A hard act to follow

The National Theatre Live had a new screening last Wednesday, nice timing to whet the appetite for some theatrics at the Fringe, only eight days away now! Apparently it was the highest grossing event cinema release in the UK, not surprising as the star (and only person in it) is Jodie Comer of Killing Eve fame; Prima Facie is her West End debut and boy, she is bloody tremondous in it! A hundred minutes of monologue and she kept us hanging on every word – a high bar for any one to reach in the next month.

Jodie Comer plays Tessa a brilliant young barrister who specialises in defending men accused of sexual assault, the start of the play sees her swagger and treat the job like a sport to be won, winning points (there’s something of a reminder of Villanelle); then, after being raped by a male work colleague, she comes the realisation that someone else will be trying to score all those same points if she presses charges.

The set is two large, grand wooden tables and leather chairs which Comer moves around herself during her monologue, she also has slight changes of clothing to gracefully and unobtrusively manage whilst speaking. She takes books and ledgers down from the walls to later replace them again, files light up signifying the number of cases of sexual assault, but our eyes stay on Comer and her brilliant performance. An amazing piece of theatre but it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of the truth of how courts work and how little truth can mean in a court of law.

Now I did say at the end of my last blog post that that would be it on local live music for a bit, but last Friday night was a tad special at Stramash. I mentioned that the Willie Dug Band had been moved from the 7pm slot to the 10pm slot; it was Willie Dug‘s other band the Miracle Glass Company who were playing on Friday, and boy they were good. I got into them thanks to a playlist by Logan’s Close on Spotify that I listened to a lot during the first Lockdown (I was being cheap and listening for free). The MGC are back playing together again and have two gigs next week, if it wasn’t the start of the Fringe I would have tried to get a ticket. Oh well, there’ll be more opportunities.

Last night saw the end of the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival and I saw the ever delightful Nicole Smit and her Travelling Tent Show. Unfortunately it was a drizzly evening so I stayed under one of the big umbrellas until the queue had gone and I could dash straight into the Piccolo Tent. It’s rather nice in there, red velvet drapes on the walls and well-padded tiered seating (There used to be another old spiegeltent, the Bosco, which just had wooden benches, rather numbing on the bottom!) Locals the Tenement Jazz Band were backing our chanteuse; there was also the bonus of Kat Brooks singing a few numbers and shimmying around in white fringed dress (oh my!). Blind Boy Paxton popped in for one song, it was quite a show all in all.

The Assembly George Square Garden stays open this week, hoping the footfall won’t fall too much between the Festivals. The other bar area in Teviot Square is up and running too, it opens a few weeks early so that all the graduates have somewhere to celebrate straight after walking out of the McEwan Hall (literally next to it!). This shows the power of advertising – I really can’t say whose beer garden it is! I walk past it a lot, every year, but to me it’s just “the bar bit in Teviot Square”, I assume one of the big names has it?! The Pleasance Courtyard are busy getting ready, the big 33 sign still wasn’t up yesterday.

The town is getting busy now, not long to go. Must dash, just noticed on Facebook that The Scat Rats are playing Stramash tonight, something of a departure for them, on a Monday!

Toodle pip!

《Didn’t click hard enough last night – it’s been hanging half published, oops!》

That turned out pretty damn fine!

Last night wasn’t a good Friday night, it was a great Friday night! Oh yeah, I finally got round to seeing Free Guy and I think I may have to go see it again on the big screen before it disappears, I ❤ Ryan Reynolds. There’s a lot that I love about this movie – RR, Jodie Comer, Channing Tatum, Taika Waititi, great choices of music for some of the big scenes (especially the scene using Mama Cass’s Make Your Own Kind of Music), it is sooo visually stunning, a wickedly funny, witty script and, for me, great ideas and layers all delivered with a weirdly gentle innocence and charm.

I didn’t actually know much at all about Free Guy but it’s got Ryan Reynolds in it so that’s enough for me. I had heard stuff but had forgotten the details, like that Jodie Comer is in it. When Molotov Girl first appeared she made me think of Danni Minogue, then when I saw Millie, oh yay, it’s Villanelle, ah, yes, when you need someone who can do accents! The opening sequence with all the “sunglasses guy” stuff was such fun, and Channing Tatum too! Something of the premise came back to me, Free City is an online open-world video game and Guy is a background character who somehow breaks from his programming, game world and real world interactions ensue …. As I’m not a gamer at all I floundered a little, er, NPC? A non-player character? Ah, a background character within the game, yeah, I don’t play these games at all.

So, Guy, a mild-mannered bank teller, living a regular life, doing the same things every day, happens to spot the girl of his dreams – not part of his daily routine, it triggers something and he starts being more than he should be, he does the unexpected, he takes a pair of sunglasses off a bank robber, wow, the sunglasses let him see things he didn’t know were there (bit of an unwitting Matrix blue pill moment there). What Guy doesn’t understand is that the glasses are showing him what a game player sees, with them on the NPC becomes a game player and he moves away more from his programming, which causes Millie and everyone in the real world to think he’s a player/hacker. Guy finds Molotov Girl but she tells him he must level up to above 100 if he wants to speak to her again and shows him how to click the side of the sunglasses to see his level. He doesn’t really understand it but he really wants to see her again, how to level up? Take guns and money, she tells him, but he’s a good guy, and so begins the ascent of Blue Shirt Guy.

No more plot for you, just that Guy helps Molotov Girl in his world to help Millie in the real world fight the bad guy Antwan, played deliciously by Taika Waititi. Guy’s fight to be free to do whatever he wanted made me think of Wreck-It Ralph (another great film imo). There’s plenty in this film that sparks thoughts about other films, oo, a fresh one, remember Chris Hemsworth’s dancing in Ghostbusters and Bad Times At The El Royale? Channing’s moves in this made me think of how good he was in the tap-dancing sequence in Hail, Caesar! We need a film with the two of them in a dance-off – Mr Waititi, if you’re not busy?!

Yes, I need to see it again, there’s also Respect to see this week before it finishes, possibly Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings too. Thursday sees the new Bond film oot, that looked pretty good on the trailer. Oh yeah, I saw a trailer for Venom: Let There Be Carnage too, really looking forward to that!

You may be thinking that was my Friday night done, oh no, I hoofed it quickly down to Stramash to catch Willie Dug and his band (not the Cosmic Gents as seen at the Voodoo Rooms a couple of weeks ago). This was Willie on guitar and vocals with a drummer and a guy on harmonica, nothing more needed to make sweet sounds! Willie Dug is one magnificent hound, oozing style and charisma, shades of a young Malcolm McDowell, especially when he stripped off his shirt and put on a faux leopard fur jacket that was lying on a barrel just in front of the stage.

The Stramash crowd were really up for dancing, the band delivered and then some. For me the best of the bunch were Come Together (I notice it’s become a popular one to cover since the lockdowns), Roadhouse Blues and the final, one more song, Not Fade Away, ah, a song with many fine memories for me. The minimalness of the band recalled Bluefinger for me, Not Fade Away was a fitting number to head out into the night air on. To paraphrase from Free Guy.….

I may not be real, but for a couple of hours there I felt pretty alive