Move over Lionel Ritchie, it’s Bea Arthur’s Seat now!

Hello you, I’m ba-ack, the moose is in the hoose. All my travel bits have been sorted, cleaned and put away, time to play! And yay, tonight sees the Scat Rats back at Stramash. Oh yeah, I realised some time after I wrote the last post that I hadn’t mentioned seeing the Scat Rats before, how remiss of me. A few weeks ago I popped into Stramash on my way to the cinema as I had some time to kill, some band called the Scat Rats were playing. Well, blow me down, it was Carl Marah and Scott Rough from Logan’s Close! Needless to say, I never made it to the cinema that evening, it was well after nine when the lads finished their second set. Just the two of them on acoustic guitars playing mainly covers and a few of their own. Oo, they played Babe Station, love that song, gonna have to go back and check it out on the Limbic TV gig, has it altered since then?

I’ve been back since Wednesday evening, just before six. I know it was just before six because I made a brew, grabbed some digestives and put the telly on just in time for Richard Osman’s House of Games. What a lovely surprise and long time no see, Andy Hamilton is on it this week (he’s doing rather well). He’s a very clever and very funny man; he’s created, written and directed comedies on radio and tv, he acts, writes novels and is known for appearing on radio and tv game shows. Apparently he still appears on The News Quiz on Radio 4, I don’t bother with it any more, gave up on it a few years years ago. For me, the Simon Hoggart years were the best, when Andy was on it regularly with the likes of Linda Smith, Jeremy Hardy and Alan Coren (them were the days!).

Googling Andy Hamilton, I’ve discovered that he performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in the 1970s going on to being a scriptwriter for tv comedies and radio. He’s been responsible for creating some great comedy – Drop the Dead Donkey in the 90s (essential viewing at the time), Outnumbered (out of the mouths of babies, nuff said), Old Harry’s Game on Radio 4 ( it did tail off in the later series) oh, and the wonderful film What We Did On Our Holiday. Bud and I saw him at the Fringe in 2009, he did one night at the Queen’s Hall, Andy Hamilton’s Hat of Doom. The review in my fringe diary reads “Good, sharp, but not really brilliant like we wanted. ☆☆☆☆”

If Andy wins tonight’s ROHOG he’s won the trophy for the week, he may well still win it if he comes second. I want him to win, he deserves it just for getting the answer Bea Arthur’s Seat in the Answer Smash round. Speaking of the Seat, I must go out and stretch my little legs.

Toodle pip!

Bags, uke, that’s me ready!

Just time for a quick catch up before I head off for a wee while, bags are packed, ukulele by the door so I won’t forget it. Yay, I did get to see Free Guy again! Still great on second watch. I also got to see the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, like wow, WOW!! Jennifer Hudson is sooo good. The film ended at the time when she recorded the live album Amazing Grace, the recording of which was filmed, a film I saw two years ago in the Filmhouse, sweet!

This week I luckily spotted that The Green Knight was on at the Filmhouse, a “last chance to see” Facebook post . It’s a re-telling of Gawain and the Green Knight, in this version Gawain is played by Dev Patel (the reason I wanted to see it, he’s getting better and better as he ages). Sumptuous and kinda arty, lots to enjoy, but I did feel it lacked a bit towards the end.

Stramash have very kindly released a lot of gig dates for October and November, so there’s Jed Potts, the Kennedy’s Project and Willie Dug to look forward to, and yay, the Scat Rats (aka Messrs Marah and Rough) will be back, and, double yay, not until after I’m back in toun. Ah, thinking of the Close, I recently went on a coastal meander and popped by Dunbar, look what I found, yay!

Just a jog away from Dunbar is Belhaven Bay, plenty sand, sea and surf. Oh yeah, the surf was up! A great place just to idle a while, shame I didn’t discover it midsummer, ah well. Beach Boys songs swam around in my head as I strolled across the sand; it struck me that it could well have been the Beach Boys sound that heavily influenced the Scat Rats if they’d spent more time on the beach…..

Toodle pip!

R.I.P. author/comic Lynn Ruth Miller… — SO IT GOES – John Fleming’s blog

Regular readers will know of the unique, seemingly indefatigable and gloriously multi-talented US comic Lynn Ruth Miller, an occasional and much-admired contributor to this blog. If not, type her name in this blog’s Search.  Multi-award-winning Lynn Ruth died of cancer yesterday afternoon in London. So it goes. In 2019, she explained that she didn’t plan […]

R.I.P. author/comic Lynn Ruth Miller… — SO IT GOES – John Fleming’s blog

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!

Just when it looked like the end, the cavalry arrived

Some shows finished up on Friday night, some yesterday, more will end today, just a few will carry on until the bitter end, tomorrow. Of course, the Free Festival actually added on a day to finish tomorrow! I know the Gilded Balloon finishes today, saw it on Facebook. I only went to one show there this year and I’m not sure if the Library Bar, a usual Fringe haunt of mine, was open as I never enquired.

Today, the final Sunday is the first time I’ll set hoof in the Pleasance Courtyard this Fringe! Usually I would have a casual wander through whenever I’m passing. Yes, today is the day Tim Fitzhigham is the Cabaret Bar (in fact it’s some years since I last saw a show in that particular room). Oo, I do hope he’s good, no, surely he won’t disappoint! He mustn’t! At least, I have the magnificent The Elvis Dead at quarter to midnight to end the night, and possibly my Fringe if there’s nothing I fancy tomorrow.

I know The Elvis Dead will be magnificent because one, I’ve seen it before, and two, Rob Kemp is awesome. I just saw his other show at the Monkey Barrel Comedy Club yesterday, Rob Kemp:Agenda (WIP) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Have I explained about WIP before? WIP is short for Work In Progress, ie don’t expect great things, the performer will probably be following their notes, losing their place, saying punchlines first,

《at that point my buzzer went, a fellow Tim Fan had arrived early to go to the show, so being a congenial host I paused in my writing…… so now it’s a few hours later》

Rob Kemp did all of the aforementioned, but, he was so likeable it just added to the charm of the show. It almost felt like a privilege to hear his words, his story was frank, funny and moving. And if you’ve seen Big Trouble In Little China it helps – he references it, oh, two or four times! In fact, just watch it if you can find it anyway, it’s a lot of fun, a very Eighties movie. Agenda was great and it would be good to see it again once he’s honed and polished it, but it’ll never be more honest than when I saw it as a WIP.

On to Tim Fitzhigham, yeah, his show Tim Fitzhigham: Here Now is not even at WIP stage really, more just at pre-planning, not like that would be a problem for this raconteur, anyway. He had his notes beside him and a watch to see how long he could keep going, being Tim he overran a tad but no-one, apart from a few that had a train to catch, minded. Plenty of us were obviously regulars to his shows, one group have been coming over from Portugal for ten years to see him at the Fringe; he had a great anecdote about meeting up with one of them in Portugal. Tim also recognised a chap at the end of the front row who had been his tech guy fifteen years ago, ah, he sucks us all in!

it was like Tim was a manic high from finally being back on an Edinburgh Fringe stage again. He had so much to share with us, his joie de vivre was infectious, there was new stuff and condensed classics, he even finished with his traditional final show party piece! One story we hadn’t heard before was about his Venezuelan adventure – I can’t believe he hasn’t done a whole show about it, he really should, I want to know more!!

Well, time is marching on, I could go have a drink at Stramash before heading to Monkey Barrel 4 for The Elvis Dead. I wonder what sort of music the band will be playing?

Toodle pip!

A fine final Friday

Friday morning I popped round to Mums for brunch – no, not all the way to Yorkshire, to Mums on Forrest Road, I’d noticed they do Eggs Benedict. Their full title is Mums Great Comfort Food, and it surely is. Like Luscious it was a no nonsense, no fancy twiddles, proper Eggs Benedict; perfect poached eggs on plenty of streaky bacon, atop a muffin and generous amounts of hollandaise sauce. It never looks like a big amount on a plate but, by God, it fills me up! I was all set to nip round to a PBH’s Free Fringe show at noon.

The venue was the Natural Food Kafe on Clerk Street, the show Van Gogh Find Yourself. Folk were already sat around various table sketching whilst waiting for the show to start (art materials supplied around the tables). Besides the people in the cafe, there was also an online audience, Vincent had two cameras set up so that he was seen and also the picture he was drawing as he spoke to us about his life. We were also encouraged to draw as we listened but it was very easy to become engrossed in his words and just sit back awhile. We started with a quick sketch each to kinda free ourselves up from our selfconciousness before he properly settled into telling his story. A fascinating and relaxing hour, well somewhere over it actually. It felt like we’d been in the actual presence of Van Gogh, I’m so, so glad I went – what did I create? See below.

As it was a gorgeous warm day I wandered up into the Park and dozed a bit. There were a couple of free shows that I could have made it to, but once I was settled in a wee sun spot I really couldn’t be bothered moving! Finally my tummy was rumbling so I headed to a large slice of lasagne for tea (made with hoggat mince from Annanwater at the Farmer’s Market, it works really well).

Last night I toddled back to Stramash to see a band called Moanin Bones, they were rather good, a rocky set and a tight sound. The crowd were well up for it, especially a large bunch of squawking hens; two rather drunk guys were highly entertaining, it looked like there could be murder on the dancefloor at one point. Had something previously happened before I arrived on the sidelines, or was it an ex who’d just come in with her friends? Whatever, the tension was palpable, eyes were throwing daggers at machine gun speed, thankfully (I think?!) he did the gracious thing and left, dignity drunken but not dented. People watching can be such a fun sport!

Mum’s Egg Benedict
Self portrait, Moose in the Park, well, I had to put a seat in there, come on!

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 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!)

Some nonsense is good, some is just nonsense.

Yesterday I caught three more shows, a lot of sitting around in darkened rooms, so I had a brisk walk around the Park and a strong coffee beforehand. Ah, I haven’t had a coffee yet, excuse me. That’s better, I’ll crack on. The third show I saw and am gonna give third place in ranking was Drown Your Sorrows in theSpace @ Symphony Hall. It wasn’t a good start when the music was too loud for the actors to be heard! Luckily the music wasn’t on long but even then some of the lines seemed a tad gabbled; what ever happened to enunciation and projection?! Mind, this was their first night so hopefully some director’s notes will steer them right.

Sorry, but much as I wanted to enjoy it, I did find it a bit lame. Oh, some in the audience, one area in particular, found it immensely funny – maybe they were in the sweet acoustic spot! Oh, it wasn’t all bad, the plot was okay and a few great moments and ideas. I bet in a normal Fringe year they’d be out flyering in the dinghy on the Royal Mile, oh they should do that anyway, grab any attention they can!

In second place I’ll put Kate Smurthwaite: The Last Mayor of Fihalhohi. She was in the Cinema Room at the Banshee Labyrinth, a small but sweet venue with well tiered, comfy seats. Having been pre-warned about the Banshee Labyrinth’s system, I turned up very early so that I could collect a “ticket” and head back into the sunshine awhile. It’s a PBH’s Free Fringe venue but the bar room and nooks and crannies, especially this year, are too small for the amount of people who might be wanting to hang around to catch a show (the shows here are always very popular). “Tickets” are available for each show up to an hour in advance from the man at the door, that way they can say when there’s no seats left (sometimes within five minutes the tickets being up for grabs), a much more civilised way than an arm across the venue doorway just after your friends have all got in and you’re left out!

That’s a great surname Smurthwaite! What with that and Fihalhohi in the show title, I had to go check it out, plus the blurb, “the most mind-blowing lockdown story you’ll ever hear”. It’s certainly a lockdown story that’ll be very hard to beat, it’s almost like a Bond movie – exotic islands, dramatic action, intrigue, a villain, a go-to guy, and, of course, some saucy shenanigans. It is good tale but one little niggle – as the time went by the narration became a bit clunky, like a slide projector clunking between slides. It may well have just been me that noticed it, but I suddenly had a vivid recollection of a teacher telling me that while my story was good, I should come up with other ways to say “and then”, funny the things that come back to you! Niggle aside, I did enjoy it, she is quite a lady!

My top spot for yesterday goes to Rob Duncan and Dan Lees: Extreme Nonsense. I was looking forward to this show – Dan Lees is one half of The Establishment, an absurdist duo who’ve been entertaining/disturbing me for a few years now. You’ll spot the title has just two names in it but there was another on stage with them, one third of Privates! Oh yay! These three gents are all very tall which added to the comedy as there was a large beam across the ceiling just above the front area of the stage – rather lower than all of them! Dave Alnwick must not be as tall as them, that or he kept well back from it! Once again I was in the cellar bar at the Canon’s Gait, in the same seat too (do other folk also tend to gravitate to seats they’ve sat in before?).

A seriously silly show! Not to everyone’s taste, these guys really know their absurdities. Some of it can almost come across as sinister and creepy, it doesn’t help knowing you have no clue what they might do next, well, maybe another refrain of “Call me Daddy”? Dan plays guitar for the songs, then Tom joined in on violin, he was rather good, I won’t say what he pulled out of the Gents loo at the side of the stage but he was rather good on that too! To be fair to the other shows I’ve reviewed, there were a few misses in this for me – they were too absurd?!

Hey, this means that though Privates have not brought their new show up to the Fringe, I will get to see all three of them! The other two thirds of Privates are up with their solo shows, yes, of course I have tickets. Anyway, must dash, I have a show to go to!