Aug 10, 2007

Living on the Fringe

Desperate for a culture binge before I drown in balance sheets and the intricacies of corporate ethics, here I am at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, living it up... at least until my loan officer has me arrested. And you privileged few will have the benefit of reading my daily reviews of all the shows I see. Let's get started...

Shakespeare for Breakfast: First up, Shakespeare for Breakfast, complete with free coffee and completely inedible croissant. A quirky comedy involving a selection of Shakespeare characters lost in the woods on their way to a movie premiere, it was a little like the Bard on magic mushrooms, with a liberal sprinkling of Harry Potter and Big Brother references. While I must admit I didn't quite catch every one of the jokes (heavy Scottish brogue doesn't help), it was a very funny way to start the day. The two girls who played Juliet's Nurse and Cleopatra were particularly good.

State of Matter: This was amazing. Performed by all-male 2Faced Dance company, the show ranged from ballet to break-dancing with some seriously nifty acrobatics thrown in (accompanied by a music track as eclectic as the dance styles). Being an amateur production, there was the odd timing error, but overall this production was moving, brilliantly original and just plain cool (and the audience went crazy for it). Definitely a serious contender for the little known but highly prestigious "Res Ipsa's Favourite Show" award.

Isy Suttie: The Fringe is the world capital of stand-up comedy, so I figured it was now time to see some. Turns out I didn't choose very well, and while a few of Isy's lines were smile-worthy, most of her stand-up musical routine was rather painful. In her defense, I should mention that the rest of the audience seemed to enjoy it, so maybe it's just me.

Tony! The Blair Musical: My spirits were much lifted by my next choice, one of two Blair-inspired musicals at the Fringe this year. I don't know what the other one is like, but Tony! was a blast. Performed by a group of students who couldn't possibly be old enough to actually remember anything of Blair's 1997 electoral victory, the show featured some great one-liners, impressive acting (the guy playing the PM should consider a career as a Blair impersonator), very adequate singing and some inspired appearances by Diana's ghost, George Bush, and former Tory leaders singing barbershop quartet. The Res Ipsa award might be a close call...

Chris McCausland: Although a bit worn out from my show-filled day, I joined the hostel's pub crawl, which included a stop at a free stand-up comedy show. The pub crawl was rubbish, but the show was much better that the one I'd paid for in the afternoon. Self-proclaimed "only blind comedian in Britain", Chris had me in stitches, and I don't think it was just the beers.

I'm going to try for a slightly more quiet day today (only 2 or 3 shows, I think). I've spent the morning soaking up the Fringe atmosphere on the Royal Mile, where performers promote their shows with singing, a little improv comedy, and lots of gratuitous juggling. All good fun. Now if only the sun would show...

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