the side of the stage shows parts of the film, a great idea that works in well, especially while Rob turns away to spray more blood on himself!

There’s so many Elvis tunes used that it’s hard to remember them all but probably my favourites are Are You Lonesome Tonight and Suspicious Minds; all the songs are very clever and funny and delivered perfectly. I especially remembered Are you Lonesome Tonight from the first time I saw The Elvis Dead, it’s at the point of the film after the mirror bit when Ash is freaking out and everything in the cabin is laughing, the song becomes Are You Losing Your Mind, pure genius.

So when did I see it previously? Ah, the first preview night of 2018 in the Pleasance Above. He’d won a number of awards for it the previous year, no doubt why the Pleasance snatched him away from the Monkey Barrel. Looking back at my blog post about it, oo, spooky, it’s called A Work In Progress (see the title and topic of my last blog post). I barely mentioned anything other than I’d seen the show and it came second place that evening to Russell Howard; I had intended to say more when I had time, I put “more on this show later”. Okay, so it’s three years and twenty seven days later but hey, better late than never!

Toodle pip!

As nightmares go, it was rather a fine one!

Yay! I finally made it in to see David Alnwick’s Nightmare Magic, it’s rather good. This show is as much about the storyline as the magic tricks, they’re all a part of the story as it unfolds. Towards the end I did lose the thread a bit, but there’s a good chance that was part of his plan to bamboozle us and wrest rational thoughts from our minds; it worked if it was! David Alnwick is a good storyteller with a quiet confidence in his tone, can I coin his talent as “sleight of voice”? He would ratchet up the tension and diffuse It effortlessly. And the ending was delivered as a throwaway, just brilliant!

I’ve noticed there’s a fair number of magic acts this year, maybe there’s always be this many but they’re more noticeable as there’s so much less of everything else. There’s certainly a demand, David is now doing Nightmare Magic twice a night now until the 29th.I have seen another production involving young actors at a theSpace venue, but as it suffers like other younger shows I’m not going to bother naming and shaming it.

Is it the effects of the last eighteen months that the younger contingent of the Fringe haven’t impressed me; or, in a normal Fringe year with much more choice would my fringedar have automatically picked better shows? Who can say? But bravo to all those who have come and given it a shot this year. I hope they get a chance to come back another year. Mind, I would be happy if the Fringe didn’t go back to how it was in 2019, way too big. There’s big and then there’s just too much! From selling out almost every show this year, the newbies could be sadly disillusioned by numbers from a return to 2019 levels in a second year here.

This is an odd year – as I keep mentioning! I went out late last night because The Kennedy’s Project were playing at Stramash again, this time after midnight. I went for a stroll about to revive myself (I could have easily just gone to bed), it looked like the Pleasance Courtyard were closing up, no throngs of people around the Teviot area, of course no Potterrow this year, just a few still sitting out in the Underbelly garden in Bristo Square. The Cowgate is sooo quiet compared previous Augusts. Stramash was fairly quiet too but it sure picked up when the band came on. Different lead guitarist this time, he didn’t do any singing so it all fell on the other guy. Another great night, the crowd loved them, I suspect they’ll now be regulars there. My, it’s been a while since I last got in at almost three in the morning!

I shall leave you with an Eggs Benedict update. I was going to go to Em’s Kitchen but there was a queue waiting to go in! Er, no, so I went up on the Royal Mile, left or right? I knew everything on offer left so I turned right and headed down the hill. Not far down on the left-hand side there’s a cafe called Luscious, some how it’s never caught my attention before, I crossed over to check out the menu, oh yay! Went in, no menu perusing necessary, thanks, Eggs Benedict and a latte, please. And here it is, pure and simple, just an slice of tomato with it. Perfection on a plate and in my tummy 💛

A win by a gnat’s crotchet

Remember how I thought Luke Rollason was my top show of this this year’s Fringe? Well, he’s not, only by the smidgiest of smidgens, mind, but Christian Brighty’s Playboy stole my heart. I reckoned it would be close, but that Luke’s show would tickle my funny bone more, it turns out Christian’s joie de vivre won through (call me odd, but I find Luke has a Moomin-like quality, there’s a strange underlying little sadness there). Seeing the three separately (Tom Curzon was in Extreme Nonsense) really did show their own directions and styles and how much they compliment each other.

Christian Brighty:Playboy was obviously going to be fun from the toy bows and arrows on many audience seats and softplay balls under others. Luke was there to lend a hand enticing folk to sit in the front rows and be an angry father just offstage. Our Playboy was a dandy and charming cad about town, even when calling us all munters. Enter Cupid with an arsenal of arrows, cue audience participation, half the front row were being offered undying love!

The show was a great romp! Good plot, clever and witty lines, a very fine performance by Christian and some brilliantly inventive ideas (scenes with the Duchess and Susan were so so funny) helped things along. This is an achingly funny show and while it’s very saucy, it has a sense of innocent, mischievous fun, all in the best possible taste! The particular performance that I saw did have the added pleasure of the front row audience members who really embraced on their guardians of the key roles. Hopefully this isn’t the last of this show, many more people need to see this!

In other news, there was a fire this morning at George IV Bridge, according to the BBC News website it is believed to have started in the Patisserie Valerie cafe. The Bridge, Candlemaker Row and part of Chambers Street were closed off and could remain so for quite a while. It had looked from a distance that it was Frankenstein’s as that’s next door, the other side has the now world-famous Elephant House cafe. Flats above the cafe were evacuated, apparently one person was taken to hospital, let’s hope they’re okay.

I’m off to Porty now, it’s a gloriously hot day out there, definitely time to just snooze on the beach awhile!

(BTW, I’ve put pictures of George IV Bridge on Facebook, check them out, Bruce T Moose)

A Fringe beyond zero

Alas, I didn’t get to see The Flop: A Band of Idiots last night and it was their last night, unless, like many things in this fluctuating Fringe, they decide to do more shows (pretty please?!) Nah, it’s unlikely, at least I have the third Private to see today, Christian Brighty: Playboy. Its like a minibusload of absurdists came up for a week and now they’re all packed ready to head back south just as soon as Christian has taken his bow and said his thank yous. Him and his stuff will be bundled into the bus and with ringmaster, Dan Lees at the wheel, they’ll be gone. Imagine if the outside of the minibus reflected the minds of those inside?!

I had been intending to head to Stramash after the show, wow, drinking and dancing in a no doubt busy room, a blast from the past. How would Stramash be now? Well, it was weird going to the bar, rather than six deep around it, there were two queues stretching across the room. To folk entering it wasn’t immediately obvious so they’d head straight to the open space at the bar, then they’d kinda look round at us, it would click that we were stood in a line, “Er, is this a queue for the bar?”,”Yup!” and they’d head the other way to find the back of it. God, it was interminably slow. Now Stramash has an upstairs balcony area that I’ve rarely been in, I was pretty certain there was a bar up there but not 100% certain, striking up a conversation with a chap alongside me in the other queue I ascertained yes, there was a bar upstairs but the queue was even worse up there, that’s why he was queuing where he was. Considering how quickly my drink (a pint of Holyrood Pale Ale, very nice) was bought and paid for, I don’t understand why it took around twenty minutes to get it! It looks like Stramash has gone cashless, everyone was paying by contactless or their phones, so no fumbling around for cash and change.

It was busy but the doormen were making sure everyone was using the CheckIn Scotland app on entry. I guess its become another habit for some, click in and mask up. I did notice a few folk keeping their masks on awhile once inside, like they couldn’t really believe it was okay to remove them. It is a bit confusing, different places have different rules, many folk I think keep masks on until they’re pretty its ok to remove them. Some Fringe venues are fine with unmasking during performances, well, if there’s a bar many will have brought a drink in. Some venues do make an announcement asking that folk stay masked (half then have to put their masks back on), yes, it’s confusing.

Assembly Roxy has attendants at the door to enquire the size of your bubble and then lead people to appropriate seating. Similar was done at Monkey Barrel Comedy Club; they also have a temperature scanner there (only one I’ve seen so far) and they administer a squish of hand sanitiser to everyone who enters. Many venues certainly started the Fringe with seating spread out in groups of twos and fours, I wonder if some have made the spaces between smaller now to accommodate more seats; certainly some venues now have the usual rows of seats. Some folk do look uncomfortable when strangers sit right next to them, but as the In Person shows are selling out a fair bit, it happens, are they thinking “would it look insulting if I put my mask back on?”?

So, back at Stramash, pint in hand I found a good spot to watch the band come on for the second spot, a band called The Kennedy’s Project. I almost spilled my drink – it was the band from Waverley Bridge! It was great to see them indoors in a proper venue and, my, they were good, really good. As usual both the rhythm and lead guitarists shared out the vocal duties, as their voices suit very different songs it works well across the songs they cover. The crowd (and me too) loved them, plenty were on their feet dancing. Highlights for me were Hound Dog, Bring it on Home To Me and, as awesome as the last time, Minnie the Moocher. My, that guitarist was hot, growling out the words, hotter than Idris Elba even!

💛

If you just stumbled accidently upon this blog post and have enjoyed it, I always post a link on Facebook, I’m Bruce T Moose. New friends and followers always welcome (and no, the T isn’t for The).

Some bad news, sad news, good news and reviews

Godammit! I was too late to get a ticket to see The Flop: A Band of Idiots tonight! There’s now a highlighted note on my Fringe calendar to be outside the Banshee Labyrinth ten minutes before the hour before tomorrow evening. The sad news is Barry Ferns has cancelled his Arthur’s Seat shows, I was perusing what was on today as I breakfasted and spotted it; good to know, but as it was already it in my head that I’d be ascending the Seat I decided to head up anyway. It was a good day for it – warm but overcast with a pleasant breeze.

Good news, the lovely Tim Fitzhigham is doing a show (a as in just one) at the Pleasance Courtyard Cabaret Bar and I have a ticket for it, huzzah! It’s not listed in the Fringe programme (well, not as yet), I happened to be looking at something else on the Pleasance website, then of course, I fell down the rabbit hole, at least it wasn’t another waste of time!

This year’s Fringe has been odd for trying to keep up with all the updates, no doubt at some point I’ll find out that I missed something I would have dearly loved to have seen. The Free Festival announced today that they have added a significant number of extra shows, extended the run a day to end on the 30th and earlier this week added a new venue at Bar 50. Things are obviously going very well for them, yay! And speaking of updates, there’s four shows I’ve seen but not mentioned yet, so, in chronological order this time (it would be hard to call between three of them).

I saw A Highly Suspect Murder Mystery in theSpace @ Symposium Hall. Umm, it was fun but the interactive part of it worked better for some than others. They had printed sheets for audience members who couldn’t access the clues and stuff that were online (new phone, me, I joined up with two ladies next to me). There were a few questions to ponder and solve, and plenty of interacting with the characters between their set pieces. Interestingly, the set-up had Dr Watson, a few years after the death of his wife and Holmes (almost deja vu!), he’s moved back into Baker Street; Mrs Hudson, Inspector Lestrade and Mycroft Holmes are with him trying to solve the mystery – but could one of them be a killer?!

We had to figure out the how & why for not one but two murders! I was very impressed when one of the ladies next to me seemed to quite easily spot one of the how’s, it really was not obvious at all. I did enjoy the show, the actors stayed in character well. They could have had something telling us where to go online before the show began to save some time (many folk had turned their phones off what with being in a theatre!)

Next up, Joke Thieves at the Counting House, so a PWYC show, I’d already done that online to get a ticket. This year a lot of folk are booking and paying in advance for PWYC shows (Pay What You Can), there haven’t been many seats left for walk-in’s at the shows I’ve been to, so booking is a good idea (there are usually a few different prices you can choose from, just like you would choose what to give at the end of a free show).

Joke Thieves is an interesting concept hosted by Will Mars, four comedians perform their own jokes, then each others’. Will asked a member of the audience to pair up the comedians to show that nothing could have been rehearsed for the second part. Obviously every show will be completely different; some comedians may be meaner than others with the material they set their pairing up with; the second two of the second of the pairs (are you still with me here?) may want to retaliate somewhat for how the first two pairings of the second half have retold their jokes. I hadn’t really thought about it much before I went in, other than thinking it could be fun. It was! As I said every night will be different but its worth a punt.

Last night I saw Nathan Cassidy: Bumblebee in Bar 50. He’s been around the Fringe a number of years but I’ve never seen him before. Okay, so with the shortage of In Person shows, I decided to give him a shot and am pleased I did, he was really rather good; I would go and see him again next year. The pacing of the narrative was good, I enjoyed his delivery, and I would agree, Idris Elba is way hotter than Bradley Cooper.

So I didn’t see Barry Ferns today, but I did see Adele Cliff at 32 Below. She seems to be doing very well, extra shows added on for her. She’s rather sweet and so young! I did worry a bit if I’d just not be on the same level as her, like, what common areas could we possibly share? Well, there’s mothers who want to know everything, I feel her pain there. It was a light, entertaining hour in which she managed to confound many of my expectations. Nice one!

That’s it for another evening, I must away to my bed. If you’ve enjoyed reading this and would like to catch more reviews and other tales, I always post a link on Facebook, look up Bruce T Moose.

Toodle pip!

On top of the world! Well, Edinburgh.

A barrelful of funny

Today I saw my top show of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, oh yeah! I really doubt I’ll enjoy any show more, mind there is still time for some late arrival to come and sweep me off my feet. Luke Rollason: Bowerbird (WIP) in Monkey Barrel 1 on Blair Street, so so brilliant!! Okay, the guy has an immediate headstart on being surreal just from how he looks (that may sound bad but I bet he’d agree) and the bright orange attire seems to me a choice to keep jarring on our senses.

I only rolled up five minutes before the show show due to start, well, I had a ticket, but the room was nearly full and Luke was on stage with a large lampshade covering his head, like a standard lamp from the early 70’s (when I was young most homes had a standard lamp in the front room, usually with a tassled shade, I was so jealous when a sibling inherited our grandfather’s standard lamp – it had a little book case at the bottom), I wondered how long he’d been up there. He spent the first while of the show with it still on his head too. Then he took it off and we could see his eyes.

Luke Rollason’s eyes, well; I think he was a dog in a few former lives, his eyes are so expressive, from pure unadulterated glee to proper puppy sorrowfulness. The mind behind those eyes is inventive and sharp; the humour is absurd, surreal, just plain silly but never mean or cruel, there’s a joyous innocence to it. The show was maybe a reflection of how he spent his time in lockdown and I don’t mean writing the show, I mean having long conversations with kitchen utensils and dreaming up other uses for household items – didn’t we all? Most of us don’t have the ability or temerity to follow our amusements further.

There wasn’t a wasted moment in the show while it quietly built up to such an end that my chuckles were like waves on a beach, never actually stopping, with louder guffaws bursting out suddenly. I came out of the show feeling so chilled but warm with happy and giddy with joy.

Outside the venue was the third Private, Christian Brighty, handing out flyers for his show Playboy which will be on in Monkey Barrel 4 from 20th to 22nd (I have my ticket!). I’m looking forward to his solo offering; this is like the year Bud and I saw all three of the Penny Dreadfuls do solo shows, it really showed what each of them brought to the mix. No pressure, Christian, but Luke has set the bar very high!

A duo of monologues

I’m counting this morning’s show as my Shakespeare foray for this Fringe! It wasn’t one of his plays but there were plenty of his lines quoted and it was called Shakespeare’s Fool, so yes, it counts. I was back for a second time in the Main Theatre at theSpace @ Symposium Hall, the bar was set pretty low after the last production I saw here. No worries, it was a superb performance! The audience were hung on to his every word (which we could hear clearly whether he spoke loudly or softly).

This was Will Kempe recounting his life story to a mouse called Maurice (who performed his part admirable) in one final performance before passing away with the name of his first love on his lips. Who he? William Kempe was one of the most famous clown actors towards the end of the sixteenth century, a contemporary of William Shakespeare, his buddy, he brought to life Shakespeare’s characters, some they say written just for him; then they fell out. This one man play tells a tale of what might have happened with plenty of the historical facts around it. Fascinating stuff! Robin Leetham plays the part so well; it always astounds me how actors can stuff so many lines in their heads and bring them all back out in the right order, especially monologues (and this one was seventy five minutes long!). He also looked rather splendid in his fool’s garb, top marks for wardrobe.

One thought did pop into my head from time to time – much as I was enjoying Robin Leetham’s performance, I would love to see Thom Tuck have a shot at it. I think he’d make a fine Will Kempe, well, he’s not dissimilar in character! Perhaps it was also that Shakespeare’s Fool reminded me of Scaramouche Jones that Thom played so well (four years til the next time if he keeps to his plan).

Can I rewind a bit to yesterday now, please? That show I was heading to, another brilliant example of how to deliver a monologue and keep your audience mesmerised, was Watson: The Final Problem playing in Assembly Roxy (I do like the Roxy, it’s a fine old building, originally a church). The setting is three years after Holmes’ death at Reichenbach Falls, Dr Watson recounts his life (yes, another life story!) right from being a young soldier wounded in Afghanistan. It’s a cracking tale, of action, intrigue and poignancy, but ultimately at the end, after a full account of the past Watson looks forward to the future (unlike Will Kempe dying broken on a street corner).

Tim Marriott is excellent as Dr Watson, fans of Sherlock Holmes will not be disappointed at this story angle; Watson deserves more limelight! The show is only on until Sunday 22nd at 12:45 in the afternoon. Shakespeare’s Fool is on at 11:20am right up to Saturday 28th. Definitely my top two theatre shows this Fringe (sorry, Guy!)

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!

They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse

The rain gods realised it was 241 Monday at the Edinburgh Fringe, oh yes! It may not be much of a 241 Monday but the rain gods were gonna christen it, a full-on dunking. Finally around mid evening they got bored and allowed the skies to finally clear – just as well as I had to queue outside for a show, that started 30 minutes late (technical lighting problems). Yes, I went to my first show today! Well, the lovely people at Assembly were doing a Locals offer – half price tickets for a select few shows for the next few days. Naturally, I had to check the list, nothing that really tickled my fancy, but Guy Masterton, Fringe institution, was doing a one man show, definitely worth a shot!

So there I was at the back of nine o’clock sitting in the magnificent Palais Du Variété spiegeltent in the Assembly George Square Gardens. I took a moment to have a good long look around and savour everything. Really, you couldn’t have a fringier start to a Fringe – a wet, wet day, an atmospheric spiegeltent, and Guy Masterton performing Under Milk Wood (abbreviated, or he called it, Semi-skimmed). I’ve never seen it or read it before, the little I knew about Under Milk Wood never appealed to me, but this, it seemed was finally the time to try it, taste it and see!

How was it? Very theatrical, darling. But it worked – thinking back on it now, I could almost believe I saw it with a full cast of actors, the stories in black and white vignettes on film. Guy Masterton is a masterful storyteller, riveting to watch, yes, a bit theatrical for me, does that say more about me or him? I am very glad I went, I experienced something a little out of my range (hey, these days I eat salad mixes with tomatoes, cucumber and celery in them, would never have done that twenty years ago!). I really appreciated some of the lighting effects, white spotlights from below sending dark silhouettes on to the red background (very Lynchian) and when they flicked from side to side to have the effect of two people arguing, I loved it. I found myself thinking that the shadow might actually start acting apart from him, move independently, even attack him! Yes, the shadow play really did a number on me – was that Masterton’s intention with the effects?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen him perform before. I’ve seen plenty of his Fringe work as producer and director, best known are, 12 Angry Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Odd Couple and more recently The Shark Is Broken; all rather excellent. Oh yeah, on my wander home after the show tonight I passed Pip Utton, another Fringe institution who’s had a number of his shows directed by Masterton.

Must go lie down and sleep now. Ah, it feels my Fringe has begun now! A few photos from this evening for your delight and delectation.