Ring, ring! Yorkshire calling Edinburgh!

Suddenly in August I get phone calls “So how’s Edinburgh? I was just wondering…..?” The rest of the year hardly a peep, not that I mind that; I did think I’d gotten away with it this year, usually a call comes at the start of August not half way through. Of course, I still have things I want to see, and my moose cave, well, when I say it’s a pit, I mean it’s really a pit right now, like the pittiest pit ever, August is not a month for cleaning.

And what to take them to? Good call that I bought two tickets with my Friends of the Fringe discount for Sleeping Trees: Christmas Special, if they don’t find that funny they’re dead to me! I’m thinking of Privates: A Sperm Odyssey too, any excuse to see it again, truly epic in silliness. Eggs Benedict at Em’s Kitchen is a must. Oo, yay, Logan’s Close are playing at the Cowshed tonight at 10pm, its probably gonna be heaving, but not to be missed.

I should go and at least do some washing up,  I suppose. Show willing, play the host. Wonder if I’m gonna get a call that they got lost after leaving Waverley Station? Said they knew where to come, hmmm.

Toodle pip!

 

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!

 

 

Still the loveliest man on the Fringe!

After seeing thirty six shows in the first eleven days I took a bit of a breather, that’s not to say I didn’t wander out to savour the atmosphere, chat to flyerers, mooch around Bristo Square. Mind, I didn’t go out any more than necessary last Sunday, a very very wet day indeed; the old moose cave did need a bit of a tidy round too.

Tuesday I dipped my toe back in, going to see the loveliest man on the Fringe, Aidan Goatley, once again at Sweet Grassmarket. Mr Goatley has a brand new show this year Aidan Goatley: Happy Britain Part I. I knew about his idea to find the centre of all 105 counties in the UK and to ask who ever he finds there what makes them happy, but what happened? Why Part I? Let’s face it, it was a pretty huge undertaking, so bad news – he didn’t manage it as quickly as first envisaged, as so often happens in life; good news – there’s Part II to look forward to next year (touch wood!).

We hear all about the ups and downs of his attempt, along with amazing stories about the folk he’s met on his travels, oh, I could have sat and listened to him all evening, such a wonderful raconteur. Alas the show came to an end, a lovely end which sent us all back out into the world uplifted, glowing with warm fuzziness (like the old Ready Brek advert). In fact after getting home that evening I just had to dip back into his book Never Eat The Buffet at a Sex Club* (*contains no food or sexual references), a collection of his previous work. It was almost like he was in the room reading to me 💛

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Oh, my giddy aunt!

I can’t believe I haven’t yet given a mention to Russian Roulette, how remiss of me! Yes, they’re back again, the new, improved version, well, it’s an upright roulette wheel, more visual I guess. No longer down in the hidden warren in La Belle Angele, Russian Roulette are in the Balcony room at Gilded Balloon Teviot at 10.15pm (which gives Mr Seaward just forty five minutes before he’s back on stage for more Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories!). Be warned, it is a tad warm in there, grab a cold drink to take in with you.

The evening I went Crime And Punishment was taken for a spin. The play begins as normal, then the horn sounds, the wheel is spun and things get odd! The number landed on dictates how the play progresses – there are thirty seven bizarre ways to proceed with titles like Borscht Surprise, Beard Ban and I’m Stuffed, luckily, our host Will Seaward is on hand to explain what each means to our unfortunate actors. Our brilliant ensemble have to battle on through the play never knowing when the horn may sound again to add more confusion to the plot.

Yes, this is as bonkers as it sounds and more!! Our players are most excellent, a seriously talented troupe. Really, you will laugh your socks off! Oh, and the lovely Mr Sullivan Brown is usually flyering near Bristo Square before the show, do go say hello.

Toodle pip!

Shaking all over……

You know me, I do like a little Shakespeare with my Fringe! As ever, I’ve had my breakfast date with C Theatre, of coffee and croissant and their latest shenanigans, and as ever they were bloody brilliant! Shakespeare for Breakfast don’t flyer or have posters around the town, at least I’ve never seen any of either, the blurb in the Fringe programme is fun and intriguing enough to pull in newbies (and just having Shakespeare in the name helps) and there’s plenty of fans like me who go every year.

This year’s frolics put Romeo & Juliet in two warring coffee shop families. The puns were flying thick and fast with fine comedic timing; for all the fun these guys are wonderful actors who are skilled at their craft, making it look effortless. I see this year they’re also doing an evening show Shakespeare Up Late! at 9.35pm, the blurb reads “from sex toys to soliloquies”, I think we get the idea! Yay, it’s at C Aquila aka Roman Eagle Lodge, a favourite (if a tad warm) venue of mine. I shall be getting me a ticket.

Last week saw the wonderful Tim Fitzhigham and Thom Tuck take to a makeshift stage in the basement of Black Medicine to perform Macbeth in one hour. And if that wasn’t absurd enough, each day they had a different director adding to the mix, the evening I was there it was Ahir Shah, okay, so I’d never heard of him before but he was rather lovely and very funny (worth checking out, I think).

Tim and Thom together with Shakespeare, it doesn’t get anymore Fringe than that!!! Both eloquently silly, nonchalantly charming, achingly funny, and bloody good at what they do! They did include plenty of actual Shakespeare along with the laughs and Thom ended up in a long black dress and a wig as Lady Macbeth, yeah, I did half expect that to happen! I do hope they team up again another year, the chemistry between them is too wonderful not to be repeated.

The Owle Schreame are back with A Midsummer Nights Droll. So that’s Shakespeare with the dull, boring bits taken out and the comedy bumped up (not a thousand miles from what Shakespeare for Breakfast do today, but this is from 350 years ago). That’s the very abbreviated version, if you go to see them at Gilded Balloon Teviot (at 10.45 in the morning!) then you’ll hear a history of Droll from Brice Stafford at the start of the show – its worth going just to listen to his magnificent voice.

Actually it’s an whole ensemble of magnificence and mischievery, performing with glee and boisterous enthusiasm (the singing of Cuckoo’s Nest was particularly bawdy). And Titania! Be still, my beating heart! Beautiful, strong, coquettish, a woman who knows what she wants – never was Titania so lovely!  Oh, and a special mention to Cobweb, Peaseblossom and Mustard Seed, a talented wee trio. The lion costume has had me musing on my Halloween costume this year, I reckon I could make myself a pretty good mane like that!

So I’ve seen three of Will’s big ones and have noticed there’s also Noir Hamlet on at theSpace @ Venue 45, that would make up a nice set I reckon.

Anyhoo, my bed awaits.

Adieu, kind friends.

I need some beauty sleep!

Crikey, it’s way past bedtime, I’ve got work in the morning, oh and the neighbours have just started arguing, joys! Here’s me needing my bed and Will Seaward will have just begun his midnight show, Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories VI once again in the Dining Room at the Gilded Balloon Teviot. Yes, there’s more spooky shenanigans going on, and yay, there’s the return of Louloulou and her boyfriend (whose name escapes me just now) in one of the stories. This is definitely not a show for everyone, but if you like bonkers, daft, eloquently told yarns then it may just suit!

Oo yeah, last Friday night at 22.55 I saw The Slinks in Dexter at the Underbelly Bristo Square; a show sure to divide opinion and bewilder – I’m not what I witnessed but it was whimsical, disturbing, mesmerising, kooky. Hugo Hamlet’s voice was sublime, very much reminding me of early Lou Reed. I have a friend who would so totally love this show, alas I doubt she could ever manage to stay up so late, pity.

Also a pity was the lack of audience, there was myself, two others and a couple of staff sat in. I guess the late time slot and the fact that they’re not listed in the paper-form Fringe Programme, just on the online version, may be contributing factors. If you fancy a trip to another realm one night The Slinks can take you there!

Toodle pip!

 

Flyerers are our friends

Don’t laugh! Okay, so I refer to those flyering their own shows, those who put themselves up for rejection, ridicule and some downright rudeness. Have you ever actually tried to engage with one? And I don’t mean listening to their autospiel – that’s almost like a security blanket they can hide behind; smile and ask a question, there’s often a realignment pause as they realise you’re still standing there interacting with them. I’m not saying chat to every flyerer, crikey, the thought of it! Some shows you know are definitely not for your thing, but if something, anything, makes you smile or think, like the flyerer’s attire or manner, the glimpse you caught of the flyer, pause a moment.

I spotted him in a pretty authentic-looking WW1 uniform so 20190808_154012trotted over to find out more. He’s a personable chap, one Shane Palmer over from Melbourne, the performer and writer of Echoes Of Villers-Bretonneux, on at 3.10pm at Greenside@Nicolson Square (a venue I’ve never been to before so I had a little nosy around – nice cafe). So glad I did notice him as it was an excellent one man play, both in the conception and performance. The minimal set of a multi-use wooden pallet was great and I have to admit I didn’t know about puttees before; sure I’ve seen plenty of old pictures of men in army uniforms but didn’t realise the lower leg part was a long strip of cloth wound spirally around the calf. Just the detail of him putting them on and taking them off while recounting his story fascinated me.

Another chap in a hat, this time a woolly one with a furry bobble (the hat not him), flyering his own one man show Will Penswick: Nørdic(k) along with Mark & Haydn : Llaugh – a flyer has two sides, I admire the camaraderie and economy of this idea (both shows are at Just the Tonic at The Caves in Just The Wee One). I’m not hugely into Scandi noir but I do like it and thought a send-up of it could be fun. Oh yes, indeed! And he was going for full audience participation, well, there weren’t many of us at the performance, mind we were quite a bunch of oddities, and we were all up for embracing the moment.

Though, and here comes a mini-rant, some folk wandered in about twenty or so minutes after the start, wtf?! It’s one thing someone coming ten minutes late (which someone did) but over twenty minutes into a show?! Just because it was Pay What You Want (ie you can go without a ticket and just put into the bucket at the end) shouldn’t mean you wander in whenever, just a touch of exasperation escaped Will’s composure, he is a professional (just as well it was his show, some comedians would have ripped them apart for such an offence). He kinda got his own back getting one of them up for a part that required remembering something that was mentioned in the first twenty minutes, he did get in a good-natured dig about it! Will did come across well, keeping in character while putting his audience at ease. As I said before, there weren’t many there but this is a great show and deserves way more people seeing it, though I doubt he’ll forget the day I was there, no, not because there was a moose there, hell there were folk way weirder than me there!

And if you read my last post you’ll know The People’s Boat people also enticed me in by flyer. So if you’re at the Fringe, or any other Festival around the world, take a moment, have a chat, remember flyerers are human too.

Toodle pip!

Adrift on the Mile…..

Ho, yes. I know a photo opportunity when I see one! Alas my photographer didn’t spot the sun glare off the flyer, tsk, it reads The People’s Boat on at Greenside at Infirmary Street at 9pm (I do quite like this venue, it’s an old school, a building with character, and a place I’ve never seen a duff show). If I’m looking a little pensive its because I was imagining us being swept away by one of the sudden monsoon deluges plaguing Edinburgh at the moment.

So did I see the show? Yes I did and it was bloody good! I was slightly concerned at the start that it may be a bit too political for my taste, but no, it’s more political commentary and an insightful look at human weaknesses. For example, when one of the actors isn’t happy at playing a racist character for fear of being personally tainted by it, the others rationalise it (with what I thought was a brilliant example of Anthony Hopkins and Hannibal Lechter) but also make snide jokes at the same time, and then they all use the flimsiest of excuses why they can’t play that part. I know that whole scenario so well; if it doesn’t resonate with you, its probably because you’re the one doing it to an unfortunate colleague.

They also brought up the now thorny issue of who’s allowed to act what parts, handling it very well I thought in a no-nonsense way. Personally, yes, I can see that disservices have been and are still being done, but also, it is acting! Acting is all about pretending to be something you’re not.

The whole play-within-a-play was very meta, with great lighting effects for the switches between the two. Before the first switch to the actors I could feel a slight uneasiness in the audience, the laugh when it came was from a sense of relief! We’d been let it on the joke and were now all in the same boat. It reminded me of Brendon Burns’ show back in 2007, but he just kept going and going, pushing it right til the end when he finally let us in on the gag, oh how we laughed (and slightly wanted to hurt him for putting us through all that).

But was it funny, Brucie? Yes, indeedily. It’s funny and witty as well as sharp and insightful. The four lads are great, slipping seamlessly between actors and characters, and they bounce off each other really well. Definitely a company to watch out for at future fringes!

 

Let’s hit the Hut….

And just like that the previews, the 241 days and Black Wednesday are behind us, only two and a half weeks to go! At least now the Half Price Hut is open. Let’s see what’s on…..

Flicking quickly through my eye is drawn to The Pat Hobby Stories at Gilded Balloon Teviot, hmmm. Oo, The Stander Gang is there, I saw this play last week after being flyered by the lads performing it. I enjoyed it, it was a little disjointed, but hey, there was a lot of story to put in; I did realise I’d heard of Andre Stander when I was speaking to them, a notorious policeman turned criminal in South Africa (a film was made of him starring Thomas Jane). They’re only on until Sunday 11th, So If you fancy it, be quick.

The Grey Cat And The Flounder is there, I do love this poster, it speaks to me! Mind, I also really like the poster for Monsoon Season but reading the blurb I have a niggling doubt about it. Maybe if it’s still at the HPH later in the Fringe when I’ve had a chance to see some reviews.

I see Modern Maori Quartet: Two Worlds is there, lovely chaps. I went to their Garage Party last week, noticed there’s a slight change in the line-up, gonna need another photo! The Three Deaths of Ebony Black and The Long Pigs are both there, I’ve seen them both, both shows are proper Fringe stuff. The Long Pigs was in the wonderful Assembly Roxy Central; the Roxy does tend to attract weird shows and this show really proves the point – it’s odd, it’s bizarre, it’s surreal and mesmerising. What’s it about? Erm, warped clowns, that’s all I’ll say; if ordinary clowns freak you out then this isn’t the show for you.

Goodness me, Max & Ivan are doing HPH tickets. Hmmm, I did used to quite like them but the last couple of times I saw them I wasn’t keen in the direction they seemed to be going in. Moon: We Cannot Get Out is there, I saw that last night and quite enjoyed it. I’ll clarify quite, some parts and some of their ideas were really good, but some just didn’t do it for me, having said that I will watch out for them again next year.

Guess I should get out and find some eggs benedict to eat before my first show, that’s Super Hugh-Man, ticket bought at the Half Price Hut yesterday evening. Another kiwi! Oo yeah, Laser Kiwi have tickets at the HPH too, just sayin’.

Toodle pip!

Just a quickie! Matron!

The trouble with Fringing is finding time to tell you about it, so I’m stealing some sleep time to mention a few highlights so far. Crikey, I need a fan on here, it’s a warm humid night after a warm humid day with the odd monsoon shower thrown in.

Shakespeare for Breakfast are on top form again this year, they’re so good and the writing is very witty and sharp, loved it. Goodbear and Sleeping Trees both 5☆ but I think Goodbear can have a + too (my scoring my rules).

Laser Kiwi, yay , brilliantly bonkers, incredibly bendy and I ❤ Imogen. And from Australia comes Echoes of Villers-Bretonneux, written and directed by Shane Palmer; I saw him in full gear flyering on the Mile, well, I do like a man in uniform so I was persuaded! Poignant and understated, quite moving.

The Shark Is Broken is directed by Guy Masterton, so of course it’s great, and fan of Jaws will love it. And last but definitely not least, I’m not long in from Nick Helm’s I Think You Stink, which I utterly and thoroughly loved. If you’re a fan of Rocky Horror then this is for you; great songs, great cast (including Rob Kemp, yay) and bubble wrap!!

Nightly night, sleep tight.