Last but never least…..

Yes, I know I said “tomorrow night” over a week ago, but I’ve been busy! Yes, busy, sleeping, working, eating. I haven’t even got round to seeing Tarantino’s new film yet, though I did manage to squeeze in Toy Story 4 (again), well, it is such a perfect film (to me, maybe not to you, but it is to me) and it left me feeling all happy and fuzzy.

Happy and fuzzy are good, see that’s how I like my last evening of the Fringe to be, I like a happy, bittersweet ending. But what did I do this year? Will had already left, I felt a tad bereft! Why, Mr Seaward has been rounding off my Fringe since 2013, yes, that’s the year before he started his Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories. Let me take you back…….

Monday 26th, it was a balmy evening, myself and a few friends were drinking in the Pleasance Courtyard, well, continuing drinking after the wonder that was the final Monday show of Tim Fitzhigham: Challenger (there are those who will remember the significance of it being a final Monday show for Tim, I shall just say, legendary!!). Flyerers were hovering around, desperately trying to tempt punters into one last show; we all had work in the morning and the alcohol was fast taking effect, so no amount of cajoling could sway us but we lapped up the attention. We had a right laugh with them all, generally waylaying their spiel with “So how’s your Fringe been?” plenty were happy to sit and blether before heading off to find more potential victims.

As we sat basking in a warm alcoholic glow, and I’ll quote from my Fringe diary here “a ruddy-faced, Crystal Tipps-haired chap came over to entice us to his show, we explained it would be too late (11.30pm) but invited him to sit down and join us a while and he did. Turns out he did the Bouncy Castle shows a few years back ……….Inevitably we later decided to head to Teviot to see him.” Yes, that was Will, and we were all so charmed and drunk that we agreed just one more last show would be fine!

So we turned up for Will Seaward: Socialist Fairytales! in The Turret, front row seats, we had no fear, we had more beer! I do recall Will got one of my friends up on the stage to play a witch, the idea being he had to fight the witch and she should try to get him to the ground, he wasn’t actually expecting her to almost succeed! He admitted later that she wasn’t as drunk as he’d thought, but she was drunk enough to be determined to achieve what he’d asked of her. What a great Fringe ending, and with that a new tradition was born.

Aaaand back to 2019. For the first time ever I took the final Monday off work, well, I did have my guest still up and thought I might start some tidying round (Yeah, right, the tidying was never gonna happen). I’d bought two tickets with my Friend of the Fringe deal to see A Midsummer Night’s Droll on the Monday morning before my guest headed for the train, however a late change of plans meant an earlier train back, so I ended up going on my own, ho hum. Not that I minded, I’d picked that show as they’re one of my favourite companies of the last few years and I’d get to see Titania again! Yay!

So what did I finish 2019 with? Well, the tried and tested method myself and Bud had, was to see again something we’d seen near the start and really rated, something silly and totally Fringe. Previous last shows have included Jeremy Lion, Otis Lee Crenshaw, the Les Clöchards, and the Penny Dreadfuls (three times!). Something silly and totally Fringe, a surefire brilliant show I’d seen before…..what a minute! What about an added bonus of a show seen – but also not seen before, a show as random as the spin of a wheel! Russian Roulette!

As Will had departed, our host for the evening was Sullivan Brown (looking very dapper in a sparkly jacket), presiding over the night’s production of Chekhov’s The Seagull. I’ve never seen The Seagull before – some may say I still haven’t seen it. Oh, it was marvellous, I was riveted! The plot seemed a little bizarre but hey, it’s Russian, maybe that’s how they roll. I felt for Konstantin, and poor Nina getting dysentery, and the chap who had a faberge egg for a head!! I wasn’t expecting Rasputin to show up, and that impression he did of Christopher Walken? Mind-blowing! But how did Donald Trump get there? Okay, so I remember that it turned out to be set in space, but did I miss some time travel bit?! Oh yeah, that roulette wheel may have had something to do with it 😆

Toodle pip!

 

What ever happened to the sideburns?

So back in April Logan’s Close played the Voodoo Rooms with a new addition of a keyboard player – fine. Next thing, the new pics on FB only show four guys, four plus one should be five? Was it an aesthetics thing – sorry only four to a photo, five would be too much!? The drummer with the great sideburns seems to be oot of the picture, literally. The Close have a new single out soon, no doubt they’ll play Edinburgh to herald it’s arrival, and we’ll see who’s in or out. Same drummer, new drummer, drum machine?!?

It’s reminded me of one of my favourite Fringe acts, Dead Cat Bounce. They wrote a rather magnificence song about the day they fired the drummer, performed at the end of the show literally as though the other three had just agreed earlier that day to fire him. Nine years later I still laugh when I hear it, absolutely brilliant, but then Dead Cat Bounce were top class comedy writers and performers as well as being great musicians. They would most definitely be one of my Desert Island Fringe Acts!

Ironically it was the keyboardist who left the band just over a year later. Sadly the remaining trio only played the Fringe one more time in 2012, it wasn’t quite the same without Mick; and it put Outsized Orthopaedic Shoe and Four Lads off the playlist, shame. In 2013 they called it a day, well, playing live, until in 2017 they apparently did a 10th anniversary reunion show, and there’s a DVD of it!! I must hunt one down. I shall keep on with the occasional stalk to see what they’re up to, in case they reform proper!

The Penny Dreadfuls, particular favourites of mine, were originally a four-man sketch show when my buddy and I first came across them in their Victorian sketch show Aeneas Faversham. It was our favourite show that year, silly, surreal, clever, witty, and thoroughly British! The following year they pulled it off again with Aeneas Faversham Returns, by George, even Bud’s elderly maiden aunt loved it, especially the Invisible Man sketch – the one part we feared she would disapprove of! Why? Specimen 626 had escaped from the lab and they had to find him, he was invisible, at least to them on stage, we could all see Specimen 626 who was stark bollock naked! He was prancing around, jiggling about between the others talking trying to put them off, he even did a cartwheel across the stage! By the following Fringe Jamie (aka Specimen 626) had left them. Had the naked cartwheels been too much for him? So 2008 saw the Penny Dreadfuls down to a trio for Aeneas Faversham Forever, and they’re still loosely together, every now and again popping up on Radio 4 and Radio 4extra, besides following their own solo careers, occasionally popping up at the Fringe. David Reed is up for  four nights with Inside the Comedian and of course, Thom Tuck is up as usual doing lots of silly things with lots of silly people.

Just to show you there were originally four Penny Dreadfuls and also what an awesome act they are……

2019-07-16 19.14.09

behold, the Penny Dreadful playing cards! Yes, they didn’t just do badges, they had decks of playing cards! Three years in a row! The chap at the back of the middle card is Jamie. I wonder what became of him? And can he still cartwheel?

 

A turkey and a Tuck.

Goodness me, it’s the final week already. More shows finished at the weekend, new shows take their places and I have my eye on a few I’m thinking of seeing. As I’ve mentioned before I’ve seen this year’s turkey, its always good to get it out of the way, of course I could yet see another one! So what was this travesty of theatre that deserves the title of turkey?

Oh dear, I can hear my old mother’s voice, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all!” Sorry mother, it was Egg at Bourbon Bar as part of the Free Fringe. It was a packed out room, whether the rest were more up on what to expect, whether it was just their sort of thing I don’t know, but I just found it too pretentiously arty and she was too softly spoken to be heard at times. I try to find something to like about it and from the applause at the end others did seem to like it, though I noticed a number of folk walking past without putting anything in the bucket. Bad form! Only a show one walks out of early is worth nothing, if one is there til the end it’s worth at least some spare change or my usual is a fiver.

At the other end of the Fringe spectrum, I seriously enjoyed Thom Tuck’s show An August Institution, at 3pm at the Dragonfly. A wonderful hour of silliness and a rather bizarre make-over, I suspect those who got a lot out of Egg, may not appreciate Mr Tuck’s humour.

Well, I’ve enjoyed it since I first saw him in the Penny Dreadfuls’ Aeneas Faversham back in 2006, bloody excellent show it was! Saw them each year after that and when they all did solo shows. Thom was the one who continued to come up each year to do a variety of shows, including on the Free Fringe. His show one year even got enlongated into a short series on Radio 4! I saw his Scaramouche Jones in 2015 which delighted and moved me (it’s in my diary for 2025). Yes, I reckon he’s become an August Institution and long may he remain so!