Who needs a good bear, when you have Camels?

Ok, so I mentioned in So long, farewell, ta-ra, toodle pip! three shows I’ve seen but hadn’t mentioned before, well, they’ve gone now anyway! Bloody good shows they were too!

What of all the other shows you’ve seen, Brucie, I hear you ask (mooses have very good hearing), and you said you’d tell us more about the early shows?! Yes, I know, but it’s hard in the madness that is Fringe to keep all one’s plates spinning. So I’ll press on and rundown my shows til I had to depart Edinburgh on my mission of mercy.

Preview Friday I managed six shows, yup, six, but that was from ten in the morning ’til one the following morning! The Shakespeare For Breakfast crew were on top form again!! I was surprised how many seats were left, hopefully they’re now selling out with their excellent modern twist on The Taming of The Shrew. A great start to my day!

Next up, new to me Camels, which excitingly was in part of the all-new singing, dancing underneath of McEwan Hall; very modern and entered via the blob thing in Teviot Square. Oo these chaps are good, recalling my Seeing double post from last year, this comedy duo make up for a lack of Goodbear this year! Tom Neenan’s: It’s Always Infinity was another corker from him (maybe not quite to the heights of last year’s Attenborough) it took a wee while to pull me in, but by the end, with the by-then obvious punchline in sight, the audience were all sitting cosily in the palm of Tom’s hand. What a piece of genius writing, long may he grace the Fringe with his wit and style! I did spot, though it took me a while, that the chap in the video clips was non other that David Reed from the Penny Dreadfuls (as is Thom Tuck).

Next up was a show in a big blue box, from Switzerland, umm, the humour just didn’t translate for me, and I’m going to leave that one at that. I recovered myself with a curry at the Mosque Kitchen for tea, first visit this Fringe and it won’t be the last; good, quick, tasty grub. I finished my day at the Gilded Balloon with first the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre: Superheroes, finishing with the wonderful Will Seaward now telling his ghostly tales in the Dining Room. The SFSPT:S was good but having seen plenty of trial bits previously on their Facebook page, I think some of the dumped bits were better. If you hadn’t seen them, then the show is perfectly fine with plenty of laughs and groans, and some rather obscurer fanboy jokes. Then the clock struck twelve and it was Will Time!! Nuff said really, another late hour of terrifying tales and howling horrors but in a bigger room this year!

And then it was home to bed! Well, it’s time for me to maybe venture oot into the rain. It’s been chucking down all day, hence my catching up here. Time to book a few more shows, methinks.

Toodle pip!

Croissant for brekky, soup for dinner.

So I went to Shakespeare for Breakfast and was so impressed that on my way out I bought a ticket for Dickens for Dinner! Just to clarify, it was the meal some call lunch, but that really wouldn’t have the same ring, would it? Oh, it was chicken soup with a bread roll.

Yes, S4B was excellent, worth getting up for (and I made it in time to grab a coffee at Cafe Nero). The writing was really sharp with great gags and some really good soliloquies, all performed brilliantly with great comic timing. I really liked the touch of transposing MacBeth, or MacGarry, to an allotment society takeover, double entendres almost wrote themselves. Even the song at the end was really good (it has been a weak spot sometimes). Special mentions go to Duncan King, MacGarry and Lady MacGarry (and all their other roles) for their most excellent performances.

I did have a quick scrambled eggs on toast for first dinner before I headed back out, well half past one is rather late for me. The soup wasn’t too bad, wonder what they could put on for tea?

Okay, so D4D wasn’t as good as S4B, but it was still a very jolly romp, setting A Christmas Carol in the 80s with Scrooge in the music industry, cue a game of Spot the Song Lyrics throughout the show, reckon I got most of them. Again, very funny and sharp writing.

And if you like your classics straight, the same company are performing The Tempest up at C South, that’s St Peter’s at Lutton Place, in the gardens, which I can vouch are very lovely. Now if these bloody showers would just clear up!

 

It’s the wrong order, Gromit!

So I ummed and aahed and settled on getting preview tickets for Tom Neenan: Attenborough and Shakespeare for Breakfast. I have a very finite Fringe Fund (which I diligently put money into every month) compared to a seemingly infinite number of shows I’d like to see. Previews will be the cheapest way to see them this year – I could have chanced Tom Neenan being at the Half Price Hut for a midweek performance but no, he is rather good, so preview it is.

This irks me because neither show is in the right place.  S4B should be on the Friday of the second week and Tom should be around then or the third week, but why? I hear you ask, because they should! Did you (anyone over 50) used to make compilation tapes, which though only 60 or 90 minutes in length would take at least twice as long to put together because the tracks had to be in the right order? Well, my Fringe has a right order too, or it did up until a couple of years ago when after eighteen years of fringing together, my Fringe Buddy up and left to explore pastures new.

As I mentioned in Perusing the Programme, I like to be organised, in previous years I would have tickets for shows throughout the Fringe by now, we would have booked our days off work, probably already used up half our quota of Friends of the Fringe 2 for 1 tickets. Yes, I would have organised everything with the cutouts of shows and my timetable sheet, each show in the right place, enough time in between shows, not putting all the best shows together, spreading them through as cheaply as possible. I like some order, then the spaces can be played with. Bud on the other hand was perfectly happy to merely agree on what to see, actually organising anything was not really his forte, he enjoyed the Fringe too, as long as he just had to turn up.

Now the only planning ahead I do is sorting my Previews out and the odd one or two other. I am still a Friend of the Fringe though it won’t benefit me much anymore. But why not take other friends with you? Oh, I may to a few shows, but they’re not really bothered about the Fringe, and organising others? Oofph, I was spoilt with Bud, it was easy, we both really got each other and wanted similar things. I have a pile of cutouts for shows I’m hoping will be at the Half Price Hut, a pile for Free Fringe shows and a pile of “Buy a ticket or Pay on the door.” It does have a certain thrill to it, not knowing how the next three weeks will pan out!

Hey Ho, it’s all part of life’s rich tapestry, or tapas tray, if you’re feeling peckish!

 

 

 

Shakespeare for Breakfast?

Oo yes, please! Complete with coffee and croissant! As the show starts at 10 o’clock (well, possibly by 5 past 10 by the time everyone’s squeezed in), first breakfast may have been rushed or missed altogether, so a second breakfast is quite welcome. Mind, if I have a few minutes spare I prefer to grab myself a coffee from Caffè Nero at Blackwells. The croissants are on serviettes on the seats, the folk who don’t want one generally place them on the next seat along until if you’re one of the later arrivals you’ll have to unearth the last seat on the row from the mound of croissants. TOP TIP if you’re doing the Fringe on a small budget, hang about afterwards and clear up the spare croissants, a packet of ham slices and a bit of cheese, sorted!

You may have noticed how I used the word “squeezed” earlier, I do not lie, the show is often sold out and the seats are very narrow, there is NO room for long legs, big bottoms or wide shoulders. Depending on the size of your neighbours you may find yourself sitting slightly uncomfortably  to slot in with them. Be assertive! Get yourself comfy and sit your ground (unless you’re sitting next to me!). And don’t think you can leave a crafty seat free for some breathing space, as the venue fills up everywhere is scrutinised for room, that seat will be filled!

Another TOP TIP, on your way into C+1 be sure to find yourself a sturdy flyer if you haven’t been organised enough to remember your fan! Oh yes, it’s gonna get warm, really warm, but you can at least take some comfort in the fact that you would be way hotter if the show was still in it’s original venue C+3.

By now you may be wondering if Shakespeare for Breakfast is really worth the early rise, the pain and discomfort, but yes, it is, well, most years it is (I cannot lie there has been the odd dodgy year). Indeed this is testimony to how good C Theatre are!! For myself and many others, this is one of our great Fringe traditions, this is sooo Fringe! I haven’t missed one since my first in 2002, a panto of Romeo & Juliet. “Hello Nursey, ‘ows your floury baps?” we’d all holler whenever the dame, sorry, Nurse came on.

It is a great way to start a day at the Fringe. Yes, but you haven’t said anything about the show itself, well, it’s Shakespeare with a twist. Sometimes it’s based on one of his plays, sometimes it takes characters from all over the bardverse and puts them in a modern situation. It’s Shakespeare and it’s silly and there’s always a song at the end. Nuff said.

How would you like your Shakespeare, madam?

As you can imagine there’s plenty of Shakespeare at the Fringe, in all manner of states, pruned,  punked, as panto, in the park, on bouncy castles, and occasionally the odd straight down the line, no messing, performance of the bard’s work.

Probably the first company who took pruning the Bard to a new art form were the Reduced Shakespeare Company. I never actually saw that show, but in 1996 I saw them perform The Bible: The Complete Word of God (abridged). I did see them again, no idea which show it was, I just remember a rousing song of “Everybody hates the French” which pops back in my head every year around the time of the Six Nations Rugby. Anyway, I digress…

In any year there’ll be a variety of takes on the likes of Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this year take your pick of two Comedy of Errors. One is by a “vibrant young cast (who) bring the story right up to date”, the other is “Shakespeare meets Ska, Two-tone and Rudeboy”, all sorts for everyone. Personally I reckon Mr S would have approved of these adaptations  (so long as he saw some royalties!)

I do like to try to see something of Shakespeare each year, makes me feel cultured, y’know. Besides that endeavour,  since 2002 I’ve had Shakespeare for Breakfast once each Fringe – it starts at 10 o’clock in the morning, that’s ridiculously early when I’m on a day off work. S4B are a great company and though I don’t “recommend” shows generally (more on that later), this is one show that is sooo Fringe, go see!

Well, it’s very late so I’ll say toodle-pip, more on old Shakey next time.