We have just three more days to go! Dave is fretting about his schedule (what’s new?) for Monday 25th. A lot of shows aren’t running on that far – so he has to try and make sure that the shows he has planned for that day are still going on.
I have come to the conclusion that doing the whole Fringe is like a metaphor for a marathon (or half marathon). As a (amateur) runner, I know that I can go out for a run and either give it my all in a short fast 5k, or I can settle in for a long distance event and take it at enough of a pace to do a good time but still come in at the end in reasonable condition.
I see people in audiences every night who must just be doing a couple of shows or maybe making a weekend of it (the metaphorical 5k) and they are knocking back the alcohol like the breweries are about to close, stuffing burgers and any amount of fast food down their necks; they have no real idea of how to pace themselves but by heck, they are going to have a bloody good time or have a heart attack trying.
Then there’s the seasoned Fringe goer; they are there for a week, maybe two, or maybe they are mad like us and are up for most of the month – these guys – we few; we are the marathon runners. We have one beer every other night, stick mostly to water or soft drinks and hot beverages, try to eat three meals a day and remember to include fruit (to prevent scurvy)! That way we might make it over the finish line, unfortunately with no medal to show for it. (I do have lots of free badges though!)
Anyway, this is supposed to be a diary of today’s shows; it’s two minutes short of 3 am so I’d best get on with it!
Dave the FFF (Fringe Festival Fanatic) was up at 9 am and into the Greenside on Nicolson Square for Grimms Fairy Tales by 10.20 am. He’d managed to grab pancakes with bacon and maple syrup from the Olive Tree Bistro (also in Nicolson Square) which he said were delicious! Grimms Fairy Tales was offered by students from Kent State University and included shadow puppetry. The space was far from full and Dave said it seemed to have promised much but did not deliver. 😦
Then he was off to the Pleasance Courtyard (PC) to their Beyond space for Sid’s Show at 11.30 am. This was poorly attended and Dave said not really for him.
Next up in the same space though, was the much better attended Dr Longitude’s Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie, which Dave said was excellent. It looks and sounds like a real winner so take the kids out and enjoy yourselves!
Then it had come to the nice late point (2.35 pm) when I joined Dave at the Free Fringe in Cabaret Voltaire for the lovely Nathaniel Metcalfe’s Trivial Pursuits. I’d been out for my run, (6.28 miles several times around The Meadows!) so I was feeling quite chipper, and had arrived via a bus and Piemaker on South Bridge. The lovely man behind the Piemaker counter said something about “the crusts being a bit darker than usual” on my vegan Thai veggie slice, so he gave me two for one! RESULT! I also picked up a steak bake for Dave and slipped down Blair St to find him waiting downstairs ready for Nathaniel’s show to be called in.
Nathaniel’s show is lovely – full of funnies, story telling, mystery solving, quizzes on movie advertising media (!) and lookalikes. An excellent way to spend an hour.
After that we had another change of plan and took off back to the Greenside for The Clean (as possible) Comedy Show. This was of particular interest to us as it was advertised as being hosted by Andy Kind and Tony Vino. We had read both of Andy’s books and saw Tony not so long ago at The King’s Arms in Tamerton Foliot, Plymouth – so we were quite interested to meet Andy and reintroduce ourselves to Tony. Unfortunately Tony wasn’t there today, but we did get to meet up with Andy – who was happy to sign Dave’s record witness statement. The other comedians in the show were: Dominic Woodward (seen by us at a Chris Brooker gig down south not so long ago), Arthur Mitchell and Mike Newell. A quiet show but definitely clean!
Wendy Wason was our next act (Gilded Balloon) and she had a story to tell. Basically it’s all around her husband who fell ill whilst he, Wendy, and their three children, were on holiday in Los Angeles. It’s a story to make you sit up and take notice – meanwhile back at home there’s a British institution which is slowly being eroded and soon it will be gone and we will never get it back. What is it? Go look for yourself and help to do something about it before it’s too late!!
A return to the PC Beyond where we were to stay for the next four shows…
As soon as we got to the PC we popped to the wee bistro in the courtyard to pre-order food to be ready for exactly 7.30 pm when we were due to come out of the first show. This was News Revue 2014 – a brilliant production providing satirical social and political comedy and commentary. New lyrics to old tunes, sketches, voice overs, wicked take-offs of people such as Andy Murray, Nick Clegg, David Cameron, Susan Boyle – the list is endless. Thoroughly recommended – we both loved it!
We came out at 7.30 pm, headed into the bistro, only to find they seemed to have forgotten about our order so it wasn’t ready. We sat for another ten minutes while they sorted that out for us, then somehow managed to finish it off before queuing up for the next show which was…
Pete Firman – Trickster. Pete is a top class magician and used audience and magic to weave spells around us all. A couple of the tricks we thought we could figure out, but there were also a few that had us scratching our heads – and really – I think the point of a magic show is not to think about it too much but to just sit back and enjoy it!
Dave was starting to worry as the room was beginning to run behind time. Pete’s show hadn’t gone in till nearly ten past eight – lots of people in a show means longer queues which are slow to get into the venue – and then there are ALWAYS a few stragglers who didn’t get their beer in on time or factor in a toilet break.
The next gig used a theatre set so they took longer to get organised and the room again was a full one. This show was Dracula, done in high goth style with some great music. The show was truly excellent. A very young cast, they were all highly talented and not only acted, but sang, danced, and played instruments, while looking fantastic in appropriate costume and make-up. There were fight scenes and sword fights and several love stories. Very enjoyable – try to catch it!
By the time we went into our last show in Beyond, Late Night Gimp Fight: The Worst of Late Night Gimp Fight the room was running over by half an hour ( it was meant to start at 11 pm but by the time we were all seated and the lights went down it was 11.30 pm). Dave had been trying to get up to the Counting House for a 12.30 am performance but we just weren’t going to be able to make it. LNGF was fab sketch comedy gold, if quite rude in place. I guess if you go into something with the word Gimp in it, not once but twice, you should know what to expect, so if stage smuttiness is acceptable to you, go and see it. Personally we thought it was very good!
We’d requested easily escapable seats for a quick exit and we were off and out into the street before most of the rest of the audience had got onto their feet. Dave wanted to fit in one last show. The “Magic 300” is almost within his grasp!
So, somehow we found ourselves dancing about on chairs in the back room of the White Horse at 266 Canongate on the Royal Mile at about 1.30 am this morning. This is the sort of gig that truly encapsulates “The Spirit of the Fringe”. Danny Mullins, our troubadour, has a show there entitled Imaginary Girlfriend. He has a nice way with a guitar and a decent singing voice. There was some improv and some beat boxing. No covers here, his own compositions were melodic and with some funny/heartfelt lyrics. Danny’s mum and dad were in our merry few, plus one rather TOO merry guy who kept interrupting proceedings either by heckling or trying to sing along, but Danny seemed to know him so I didn’t feel that I could tell him to STFU (as per Annabel’s in Plymouth recently).
We got out at 2 am and as we started the hike home, amazingly a taxi miraculously appeared from nowhere and so we were magically transported up the hill past the PC and home to Minto St. Well worth the £7 (including tip!) that Dave thrust at him. We haven’t spent much on transport this Fringe so we felt it was justified – I’d probably be finishing this blog at 5 am, instead of just 4.29 am!