Who needs a good bear, when you have Camels?

Ok, so I mentioned in So long, farewell, ta-ra, toodle pip! three shows I’ve seen but hadn’t mentioned before, well, they’ve gone now anyway! Bloody good shows they were too!

What of all the other shows you’ve seen, Brucie, I hear you ask (mooses have very good hearing), and you said you’d tell us more about the early shows?! Yes, I know, but it’s hard in the madness that is Fringe to keep all one’s plates spinning. So I’ll press on and rundown my shows til I had to depart Edinburgh on my mission of mercy.

Preview Friday I managed six shows, yup, six, but that was from ten in the morning ’til one the following morning! The Shakespeare For Breakfast crew were on top form again!! I was surprised how many seats were left, hopefully they’re now selling out with their excellent modern twist on The Taming of The Shrew. A great start to my day!

Next up, new to me Camels, which excitingly was in part of the all-new singing, dancing underneath of McEwan Hall; very modern and entered via the blob thing in Teviot Square. Oo these chaps are good, recalling my Seeing double post from last year, this comedy duo make up for a lack of Goodbear this year! Tom Neenan’s: It’s Always Infinity was another corker from him (maybe not quite to the heights of last year’s Attenborough) it took a wee while to pull me in, but by the end, with the by-then obvious punchline in sight, the audience were all sitting cosily in the palm of Tom’s hand. What a piece of genius writing, long may he grace the Fringe with his wit and style! I did spot, though it took me a while, that the chap in the video clips was non other that David Reed from the Penny Dreadfuls (as is Thom Tuck).

Next up was a show in a big blue box, from Switzerland, umm, the humour just didn’t translate for me, and I’m going to leave that one at that. I recovered myself with a curry at the Mosque Kitchen for tea, first visit this Fringe and it won’t be the last; good, quick, tasty grub. I finished my day at the Gilded Balloon with first the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre: Superheroes, finishing with the wonderful Will Seaward now telling his ghostly tales in the Dining Room. The SFSPT:S was good but having seen plenty of trial bits previously on their Facebook page, I think some of the dumped bits were better. If you hadn’t seen them, then the show is perfectly fine with plenty of laughs and groans, and some rather obscurer fanboy jokes. Then the clock struck twelve and it was Will Time!! Nuff said really, another late hour of terrifying tales and howling horrors but in a bigger room this year!

And then it was home to bed! Well, it’s time for me to maybe venture oot into the rain. It’s been chucking down all day, hence my catching up here. Time to book a few more shows, methinks.

Toodle pip!

Oh, those Russians!

If you’ve recently checked oot my Facebook doings (I’m Bruce T Moose, being proper, like) you’ll know the world just shrank a teensy bit more, when I was accosted by a gent flyering his show which also stars our mutual friend Will Seaward! Only very a unusual, warped intellect could have devised this show, I suspect over a jar or two in some drinking establishment! Why do a straightforward play? Why not bring in the contrariness of chance to keep the actors on their toes? Improv with a difference – a roulette wheel!

Russian Roulette is just that, a Russian play of chance; the first choice is between writers Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Chekhov, twas Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina the evening I went. Some victim from the audience becomes the croupier and whenever the bell sounds (apparently set up earlier using randomly picked times) he/she spins the wheel and calls out the number. We, the audience, had numbered lists to check and yell out (well those with the eyesight to read small print in semi-darkness,  I’d forgotten my reading glasses), cryptic instructions like “Borscht Surprise”, “Russian Dolls” or “I’m Stuffed”. Will and his co-host would explain what each meant and the actors had to incorporate it into the play. Hence, poor Princess Kitty spent a long while unable to move as she became stuffed! “Beard Ban” was tricky for two of the cast, did I mention there were penalties for failure!? This was obviously set up by some devious, dastardly mind who wouldn’t be actually caught up in this play of chance themselves! Will?!

Whilst thoroughly enjoying the fun I noticed some of the cast looked somehow familiar, I also noticed that every seat had a flyer for A Midsummer Night’s Droll, yeah, I completely failed to spot the connection – I’d seen their show Droll last year! (another smidgeon off the earth’s girth) At the end of a very entertaining hour, everyone did the usual plugging of their other shows, only then did I twig! And, being a moose of limited means, I went off to purchase a ticket for their last £10 show, at 10.05 in the morning!

If you like some fun with your Shakespeare and some top-notch comic acting to go with it, then I can’t recommend these guys highly enough. Yes, I know it breaks one of my rules, never recommend just say you liked it, but I fail to see how anyone who matches the aforementioned criteria could not love this show!!! Oh, and I noticed Princess Kitty in the audience looking charmingly unstuffed!

So that’s Russian Roulette at Just the Tonic: La Belle Angele and A Midsummer Night’s Droll at theSpace on the Mile. If you want to see a little culture this Fringe !  😊 🎭

Croissant for brekky, soup for dinner.

So I went to Shakespeare for Breakfast and was so impressed that on my way out I bought a ticket for Dickens for Dinner! Just to clarify, it was the meal some call lunch, but that really wouldn’t have the same ring, would it? Oh, it was chicken soup with a bread roll.

Yes, S4B was excellent, worth getting up for (and I made it in time to grab a coffee at Cafe Nero). The writing was really sharp with great gags and some really good soliloquies, all performed brilliantly with great comic timing. I really liked the touch of transposing MacBeth, or MacGarry, to an allotment society takeover, double entendres almost wrote themselves. Even the song at the end was really good (it has been a weak spot sometimes). Special mentions go to Duncan King, MacGarry and Lady MacGarry (and all their other roles) for their most excellent performances.

I did have a quick scrambled eggs on toast for first dinner before I headed back out, well half past one is rather late for me. The soup wasn’t too bad, wonder what they could put on for tea?

Okay, so D4D wasn’t as good as S4B, but it was still a very jolly romp, setting A Christmas Carol in the 80s with Scrooge in the music industry, cue a game of Spot the Song Lyrics throughout the show, reckon I got most of them. Again, very funny and sharp writing.

And if you like your classics straight, the same company are performing The Tempest up at C South, that’s St Peter’s at Lutton Place, in the gardens, which I can vouch are very lovely. Now if these bloody showers would just clear up!

 

Shakespeare for Breakfast?

Oo yes, please! Complete with coffee and croissant! As the show starts at 10 o’clock (well, possibly by 5 past 10 by the time everyone’s squeezed in), first breakfast may have been rushed or missed altogether, so a second breakfast is quite welcome. Mind, if I have a few minutes spare I prefer to grab myself a coffee from Caffè Nero at Blackwells. The croissants are on serviettes on the seats, the folk who don’t want one generally place them on the next seat along until if you’re one of the later arrivals you’ll have to unearth the last seat on the row from the mound of croissants. TOP TIP if you’re doing the Fringe on a small budget, hang about afterwards and clear up the spare croissants, a packet of ham slices and a bit of cheese, sorted!

You may have noticed how I used the word “squeezed” earlier, I do not lie, the show is often sold out and the seats are very narrow, there is NO room for long legs, big bottoms or wide shoulders. Depending on the size of your neighbours you may find yourself sitting slightly uncomfortably  to slot in with them. Be assertive! Get yourself comfy and sit your ground (unless you’re sitting next to me!). And don’t think you can leave a crafty seat free for some breathing space, as the venue fills up everywhere is scrutinised for room, that seat will be filled!

Another TOP TIP, on your way into C+1 be sure to find yourself a sturdy flyer if you haven’t been organised enough to remember your fan! Oh yes, it’s gonna get warm, really warm, but you can at least take some comfort in the fact that you would be way hotter if the show was still in it’s original venue C+3.

By now you may be wondering if Shakespeare for Breakfast is really worth the early rise, the pain and discomfort, but yes, it is, well, most years it is (I cannot lie there has been the odd dodgy year). Indeed this is testimony to how good C Theatre are!! For myself and many others, this is one of our great Fringe traditions, this is sooo Fringe! I haven’t missed one since my first in 2002, a panto of Romeo & Juliet. “Hello Nursey, ‘ows your floury baps?” we’d all holler whenever the dame, sorry, Nurse came on.

It is a great way to start a day at the Fringe. Yes, but you haven’t said anything about the show itself, well, it’s Shakespeare with a twist. Sometimes it’s based on one of his plays, sometimes it takes characters from all over the bardverse and puts them in a modern situation. It’s Shakespeare and it’s silly and there’s always a song at the end. Nuff said.

Great Shakes & not so great shakes.

Y’know I really should do my blog earlier in the evening but I always allow myself to get sucked into catching up on the other blogs I follow …… two hours later! I procrastinate by reading the Procrastinator’s Day Off, oh the irony!

Anyways, old Shakey, how many ways have I seen thee? Let me count the ways. As straight no-messing-about productions go I’ve not seen many, Coriolanus was memorable, Venus & Adonis less so but for the venue it was in. Hamlet I’ve seen as a Panto, performed on a bouncy castle and something called Fat Hamlet, which I have absolutely no recollection of!

I do have a fond but vague memory of A Midsummer Night’s Dream re-write where the set was just a huge old sofa in a student flat; they sat on it, sprawled on it, clambered over it, hid behind it. Yep, the sofa was the star.

Then, of course, there’s the Scottish play. In 2000, we had the one man retelling of it with Homer Simpson taking the lead. Checking back, apparently I also saw a Japanese production of it that year, you might think that one would have stuck in the mind! More memorable was Macbeth Pruned & Henry V Pulped by the Flying Pig Theatre way back in 1997. Henry V was done Tarantino-style but it was Macbeth as a “if it can go wrong it will” amateur theatre show that was hilarious. We bumped into the cast two nights later queuing  for another Macbeth retelling, they were very happy to hear we’d enjoyed as they didn’t seem too positive, but just as we’d buoyed them up, the show we all saw deflated them again.

That would be Elsie & Norm’s Macbeth. See, Norm wasn’t taken with all that flowery stuff Shakespeare came out with, so he’d rewritten Macbeth, proper northern stuff, like, and with wife Elsie and various cuddly toys they were going to perform it to us. If my memory serves me right Banquo was a large cuddly panda (with added sheet as a ghost) and yes, Fleance was a small panda. But the most interesting Fringe history fact is that Elsie was played by Pip Utton! Yes, he who is known for his brilliant monodramas playing such as Adolf Hilter and Maggie Thatcher. A quick look in this year’s programme shows he’s doing his Greatest Hits, methinks he won’t be including Elsie, but he should!!

Oo , I nearly forgot, in 2002 at what was the Gateway Theatre on Elm Row, in a small, very hot room, about a dozen folk sat with binoculars to watch Tiny Ninja Theatre presents Macbeth. The actors were dime store figures and inch high plastic ninjas, Mr & Mrs Smile as Macbeth and his Lady were particularly good. Though the audience couldn’t help a chuckle or two, the cast played it very straight, bit of a juxtaposition. I was very sorry the company didn’t return to the Fringe.

There’s only one other company I really have to mention when it comes to Shakespeare at the Fringe, but I’ll leave that til breakfast.

How would you like your Shakespeare, madam?

As you can imagine there’s plenty of Shakespeare at the Fringe, in all manner of states, pruned,  punked, as panto, in the park, on bouncy castles, and occasionally the odd straight down the line, no messing, performance of the bard’s work.

Probably the first company who took pruning the Bard to a new art form were the Reduced Shakespeare Company. I never actually saw that show, but in 1996 I saw them perform The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged). I did see them again, no idea which show it was, I just remember a rousing song of “Everybody hates the French” which pops back in my head every year around the time of the Six Nations Rugby. Anyway, I digress…

In any year there’ll be a variety of takes on the likes of Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this year take your pick of two Comedy of Errors. One is by a “vibrant young cast (who) bring the story right up to date”, the other is “Shakespeare meets Ska, Two-tone and Rudeboy”, all sorts for everyone. Personally I reckon Mr S would have approved of these adaptations  (so long as he saw some royalties!)

I do like to try to see something of Shakespeare each year, makes me feel cultured, y’know. Besides that endeavour,  since 2002 I’ve had Shakespeare for Breakfast once each Fringe – it starts at 10 o’clock in the morning, that’s ridiculously early when I’m on a day off work. S4B are a great company and though I don’t “recommend” shows generally (more on that later), this is one show that is sooo Fringe, go see!

Well, it’s very late so I’ll say toodle-pip, more on old Shakey next time.