What Are You Most Looking Forward To At The Fringe?
Posted 29 July 2011 - 11:10 PM
My Time Out Guide has come and my plans have begun in earnest.
As far as sustenance goes I will be looking for veggie delights.
We will be travelling up by Megabus ( £8 each way !!!) and staying in a B & B in Tollcross.
Have gone through the listings studiously and dog eared the pages and highlighted all the shows that have jumped out at me- so far an eclectic mix of dance, comedy, plays and musical theatre.
So far have prebooked Hitler! - the Musical and Flawless- and debating whether to prebook the others on my shortlist or wait till the first reviews come out in the first few days or be tempted by the tasters in the streets
Apart from Flawless am deliberately trying to avoid well known artists as I want to support newcomers and graduates etc.
On the comedy front I am looking for parodies and satire - on the dance front- a fusion of ballet, musical theatre and streetdance so tempted by Rock the Ballet.
Unfortunately a lot of my favourites clash at the same time of day- and in the absence of being able to clone myself- I will have to make choices. I want to allow time to just mooch and be spontaaneous too.
I am still not sure whether to play safe with favourite musicals e.g Last 5 Years, Pippin, Music of Les Mis or go with something new like Lillia or My Big Gay Italian Wedding.
If I get too exhausted I will opt for early evening cabaret e.g Not So far to Reach- a piano-vocal show or if I have lots of energy will stay up up for something like Let's Do It! both at the Gryphon Venues at the Point Hotel- which looks in easy reach of my B & B.
Not sure if I will bother with the stand up comedy shows as I assume ( maybe wrongly) that they will be fairly predictable in content
I've always gotten along with cats
Posted 01 August 2011 - 02:09 AM
Not sure if I will bother with the stand up comedy shows as I assume ( maybe wrongly) that they will be fairly predictable in content
If people say someone is amazing, then do try them out. Greg Davies' and Des Bishop's shows last year were certainly non-standard!
Posted 02 August 2011 - 12:01 PM
I work for the press office at the Underbelly so obviously I would highly recommend our whole programme (on the website) but here's a cross section of some of our theatre highlights.
The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Micro-epic puppet show about a journey to the centre of the earth after society has crumbled and the world as we know it has ended. A touching tale with stunning visual effects which the New York Times compared to 'a theatrical 'Wall-E''.
Bluebeard: A fairytale for adults: A slick, sexy and darkly comic retelling of the Charles Perrault's French folktale about a violent noblemen in the habit of murdering his wives. A reinvention of a classic for the 21st century.
The World Holds Everyone apart, apart from us: Award winner Stuart Bowden's one man show about a spaceman on a lonely mission who contemplates his own isolation as well as the planet he left behind. Beautiful lyrical theatre accompanied by equally moving original music.
The Lounge Room Confabulators: Award winning:a mixture of darkly comic short stories accompanied by a haunting yet uplifting soundtrack. Performed to near perfection by two instantly lkeable characters, one of the most original shows at the Fringe This year.
You wouldn't know him, he lives in Texas: A story of a long distance relationship undertaken and partically performed over Skype: a world first.
I have concentrated mostly on our own productions here but we have many more excellent theatre pieces over our venues have many more excellent theatre pieces. Any reviewers or features writers feel free to get in touch with ticket/interview/information requests.
Posted 07 August 2011 - 09:44 AM
Other than that and the list of would love to see that I made on Crunchy Frog Collective's forum (http://bit.ly/onSOog) about improv shows in the fringe this year, I guess it would be cool to see some clown shows. Bepo and co. The Games by Spike Theatre. Jack Mink: Making Light. Just Good Friends. and a few others look good too.
Posted 07 August 2011 - 09:42 PM
The Zoo Roxy venue - 12.30pm.
Posted 11 August 2011 - 11:22 PM
Had a fantastic time in Edinburgh - seeing some random things nearer the beginning, but going more and more by recommendations of people in queues and reviews as the days went by.
Here is my long list of what I saw in the first two days. I'll finish the rundown of days three and four tomorrow, when I'm slightly less exhausted.
Superbard and the Sexy Quantum Stories
Interesting and innovative futuristic storytelling, about the alternative choices a man could make. Perhaps would have been a bit more emotionally involving if there had been more of an exploration of the relationship between the main man and the main woman, why they got together, and why they split. But amusing and nicely performed.
Did he have a projector? Yes, with very well crafted videos and excellent interaction between the performer and what was on the screen.
At The Sans Hotel
Oh dear. I was attracted by the amazing Australian reviews in the Fringe programme about the actress - "I could watch her shell peas". Unfortunately, I would have preferred to watch the pea-shelling. Was some sort of anti-theatrical explanation of a play about a German woman getting lost in the desert... narrated by a French woman... who turned out to be Australian. Or something. It made no sense, and within five minutes you could start to hear the tipping sound of seats being vacated. There was no hotel discernible, nor was there any sans, comic or otherwise. The most entertaining part was trying to work out whether the techie, who kept crossing the stage and shifting bits of set, was male or female.
Did she have a projector? Yes, with some images on it. Their connection to the script never clear.
Two man (and one actor) sketch show. Rather amusing. Nice audience interaction.
Did they have a projector? Yes. Powerpoint this time, and rather well used in a conference skit.
Gags, Songs and Bombs
As this was the very first flyer I got given to me, I went. Three standups with short sets, and a compere (not the usual one, apparently). Above average for free comedy, especially the last bloke Gary Tro.
Did they have a projector? No.
The Late Show at the Underbelly
Probably the best stand up compilation show I saw. Included Joe Bor, Andrew Maxwell, and the bloke with the funny instrument Gareth Richards. I think there was one more... things were getting a bit hazy by then...
Did they have a projector? No. Not really needed for bunker-set stand up.
Grisly Tales of Tumblewater
Up bright and early the next day, for 2pm. Excellent and gripping tale of an orphaned medical student coming to a town where it always rains (ha!) and the people he meets, and getting on the wrong side of the town's chief citizen... and a witch and a monster. I agree with the Scotsman review, although it deserves at least an extra star! Especially suitable for children that can take an occasional gory story - they really were gasping at the climax! Very sustained and well deserved applause at the end - and actor Ed Jaspers finally came back for a second bow.
Did he have a projector? No, the projector of my imagination was all that was needed.
Max and Ivan are Holmes and Watson
Wonderful, lively and hilarious two-man spoof take on an imaginary 1920s Sherlock Holmes story. The four character stand-off with the two performers was absolutely hysterical. So well-performed and staged.
Did they have a projector? Nah. And they bloody well didn't need one, either.
Delete the Banjax
Sketch show, called Pigs And Ponies. No pigs or ponies. But pretty funny.
Did they have a projector? Yes, and look out for the timings on the entrances before the show!
Another sketch show, and perhaps I was a bit tired by then, as it didn't seem quite as good as some of the others in the audience found it. It was OK. I liked the Oliver! summary. One thing, though: these young comedy performers had unironed shirts. It really grated for some reason.
Did they have a projector? No, but they kept their props in baskets.
Untitled show I only went to because of the nudity
Ahem. Did what it said on the tin.
Did they have a projector? Not that I could see. But I wasn't looking for projection.
Michael Workman - Humans Are Beautiful
Lovely. Beguiling, philosophical and somewhat existential stand-up about the relationship between our narrator, a very honest dog and a woman who dug graves for fun. Had a really unique rapport with the audience, and if you're looking for stand up that's out of the norm, but still funny and yet thought-provoking and poignant, this is the one. It was in the hottest venue I went to, though, so be prepared.
Did he have a projector? No, but he did have some boards on an easel. Workman has dyed his hair since his self-portraits, though.
Hugely entertaining, and knowingly shambolic, version of the popular teatime numbers and letters game. Dan Atkinson and Paul Sinha great, with the latter being astonishingly rude yet devastatingly funny about another comedian. An audience member got a nine letter word! And I managed to confirm with my brother (with his medical dictionary to hand back in London) that quinsy is a word - a tonsill infection - when no one else believed Paul Sinha. I also can't believe I didn't get the "tea time teaser" when it was actually the name of the venue I was directing a show in two years ago.
Did they have a projector? No, but they did have letters and numbers and a human clock.
Posted 14 August 2011 - 10:03 PM
Wonderfully uplifting, moving and winningly-performed verse monologue. Richard Fry writes and performs, and all he needs is a chair, a newspaper and a book of verse to which he occasionally refers to produce a powerful theatrical experience. The first of the three shows that made me cry at the Fringe. We start off at a memorial service, but then we are switched to hear that the person who died survived, and are told about the things he achieved during his life to come - and if you don't get at least misty-eyed at the end, you should probably check your pulse. The show most likely to make you want to change your life. This was recommended by the woman in the queue for At The Sans Hotel on the first day, and I assure you, that woman has taste!
Did he have a projector? No - the message was very powerfully delivered without visual aid.
Only left 10 minutes for a dash from the Gilded Balloon Teviot to C Venues third floor. Was my swiftest transfer between venues. I went to support my old school's updated retelling of the ancient Greek myth. I'm not sure that the 17 and 18-year olds' ideas of what life is like as a twenty something professional in London is all that accurate (and if someone is a vain man obsessed by fashion, surely he would iron his shirt!), but the Hades scenes were well imagined and portrayed.
Did they have a projector? Actually, they had two.
Gentlemen of Leisure - Death of the Novel
Another two-man sketch show, giving us a highly entertaining gallop through the history of the (dead or otherwise) novel.
Did they have a projector? Yes. And very funny it was too. "Can you read?" being a question on novels in the survey for some poor unfortunate in the front row (me).
Who Is Jean Go The Distance
Three person free sketch show. Was disappointed.
Did they have a projector? Yes, but it only had about three images on it.
A Clockwork Orange
Superbly realised adaptation of the novel. As scary, moving and satirical as you could ever want it - and painfully prescient given the events in my home town the day before. Excellently choreographed physical sections, with so many great performances going on all the time.
Did they have a projector? No, my droogs, we had a sinny in the Gulliver, using our razooks for the ultraviolence.
John Lynn Social Notworking
Laid-back Irish stand up. Didn't particularly grab me, I'm afraid.
Did he have a projector? No.
Men of War
Probably my favourite sketch show in seven years of Fringe-going. Very funny material performed by a top-notch cast of comic actors. Some might say it was more "traditional" than a lot of other sketch shows, but for some reason it was exactly up my street for my sense of humour (and Superbard from day 1 was there too, and loved it). Highlights for me included the train announcement sketch, and the realisation of a new ITV crime drama. AND THEY HAD IRONED SHIRTS!
Did they have a projector? No.
Federer Versus Murray
Touching, and occasionally very funny, play about a couple whose marriage has disintegrated after a tragedy - the disagreements coming to a head during the titular tennis clash on TV. Very well performed, and written by star Gerda Stevenson. I cried for the second time at the Fringe, and contrary to the review in Fest, that final scene is very much needed. Coveney was a bit stingy with the stars too in the Independent. Unfortunately at our performance the ending was somewhat marred by that bloody Vivaldi ringtone going off twice. But a very lovely time in the theatre. This was the second recommendation of the woman in the queue on the first day - I wish I knew who she was, as I'd like to thank her for directing me towards two terrific shows.
Did they have a projector? No, but there was some nifty saxophone playing.
King of Scotland
One man show about a Scottish ne'er-do-well getting a job at a devolved ministry, and his over-ambitious relationships thereafter. Wasn't quite as taken by it as the WOS review.
Did he have a projector? No.
Tom Bell Begins
Very funny comedy - Tom Bell (him from the Norwegian pizza advert) imagining his life is subject to a Hollywood reboot. Some of the "found items" are very funny.
Did he have a projector? Yes, despite some technical problems. Videos, maps, images and... "love it!"
The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik
In the future, rising sea levels mean that the population can only survive on the very highest buildings and mountains - so it needs one brave, widowed explorer to go to the depths of the sea to find new land and save humanity... And it was a wonderfully imaginative, absorbing and moving show (and has been selling out each day). The performer uses some everyday objects to portray the things our hero meets on his journey (the show has a more magical plastic bag moment than American Beauty), but the the show is so absorbing, you really don't stop to think about what these objects actually are in real life, and that's the beguiling theatrical magic of it. And it's absolutely suitable for all ages too. Think Up meets Wall-E. Was the third time I cried at a show at the Fringe.
Did he have a projector? Yes! And how! The evocative round translucent screen was full of charming animations, integrating with the physical objects and occasional mandolin.
Chris Martin (No Not That One)
Excellent stand up, about the joys of not being alone. Really funny and charming presence.
Did he have a projector? No.
Marcel Lucont Etc
The Frenchman with a chat show (that's not a show about French cats). Perhaps the sound system wasn't quite being that clear, but I didn't find him quite as funny as I had during Comedy Countdown. Guests were a pregnant female comic, whose name escapes me, and Simon Munnery. Munnery, strangely enough, was better at the staring contest without glasses than with.
Did he have a projector? No. Just beaucoup d'Absinthe.
Improvised comedy musical, and has been a favourite of mine for several years. No exception on Wednesday night, as we had the dinosaur-based "Veloci-Rapture", complete with Dolly Parton and Dreamgirls numbers (the latter being a highlight) and the defeat of the raptors using giant pencils from the gift-shop.
Did they have a projector? No, just a blackboard for recording the audience's "inspirations".
Late and Live
And the mammoth late-night Gilded Balloon comedy and live music show. Can sometimes get a little bad-tempered. I liked the short/hairy compere (sorry for forgetting names, it was getting rather late and I was a little, er, tired by then), and the laid-back Canadian. A big shout out to Dead Cat Bounce as the band too! An excellent set of covers.
Did they have a projector? Yes, although once the introductory video had been played (including footage of the destruction of the 2003 Metro cow - I was there that night!), it just had "Late and Live" projected onto the screen.
So that was it: the top shows with the Michael H seal of approval to spend your money on are Grisly Tales, Max and Ivan, Michael Workman, Ballad of the Unbeatable Hearts, Gentlemen of Leisure, A Clockwork Orange, Men Of War, Federer Versus Murray , The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik and Chris Martin, plus Showstoppers if you've never seen them before. The very pinnacle alternates between A Clockwork Orange and Alvin Sputnik.
Also, I highly recommend a visit to the newly-refurbished National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street - and find the lift to the roof terrace for a spectacular view!
Oh, and one more edit: if you have a hangover, try not to end up next to the Korean drummers' promotion for their show. Ouch!
Posted 14 August 2011 - 10:49 PM
Sadly my reviews from my three-day trip to Edinburgh aren't as extensive as I had hoped purely for the reason that I was thwarted from attending more shows mostly because of accessibility issues but also due to clashes and lack of time. So this will be more of a blog.
At Victoria Coach station I found the mobility lounge, which I had unnecessarily prebooked- as there were plenty of seats available. Basically it was just a waiting room with ordinary waiting room style seats and a Radar key toilet and a reception desk.
It was situated at the opposite end to the Megabus gate so it didn't prove that useful .The Megabus staff kindly let my sister fold and store her little pavement scooter first and recommended our seats. They reclined a bit but sadly I only was able to cat nap overnight in between the three comfort stops at services. (The on board loo was tiny, down several steps and had no soap.)
Round the corner from St Andrews Square bus Station in Edinburgh at 7.30am, we found our bus stop but there were 3 steps down so my sister had to go back along the pavement, down the dropped kerb and then scoot along the road to get to the bus. The horrible driver refused to let her on- but after a heated discussion he reluctantly lowered the ramp, but drove off before waiting for her to park the scooter and sit down so she got her first of many Scottish bus bruises.
Scottish buses don't have electronic displays to announce the next stops so you have to rely on the bus drivers being able and willing to remember everyone's destination.
We put the scooter on charge at the B & B (an oasis of warmth and Christian hospitality) and after breakfast, ventured out again on another bus to the Royal Mile this time with a walking stick.
I collected our prebooked tickets from the Fringe shop and started chatting to all the peeps promoting their shows with flyers. None of them knew whether their venues were accessible or not- it hadn't occurred to them to notice- so it was up to me to ring the access line or venue itself to check. So my first experience of making choices based on the street promotions was disappointing, for, as luck would have it ,everything they tempted me with was inaccessible!
A trip to the bus information centre confirmed that small scooters are in fact allowed on the buses and we bought scratch card travel passes for £3.20 a day. (English disabled bus passes not valid)
Another bus ride took us near Bread Street and after a tasty Chinese lunch we went across to the fully accessible Point Hotel venue. The Gryphon staff were great and reserved front row seats so we didn't have to queue (which started half an hour before!)
Hitler the Musical
Amazingly enjoyable show considering the subject (lesser known "facts" about Hitler's life) and if the talented graduates don't get snapped up by agents/ creatives etc it will be a travesty of justice. The whole show (lyrics, music and choreography) was devised and created by the brand new graduates and their dedication, energy and commitment to their craft shines through. They cannily played the Edinburgh fringe game and chose the controversial topic in order to showcase their talents and hopefully launch their careers - and I for one forgive them for it. Their vocal harmonies were a delight to listen to and this is a better show than I have seen performed by long standing professional peformers and composers.
This was a good show at the Pleasance Courtyard-and the staff really helpful- but the audience participation part in the show to allow a costume change was too long. I think we would perhaps have appreciated their great choreography better if seated a bit further back. Overall it was fun and –refreshingly unusual for Edinburgh- a family show without any swearing or lewdness.
This was a spontaneous choice based solely for my part on the hunky male promoters in soldiers uniform and to shelter from the relentless rain-in an actual mess tent in the gardens outside the Assembly at George Square -but the 15 minute act was disappointingly a female circus performer with hula hoops, albeit a very acommplished one. The seats were benches but a kind "soldier" brought a fold up chair.
Baby Wants Candy
I bought tickets for these earlier in the day from the Half Price ticket booth on the Mound based on word of mouth and because I am a fan of Showstopper the Musical.
Unlike SSTM however their American counterparts BWC improvise based on a title alone (SSTM use genres and composers too) and I had the sneaky suspicion that the suggestion they took was from a fellow American stooge i.e. Amish girls go wild. My cynicism clouded my enjoyment a bit but they still displayed their skilful teamwork and non-verbal communication skills to deliver some really funny moments. The many American references were lost on us though. As it was Edinburgh we got the obligatory crude and offensive touches but overall I was impressed- but my loyalty remains with Show Stoppers who take more audience suggestions and undoubtedly have better singing voices and can parody more titles. As they have taken suggestions from my family in the past I also know for sure that they don't totally rely on stooges- if at all.
Fully charged we braved the buses again with the scooter and headed to Chambers Street. I had already checked it had lifts but when we got there only one person knew how to work it so this delayed us and we only just made it.
Show Choir the Musical
As a Gleek I had been keen to see this. The parody of the non-principals was my favourite moment. The plot involved starting a Glee club from scratch so we wouldnt have heard their true voices (I didn't get to see them again in Sunday in the Park)
Trying to exit the venue was even more difficult than entering as the staff were too busy to find someone who could work the two separate lifts. We were left with the impression that we were a nuisance to them.
West End Craft Fair
This was an unexpected find on the terracing of St Johns Church. It wasn't fully accessible so there was yet another delay, as we were dependent on finding someone to lift the scooter up a large step. Lunch was delicious in Hendersons Vegeatrain reataurabnt in the church crypt. (pricey at £6.15) Loo was up a few steps.
We scooted along Princes Street taking in the beautiful views of the castle.
At the foot of the Mound faced with the steep climb/battery life we rang the Assembly Hall to check which bus would be best to access the building. We were advised to get off at the next stop and go to the main entrance and although it had a few steps, they assured us staff would help. At the entrance the stafff could not help at all as it was a huge staircase so directed us to the Royal Mile entrance instead. This ate into our precious time so we had to sacrifice having a rest and relaxing coffee.
It was impossible to find the disabled entrance and we ended up at the castle. The staff there thought they knew the entrance and directed us back to the main one via a different route. I had the sense to ignore them and instead a Good Samaritan in the Camera Obscura personally showed us the way. It was a small, unmarked wooden door that you had to knock to gain entry.
Rock the Ballet
I can't do this justice in words- it was the embodiment of physical perfection- in terms of their toned physiques and their dance abilities. Their choreography seamlessly matched the rythms and beat (and lyrics at times) of Michael Jackson and Queen. Inevitably there were a few provocative Edinburgh moments- (which I didn't mind – probably because they were gorgeous hunky men! Overall their performances were awsome and breathtaking and deserved the standing ovation that meanly only a few of us gave that night.
The evening ended badly as yet another horrible bus driver hated us and the scooter and so dumped us out into the road rather than the pavement which resulted in a dangerous and vulnerable scoot in the busy dark road in order to find a dropped kerb( which we never did so I had to risk a bad back and lift it myself)
Traumatised and exhausted by our previous day with the scooter, we took the bus and walking stick back to the West End. There was a festival of Spirituality and Peace but we just missed Laughing Yoga.
We tried a delicious Persian cup of tea in their Persian tearoom, which fortified us for the Princes St Gardens. I learnt the trick of zigzagging up slopes!
Another bus took us to the newly developed National Museum of Scotland where we could borrow a wheelchair.
Duende! (Yvonne Paterson and Andrew Robinson)
This talented duet of flamenco guitar and flute were part of the Free Fringe Live music at the museum at 12.45 each day. Their music was uplifting.
The bus outside took us back to Bread Street to see Hitler the Musical again.
Luckily we had prebooked as it is deservedly selling out everyday.
The daily rain and dampness had started to affect some of their voices a little bit but it hadn't dampened their spirits and energy and they put on another amazing performance. It was fun to spot the parodies of well-known musicals.
There are a couple of uncomfortable moments to be sure- but In retrospect I can see that they are vital to be included amongst the mocking humour as they ensure you are reminded of the atrocities and stop you feeling too sorry for their perpetrator. The show actually is really topical in this week of looting because it covers the debate of nature versus nurture. What causes evil and wickedness? Can it be partly explained as a result of social deprivation or in the case of Hitler – rejection?
( and by the way Michael H from Croydon- no projector- did have a hilarious flipchart though!)
I hope they get nominated for an award as their vocal and performing talents and achievement in creating a sellout little gem deserves recognition.
We didn't have time to see any other shows as we wanted to explore a bit more of the city including Leith (not what I had imagined it to be!) We then chilled out until the overnight Megabus. This time my chair didn't recline at all and it was on a slope with a seat belt that strangled me so I didn't sleep at at all!
But I have caught the bug and want to return.
I've always gotten along with cats
Posted 14 August 2011 - 11:54 PM
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