Happy?!

In 2019 the loveliest man to grace a Fringe stage was back again with his new show Aidan Goatley: Happy Britain Part I, naturally I went along. Happy Britain? He told how he came up with an idea of going to the centre of every county in the UK and asking the first person he met, “What makes you happy?” Part I? Well, you know, life, best laid plans, et al, there was to be a Part II this year, and a book too! God only knows when that’s gonna happen now!! Mind you, his wife is a vicar so she could make enquiries!

The show was as good as expected – that being an engaging, charming, thoroughly entertaining hour that went by way too quickly for my liking. I could have happily sat another hour in that state of warm, fuzzy cheeriness (oh and the room did have good air conditioning – a bonus). The pic is from Mr Goatley’s bit in the Fringe programme. I think his attire may be a reference to Arthur Dent in HHGTTG, I seem to vaguely remember something, but I could have dreamt it.

Some time later I found myself musing on Aidan’s question, indeed, what made me happy, really happy? Where was my happy place? Could I answer that without resorting to flippancy? You see, though I always do my best to present myself as a jovial and happy-go-lucky chap, I am no stranger to melancholy; I knew I’d been slowly sinking into the doldrums for some time, my spark wasn’t very sparky anymore, more like an ember. Oh sure, Edinburgh in August (when there’s a Fringe on!) but what about the rest of it? I mulled over it for some time, if I could figure out the true honest answer could I use it as a compass to lead myself out of the doldrums on to firmer ground?

Actually, it’s the reason why I like the Fringe so much, it’s that blissed out fuzziness of witnessing a great feelgood show (usually accompanied by a goofy smile). It’s sitting listening to Aidan’s stories, it’s watching an hour of surreal sketches about three sperm, it’s the fun of watching a troup of actors allowing themselves to be dictated to by a roulette wheel of absurd scenarios.

And it’s being at a Logan’s Close gig, any time of the year. Oh yeah, there’s my Happy. No wonder this year’s been hard – I haven’t seen them since January! And on bands, one of my most memorable happy times was at the Fringe in 2005, late night in the Debating Hall at Teviot watching Bill Bailey’s band Beergut 100. The sheer exuberance of the band and the crowd was intoxicating, and when Kevin Eldon sang a seriously punked up The sun’ll come out tomorrow oh my heartses! The room was a big sweaty blob of happy!

As a young moose I used to daydream, as so many do, about being a great performer, acting or singing, both, I’d be amazing!! Once we get past the time of when our dreams were meant to somehow be happening (with no effort from ourselves), it’s woulda, coulda, shoulda. Then, one night, I don’t remember when, who or where, but I do remember having an epiphany, I was Audience – being a great audience is important, without an audience what is a show? I shouldn’t be looking up wishing I was the one on the stage, that’s not me; I’m the one giving my undivided attention, watching, listening, absorbing the atmosphere; I’m the one whooping and cheering and clapping, showing my appreciation to the performers.

Oo, that got a bit profound there! Thinking on it, I know it changed my perspective and my being. Would recognising my Happy bring on another change? Then 2020 came along and the whole world has been spun off kilter. Will Aidan ever get to do his Part Deux? Will hugging ever come back? There’s a great deal of Happy in hugging.

Bonne nuit, mes amis ūüíõ

Not the last night of Fringe 2020

The last night of the Fringe, the final push. No matter that so many venues have already closed a day or two earlier, it’s not over til the Pleasance and Gilded Balloon close the bars! Years ago Bud and I got serious on the importance of a great final night, no random show would be the last memory of our Fringe.

Over the years last shows included Otis Lee Crenshaw (three times), Rich Hall, Adam Hills, the Penny Dreadfuls (twice, and Humphrey Ker’s solo show), the Les Cl√∂chards, then in 2013 we met Will Seaward and a new tradition was born. Alas last year he didn’t do the final night (I know, how very dare he!!), his last night was the Sunday, what ever was I to do!? Never fear, his fellow Rouletteers were keeping on to the bitter end, and a fine job they did too. Stupendous!

Interestingly, if Covid hadn’t come along this year, I would have had to start a new game of Who’s Last? See last year was the last of Will’s Spooky Midnight Ghost Stories at the Fringe. Sure, shows, companies, faces come and go, I know that. I do hope my favourite faces make it back again or are at least still being creative wherever they may be in 2021.

Oh, and there’s been the Edinburgh International Festival Fireworks on the final Monday for the last five years. Since they moved to the final Monday I stopped going to watch them in Princes Street Gardens, instead I wander down The Mound to catch a part of it, then I’m off to Fringe again.

I shall leave you with a few pics from last nights at the Fringe…

20180827_220059Something’s afoot at the Castle

Oooo! Ahhh!20180827_220205

The dark truth of the Fringe……

20180829_220302

….sweat and tears, is what some performers take away with them after an August in Edinburgh!

 

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 Cl√∂chards,¬†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 ūüėÜ

Toodle pip!

 

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!

Oh, those Russians!

If you’ve recently checked oot my Facebook doings (I’m Bruce T Moose, being proper, like) you’ll know the world just shrank a teensy bit more, when I was accosted by a gent flyering his show which also stars our mutual friend Will Seaward! Only very a unusual, warped intellect could have devised this show, I suspect over a jar or two in some drinking establishment! Why do a straightforward play? Why not bring in the contrariness of chance to keep the actors on their toes? Improv with a difference – a roulette wheel!

Russian Roulette¬†is just that, a Russian play of chance; the first choice is between writers Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and Chekhov, twas Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina the evening I went. Some victim from the audience becomes the croupier and whenever the bell sounds (apparently set up earlier using randomly picked times) he/she spins the wheel and calls out the number. We, the audience, had numbered lists to check and yell out (well those with the eyesight to read small print in semi-darkness,¬† I’d forgotten my reading glasses), cryptic instructions like “Borscht Surprise”, “Russian Dolls” or “I’m Stuffed”. Will and his co-host would explain what each meant and the actors had to incorporate it into the play. Hence, poor Princess Kitty spent a long while unable to move as she became stuffed! “Beard Ban” was tricky for two of the cast, did I mention there were penalties for failure!?¬†This was obviously set up by some devious, dastardly mind who wouldn’t be actually caught up in this play of chance themselves! Will?!

Whilst thoroughly enjoying the fun I noticed some of the cast looked somehow familiar, I also noticed that every seat had a flyer for¬†A Midsummer Night’s Droll, yeah, I completely failed to spot the connection – I’d seen their show¬†Droll¬†last year! (another smidgeon off the earth’s girth) At the end of a very entertaining hour, everyone did the usual plugging of their other shows, only then did I twig! And, being a moose of limited means, I went off to purchase a ticket for their last ¬£10 show, at 10.05 in the morning!

If you like some fun with your Shakespeare and some top-notch comic acting to go with it, then I can’t recommend these guys highly enough. Yes, I know it breaks one of my rules, never recommend just say you liked it, but I fail to see how anyone who matches the aforementioned criteria could not love this show!!! Oh, and I noticed Princess Kitty in the audience looking charmingly unstuffed!

So that’s¬†Russian Roulette¬†at Just the Tonic: La Belle Angele¬†and¬†A Midsummer Night’s Droll¬†at¬†theSpace on the Mile. If you want to see a little culture this Fringe !¬† ūüėä ūüé≠