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).

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!)

Heeeere’s August!

July did seem awfully short but at least it was toasty. Now as the first of the new month ebbs away, I’m wondering how the Fringe got so close without me organising any tickets?! Maybe its the complete lack of large posters everywhere? No programmes lying around the place to be marked up, cut up, saved for best? The town is busying up now but it feels more like a June rather than nearly Fringe time.

I have been looking at the In Person shows on the Fringe website and some ideas jotted down. Interestingly I noticed this evening that Barry Ferns isn’t down as doing the whole Fringe run now, but from the 20th until the end. Did he have second thoughts about his knees handling a full run? I really wouldn’t blame him. And John-Luke Roberts in the programme with another show than the one at the Monkey Barrel, he’s bringing back his Terrible Wonderful Adaptations for two nights at the Assembly Roxy. He’s more like an MC, ringmaster of the bizarre and absurd, in TWA so I’ll pass as I’m seeing him elsewhere, and it is £12 a ticket. That money may be spent instead seeing Watson: The Final Solution, also on at the Assembly Roxy.

I have to be very wise with my money this year, what with no three days of cheap previews, no Assembly locals’ ticket offer, no Half Price Hut (ok, I am just assuming there won’t be an equivalent this year). My Fringe fund has never seemed so finite before! Do enough staring at screens these days, so I’m determined to see mainly live shows, there may be a few tantalising nuggets online, but as I’ve always said, “If the rest of the world wants to turn on my doorstep to entertain me – who am I to say no?!” Ergo, the shows on my doorstep get first dibs over flat screen offerings.

So far theSpace venues have a number of shows that interest me and as most shows are just doing short runs this year I’d best get on and book some tickets. Oh, and there’s booking fees to add in, £1.25 per ticket, up to £5 per transaction; I need to book enough at a time to make it worth it.

Ho hum. Maybe I should buff up my ukulele playing and try busking for some extra pennies – most likely thrown to make me stop! I must bid you all good night, it’s rather late now.

Good night, dear hearts 💛

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!