Spending time in Spaces

Yesterday I hit the hut, the Half Price Hut tickets, plus others just to get a good return for the overall £5 booking fee. In doing so I finally saw shows in theSpace venues, third week and I hadn’t been to any of them yet, unusual for me. I’ve noticed theSpace host a lot of small theatre companies, many that just come up for one week; so if it’s theatre at a reasonable price that you’re after, it’s a good place to check out.

TheSpace on North Bridge is on the first floor of the big hotel there, the big posh hotel, lovely staircase up, but somehow a building devoid of any, erm, emotion is not quite right, very airport lounge-y, very impersonal, a total lack of atmosphere (just my opinion, others may say differently). This does mean that the actors really need to be able to create their own atmosphere. Once Upon A Midnight Dreary certainly pile in on, a sumptuous musical play about Edgar Allan Poe, sadly it wasn’t quite to my palate. It was the Edgar Allan Poe element that attracted me (there’s always at least one production about Poe or his works at the Fringe every year). The music was very good, very fitting and the three performers all have great singing voices but the play itself just didn’t sit right with me, but any Poe fans, fans of the macabre should consider giving it go, especially if the tickets are on HPH offer.

In the evening I had back-to-back shows in Theatre 3 at theSpace @ Surgeons Hall. Be warned, Theatre 3 is a very warm room, warm enough to have your head nodding if you’ve recently had a large meal. First off, You’re Dead, Mate a dark comedy where Death has to process his latest client and send him to the Hereafter, but his client is, understandably, rather confused and disbelieving. This is the debut play of Edmund Morris with himself as Death and Harry Duff-Walker playing the recently deceased. It’s very funny and entertaining, a few poignant moments in there amid the laughs; for a first play I reckon he done good, not brilliant but sound and some great ideas. It would be interesting if Morris re-visited this in five years time, with tweaks from all his accumulated knowledge and experience this could be really something (yes, Morris has a future in theatre of that I have no doubt). ⭐⭐⭐1/2

Another young man with a bright future is Fraser Brown. After a brief step outside to gulp down some fresh, cool air it was back into Theatre 3 for It’s Fraser Brown, I’m Afraid. He comes across as a personable young chap who’s a tad anxious, or is that part of the act? No, I think his occasional apologies to his audience weren’t without basis in his true self, they may be in there as part of his routine but it would still be telling that he put them in. Brown has some wonderfully pitch-black comedy moments where a few cracked a laugh and others gasped or laughed like they shouldn’t be finding the funny. He seemed to take a while to relax into his stride, I felt he was trying to hard to be edgy, it came across just a bit uneven, disjointed; when he got in his groove he had a lighter touch and delivered the dark punches with more effect. Definitely one I’ll be keeping my eye on ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Yesterday early evening I finally indulged myself with a HPH ticket to see Blueswater Presents: Blues! The 10th Anniversary Show in the Grand Theatre at theSpace @ Surgeons Hall. I know that I shouldn’t begrudge spending a bit more to see some top class blues but I’m a terrible moose and I do. Wow, though, this is a brilliant show, it’s the last year Blueswater will do this particular show, definitely worth seeing before it finishes on Saturday if you like the blues. Worth it just for Nicole Smit coming on and performing I’d Rather Go Blind, followed by a blindingly good rendition of The Wizard by Black Sabbath!

Yes, this show takes us for the beginnings of the blues (with just Nicole Smit and Felipe Schrieburg on stage singing John the Revelator – exquisite) right up to modern day. Members of the band came and went off stage as each number required, with Nicole adding to the mix occasionally; all the various Back Up Crew were there along with some brass on the side. Just have to mention The Wizard again, I don’t usually pay much attention to drummers but I do enjoy watching Simon Gibb and he was sooo good on this; and Jed Potts and Charlie Wild going nuts on guitar, awesome (oh, Ewan on bass and the harmonica player were great too, and Felipe on vocals). I am a bit tempted to go back for the final show.

Last but not least from yesterday, not in any Space, the Gilded Balloon Wine Bar instead, was Yippee Ki Yay and if you can’t guess what this show takes its name from it’s possibly not the show for you. If, however you are a fan of Die Hard, are not averse to some verse and like a slice of silly, this could be right up your street. Richard Marsh tells two stories side by side, one Die Hard the movie, the other of our narrator’s life having fallen in love with a fellow Die Hard fan. His Hans Gruber is priceless (with plenty of little Rickman and Potterverse quips); the proposal scene to the music from The Princess Bride, such a great little detail. So glad I decided to get around to seeing this romp ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The sun has finally decided to come out – it was very gray and wet before lunchtime. Must go out and get a few rays, maybe catch another show or two. It could be a late one tonight as I believe those Scat Rats are playing Binkies in the early hours, will I make it?

Toodle pip!

Theatre Spaces

On a quick perusal of my fringe timetable theSpace@ venues have featured a lot for theatre shows I’ve seen. Over the last few years more and more small venues are becoming part of bigger companies which have also opened up more venues in central hotels. I suppose it’s no bad thing if smaller venues can benefit from the support and assistance of a larger umbrella company. Certainly theSpace@ North Bridge and Surgeon’s Hall have ticks against them in my book, Jury’s Inn has been great but it was also the venue of one of only four shows that I’ve ever walked out of in thirty years.

Space on North Bridge has now moved into the first floor of the hotel, rather more pleasant than it’s original location there. Edgartown is playing there at lunchtime. This is a fabulously macabre dark comedy with steampunk costumes and a cast who can rachet up the tension and creepiness with ease.

Space@ Surgeon’s Hall has the impressive Lord Dismiss Us by Boys Of The Empire Productions, who’s first play back in 2008 stood out from the crowd for me. A play with plenty of humour and drama brought out brilliantly by a very talented cast. And is it just me or does the English master have a slight look of Littlefinger from GoT?

Also at Surgeon’s Hall was Droll. Okay, so it was at 10 in the morning and only cost £8.50, this week it’s moved to theSpace on the Mile at 5 past 10 in the evening and costs £13, it all adds up! Whilst queuing I quickly recognised one of the actors as being previously part of Broken Holmes Productions (oo, they were always worth seeing), so that was a plus. Drolls are from when theatre was illegal in the 17th century, almost completely forgotten by history and not performed since then, until now. It certainly had a charming, devil-may-care enthusiasm which swept the audience along with it.

Now along to Sweet Grassmarket where we find Not: Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a farce done in the best possible taste! Plenty of saucy innuendos, high drama, clipped accents, manly chests and fish-net stockings, what more could a moose ask for? Certainly Happy Idiot have pulled off a triumph with this hilarious retelling, they’re on my fringe-dar now.

Crikey, it’s late now, but I do want to mention one more gem. It’s finished now but worth mentioning not only because I managed to get a ticket from the Half Price Hut, nor because of the Free G&T (that’s Edinburgh Gin and Fentiman’s Pink Grapefruit Tonic Water, devine!) but because The Gin Chronicles at Sea was yet another great romp. Done as a 1940’s radio play with four actors playing all the parts and a Foley artist (who was a joy to watch), it was a tale of intrigue and adventure with a large dose of comedy thrown in.

The venue itself, St Marks on Castle Terrace was beautiful, an old church with a three quarter balcony, a first visit for me, that’s one of the bonuses of the Fringe, we get to see inside some amazing buildings that we otherwise would never go in.