Despite telling everyone who would listen that I didn’t want to leave, I grudgingly boarded my train at Waverley station yesterday morning and left the city and the festival with a fistful of ticket stubs and a mind fizzing with lovely memories, after a hectic and brilliant week. When I wasn’t doing my part to look after the two New Perspectives shows on at the Fringe, I saw some brilliant theatre, music and comedy; and fell in love with the city for the umpteenth time in my life. (I’ve wanted to move to Edinburgh since I was about sixteen, and I’m still not sure why I haven’t yet).
Here are some of my festival highlights…
Festival highlights: Miscellaneous Category
The Poetry Takeaway at Bristo Square – a simple yet delightful idea. Simply order a (free!) poem on a theme of your choice and collect it later in a handy takeaway container. Every town should have one.
Festival highlights: Theatre
I don’t know if it was luck or going on good recommendations, but there was nothing I saw that didn’t have something brilliant about it. My two favourite shows were Allotment and You Wouldn’t Know Him, He Lives in Texas. The former took place on an allotment at Inverleith Park on a typical Edinburgh August evening – typical in that it encompassed beautiful blue sky and sunshine and a fairly hefty rain shower all in the space of sixty minutes. The rain didn’t come close to taking the shine off the experience of sitting and watching this superbly written and acted two hander about sibling rivalry while sipping a complimentary mug of tea and munching a scone with homemade rhubarb jam.
You Wouldn’t Know Him…. also took place away from the main cluster of Fringe venues, instead being located in a basement flat in Newtown. Upon arriving the audience were immediately cast in the roles of friends of Lizzie, who was hosting the party in order to introduce us to her long distance boyfriend Ryan who was hosting a similar party with his ‘friends’ in Austin, Texas. The two parties linked up via Skype, and the result was a blend of rehearsed narrative and interaction with and between the two transatlantic audiences. Fun, immersive, and charming.
Thirsty – Explored the relationship between women and alcohol using real stories left on a hotline set up for people to call after a few drinks. I saw a work in progress version a few months ago and it was great to see the ideas being explored then come to fruition. Funny, sad, ingenious set and gorgeous live music. I love how The Paper Birds incorporate their experience of the process of theatre-making into their shows, this was no exception as you felt and heard their resistance to tell the darker stories people told them. Despite their reluctance I thought the integration of the fun and laughter alcohol brings with the shock and poignancy of excessive drinking was handled with a delicate and intelligent touch. And the finale was just genius.
7 Day Drunk – Bryony Kimmings spent a week getting progressively drunk to see if it made her a better artist. The show is a collection of her reflections on the experience, footage taken during the week, and the art she made – all performed sober. I was worried it would be self-indulgent, but Bryony is so likeable and upfront it’s hard not be charmed. I loved her comedy songs and bonkers outfits, I questioned the ethics of some of the audience participation but the night I was there it felt like if anyone had hesitated there wouldn’t have been any pressure to take part beyond their own comfort levels
Bones – Fifth Word show about a young man in Nottingham pushed to breaking point by his harsh past and grim circumstances. Brutal, bleak and hard to watch, but a phenomenal performance by Joe Doherty. Feels full of contemporary relevance in light of the recent riots and subsequent media furore surrounding anyone who sought to understand why a generation might be growing up without hope for the future or any sense of responsibility towards their own communities.
More to come tomorrow!