Some fleas are very talented

Late Sunday afternoon, the penultimate day of the Fringe, for many acts it is the final day. Earlier on the Out Of The Blue and the Improv Musical flyerers were all out in force again on the Royal Mile, come on, guys, I thought, there’s still time for something to go down. Very entertaining on the Royal Mile was a Flea Circus act that was just starting as I passed by, well, I had to go back and take a look. Not too closely mind, one look at my luxuriant fur and …. well! Doroflea, Hercuflea and Evel Knieflea are actually very skilled circus performers, an acrobat, strongman and daredevil respectively; the ringmaster was very fun with his many flea puns and he seems to treat his fleas well (I do hope it’s the same away from the showtimes).

that’s Doroflea on the highwire

It’s been a glorious day here, after my late morning saunter up the Mile I wandered round to Olly Bongo’s on Teviot Place for a spot of lunch. I am a creature of habit so, bacon, brie and cranberry panini with a white coffee, thank you. I was happily surprised that there were tables available when I peeked in, Olly Bongo’s is very popular and quite often full around lunchtime during the Fringe (always worth a look though, very tasty food). Pleasantly full I headed to join the queue outside The Jazz Bar for Blueswater Presents: Queens of the Blues; yes, another date with Nicole!

Queen of the Blues and a couple of knaves

Actually it was the third time I’ve seen her this week. No, it’s not stalking! For one thing, until I saw Blues! on Tuesday evening I wasn’t even particularly aware that she was part of that Blueswater show, and no, I didn’t go to the final ever Blues! show yesterday just for Nicole, it was a brilliant show with the most awesome rendition of The Wizard (and I got a HPH ticket). The Jazz Bar was full today, luckily I had a good view, apart from not being able to see Simon on drums, shame. Another cracking show from m’lady, in her words, an hour of sass, waffle and song. As the show title hints, she talks about the Queens of the Blues as she sings their songs; in forty, fifty years time will another young singer be putting on a Fringe show about her hero, the great Nicole Smit, who started out singing at the Fringe all those years before? I like to think so (oh, Nicole will still be going strong, and maybe one night she’ll turn up and they’ll do a duet!).

Tonight will be Accordion Ryan‘s final show, quick check on Instagram, good, nothing to say he’s had to cancel, yay, I shall be there, my fourth time – yes my fourth, I did go see him on Friday night and bagged a photo with him! (no, I’m not stalking him, it’s a free show at a time of the evening when it’s too early to go home but really, should I be having yet another drink? Answer, stay out and give Ryan my pint money). He did say he’d put in a different Ryan’s Original song, so I have to go for that and to soak up a few more happy vibes! I wonder where he’ll be heading to next, and whether he’d fancy giving an accordion and ukulele double act a go? Hahaha.

Ryan & Bruce, has a ring to it, don’t you think?

It’s just occurred to me – I haven’t made any plans for tomorrow!! If you’ve read about any of my previous end of Fringes you’ll know that wrapping up the Fringe well has always been very important to me. Final night shows have to be good, usually a favourite to end on. Erm, ahh, my end is in danger of fizzling out like the Fringe does, oh dear. Quick flick through accumulated flyers and saved cut-outs for shows seen, it looks like only the Pleasance and Gilded Balloon still have shows on tomorrow, and even at lot of theirs have finished today. No final evening show for a good send-off?! I suppose there’s the Open Mic Night at Whistlebinkies for entertainment. Hmmm, if Ryan hasn’t already left Edinburgh will he show up? That’s where I first saw him just before the Fringe, it would make for a very good bookend!

Toodle pip!

Fringey things are afoot….

Hi there! Bruce here, coming to you from deepest dankest Yorkshire, yes, even in summer the damp is never far away. I may be away from Auld Reekie but I’m keeping tabs on what’s happening, like Fringe tickets now being on sale! One thing I managed to miss is that social distancing will be down to one metre as of the 19th July (how did I miss that?!) On the Edinburgh Fringe website it says that the Scottish Government has advised that even the one metre could be lifted on 9th August; two thoughts on this, i) I’m not going to hold my breath, and ii) its a bit bloody late to appease anyone. Did the decision for allowing the drop to one metre come too late for Underbelly? Whatever, apparently Underbelly will not be going ahead with plans for a Circus Hub venue in the Meadows.

Underbelly will be back in George Square as well as having an outdoor stage in Bristo Square. Assembly Festival will also be back in George Square Gardens with one spiegeltent and an outdoor stage. The Pleasance will be creating an outdoor stage in the Courtyard, let’s face it so many of their spaces are cramped, they couldn’t happen this year! Summerhall will also make use of their courtyard as a venue space – where will folk do their boozing and schmoozing?! Gilded Balloon will as ever be in Teviot (I guess the Wee Room won’t be used this year). Heaven knows how the smaller venues will manage, or if they’ll bother even trying.

The Edinburgh Farmer’s Market may benefit from having a new venue right next to it; the top floor of the NCP car park on Castle Terrace is to be an open air festival hub run by the Gilded Balloon, Traverse Theatre, DanceBase and Zoo Venues. At least I hope the Farmer’s Market will still be able to be in its usual spot over August, okay, yes, I am slightly troubled about this development.

Tickets for over 170 shows (but less than 180 shows, I’m guessing) are now available from the Fringe website. These can be In-person or online shows, the online shows may be scheduled or on-demand, or a show may be a mixture of the aforementioned. At quick glance it seems that if a show is both in-person and scheduled online it’s listed twice, this could take some time!!

One show that I spotted is back is that bloke atop Arthur’s Seat! Oh yay, Barry Ferns is going to back on Arthur’s Seat at one in the afternoon from 7th to 28th August, oh, with Wednesdays off and as long as his knees hold out. What with the Ferns’ return and all these outdoor stages, better pray to all the gods for a dry month!

Damned statistics!!

Pardon me for not blogging recently and now I’m back just to have a rant! I have this particular rant every year around this time, every year? I hear you ask, yes indeed, let me tell you all about it, you might want to make yourself a cup of tea first…….

Ready? Then I’ll begin. Edinburgh Fringe 2018 put a post on Facebook to announce another record breaking year with ticket sales up 5% on last year. But Brucie, surely that’s good, isn’t it? Ah, but, dear friends, that statistic doesn’t really mean much on it’s own. The next statistic was just laughable, that ticket sales were up “a whooping 52% on the 2009 figures”, I should bloody hope so considering how much bigger the Fringe is now!

They also attached an article from The Scotsman about the latest statistics from the International, Book and Fringe Festivals, which was a bit more illuminating as it pointed out that in 2017 there were 53,232 performances of 3,398 shows compared with 56,796 performances of 3,548 shows this year. Hmmm, so that 5% increase in ticket sales isn’t a big deal considering the increase in tickets on sale, was it even enough for audience percentages to remain the same?

Oo, I was going to mention that the Pleasance audience figures were up this year, but on reading and re-reading and re-re-reading that part of the article again I rather think that bit is somewhat ambiguous (at least I don’t think it’s very clear). I think they are up, but not as much as I thought on first reading. Hurrah for the spokesman for Space UK, he said attendances were up 11% and they had a 20% increase in sold out performances. At least that does mean more bums on seats.

See, that’s my point! A 5% increase in ticket sales doesn’t mean diddlysquat on it’s own. So there was 5% more bums on seats, but if the overall number of seats for bums to sit on (ie, the number of seats available for every performance of every show) has also increased by 5% then there’s no real increase at all and a 6% increase in seats would mean audience numbers are down – audience statistics would be a far better way of judging whether the Fringe was more successful than previously.

Also, might one enquire how many tickets were sold at the Half Price Hut? After all, every ticket sold there is kind of like half a ticket, and let’s not forget the Friends of the Fringe 2 for 1 tickets, again they’re like half tickets too. They might make a company feel better seeing more faces but if all the tickets sold were at half price, how much of a comfort is that?

As a punter I love the Half Price Hut, it is a necessity with the Fringe having become so huge to help some shows get folk in, I check it most days hoping one of my possibles comes up. On the other hand, there wouldn’t be such a need for it if the Fringe had a slightly smaller huge choice of shows. Ok, so no one outside of the big acts makes any money, but if a show with tickets priced at £8 only manages to sell tickets at £4 it’s not doing well at all, surely?

Now I’m feeling despondent for all the little shows trying desperately not to sink beneath the waves of the great ocean that is Fringe. I do love the Fringe but sometimes I wonder where it’s going.

Nighty night  x