Aug 12, 2007

The Fringe of Reason

Lots more shows for me to review here, so let's "get stuck in", as the Fringe motto goes...

Breaker Morant: BM is a play about the court martial of an Australian soldier in South Africa during the Boer War, a sort of "A Few Good Men" for the Commonwealth. The acting was superb and the lawyer in me always enjoys a good courtroom drama, but I couldn't help feeling rather bored. Perhaps it's because I've seen so many original, quirky performances here that a traditional play just didn't seem quite right.

Failed States: With only 10 minutes rest between shows, I worried I might not be able to properly enjoy Failed States. I needn't have. A Kafka-inspired socio-political musical satire set at the time of the July 7th London bombings, this was an incredible performance. The lead (a Tom Hanks look-a-like) was amazing, the singing worthy of Broadway, and the story poignantly relevant. The overall effect was like getting slapped in the face and realizing it was just what you needed.

Stuart Goldsmith & Jimmy McGhie: On a whim, after a great catch-up dinner with a university friend, I decided to end the evening with this double-act stand-up comedy. Held in a room considerably hotter than the Nevada desert at high noon, the comedians more than made up for the discomfort by being very funny. The first was perhaps a bit funnier than the second, but that may be simply because his jokes seemed to be aimed directly at the specific market of people born precisely the same year as me. Good stuff.

On my way back to the hostel, I stopped off for a quick drink at the pub, decided to stay to listen to the live music (there is live music everywhere during the festival), and ended up busking (badly) with a Scottish and an Irish guy. But that, as they say, is a story for another day...

Out of the Blue: Wow. This show, by Oxford University's male a cappella group, managed to put me in a good mood despite the torrential rain that beat down on Edinburgh on Saturday. It really put the whole American Idol thing in perspective; here are the guys with real talent. The performance (covering pop-rock history from the Rolling Stones to Green Day, from Michael Jackson to Green Day) was flawless and funny. Their rendition of "Mustang Sally", with audience participation, was a big crowd-pleaser, and the "Fat Bottomed Girls" finale absolute genius. I am seriously considering getting these guys to come perform at a future INSEAD party.

Game?: Blatantly copying from Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf", this is definitely the most experimental piece of theatre I've seen here, or anywhere, really. Decidedly odd, and not a little bit disturbing, I can see why it has gotten some good reviews. But frankly, I just don't think I "got" it. One thing I can say for sure, is that that I'll never be able to eat a marshmallow ever again.

Aeneas Faversham Returns: Needing some light humour to get me over "Game?", I popped in to see AFR, which was not so much a play as a collection of sketches. Sort of like Monty Python's Flying Circus, but set in Victorian England. While the quality was a tad uneven, a few of the sketches were dead funny and did the trick, hopefully dispelling any lingering marshmallow nightmares.

Eurobeat: After an interesting chat with my new hostel dorm-mate (who's writing a book about his adventures hitchhiking through Britain), I set of for the much-hyped Eurobeat, a spoof of the infamous Eurovision song contest. Relative to other Fringe shows, this was a Hollywood big-budget production, with hundreds of people in the audience, a real set and snazzy costumes. Everybody really got into the spirit of things, cheering their allotted country (I was Iceland), waving flags, agitating plastic clappers and voting by text for their favourite songs. It truly was just like the Eurovision, with one notable distinction: these people could actually sing.

On my last day now, and frankly I'm a bit "showed out". The sun is shining on Edinburgh today, so it's a perfect opportunity to stroll through the cobbled streets and soak up the atmosphere... and catch a couple more shows, of course.

1 comment:

DTLF said...

I had to look up "busking." I'm very intrigued and expect to see the pictures.