By Benn Cody
Day1: to say the least, Edinburgh is always a beautiful city, but the Fringe brings so much vibrancy and creativity, it truly is the only place to be in August. My first day has already left me at near burn out! Waking up at 5:30am for a train, arriving, collecting tickets and accreditation, quickly leaving things at the travelodge (which, by the way, feels like you’re climbing a mountain every morning due to a steep hill-not the best thing as you’re waking up!) and then straight into 5 shows.
Depending on your view point, this may be a lot, or not many at all-either way, I can tell you it’s tiring!
The first show was at The Traverse, recognised internationally for exceptional productions, especially in new writing. The show is called ‘Mess’. I had high expectations on this as I saw Caroline Horton’s previous (and absolutely superb) production of You’re Not Like The Other Girls Chrissie, and I was not disappointed. Dealing with a hard topic (anorexia), this beautiful and very funny piece of meta-theatre blended pathos and entertainment brilliantly well. I felt that for the first of many (31!) events this week, that I was off to a good start!
Next, I saw ‘Remy’ at Paradise in the Vault. A 30min show that was set in napoleonic times. From the reviews and copy, i was worried that it was trying to deal with a lot in such a short space of time. I was wrong. Based on a soldier regaling stories of love, childhood and warfare, and utilising benches, hay and flowers to represent characters and animals, it was a clever and enjoyable piece. In my opinion, the show needed some more development, perhaps extending the run time to offer a more easy to follow and perhaps linear narrative. Parts were hard to follow but all in all, a great first show from a brand new company from East15.
Then, a short run to Summerhall to catch Dead Memory House. I was instantly intrigued by this as the company had quite literally created an entire flat in office space and, as the show begins, you’re invited in to the beginnings of a house party. Melding site specific, promenade (to a degree) and attempts at a non-linear narrative, it was definitely an intriguing show. The design was simple and effective and complimented the piece exceptionally well. I did feel that some delivery was weak and, whilst the story had great moments and some poignancy, it didn’t feel finished. With more time to work as an ensemble and space to develop the show, it could be even better.
Finally, a brief respite over a drink in the Summerhall bar before heading to Underbelly to catch ‘Captain Ko and the Planet of Rice’. I had very high expectations knowing of the company’s (Dancing Brick) previous work, especially Pebble and Heap. Regrettably, I was sorely disappointed. A show in 3 acts that seemed disjointed and unconnected, an entire act of mime with sound effects that left audience members confused and no real hook to keep you intrigued or entertained. The leaflet given out gave brief summaries of each act but didn’t justify the piece-who was it for and what was it saying? I believe it was trying to deal with memory, but I think fell short.
Then, a quick run to a takeaway place for a burger (you learn to love fast food up here-only way you can eat in a busy schedule!), a quick drink and then off to C Nova to catch Belt Up Theatre’s ‘The Boy James’. This company are regulars at the Fringe and have toured internationally with pretty much blanket 5 star reviews so again, expectations were high. Based loosely on the creator of Peter Pan (JM Barrie), it showed the loss of innocence of children over the years and simultaneously showed Barrie giving himself up to adulthood, leaving his imagination behind. A very clever premise and delivered well. Some audience interaction felt inserted for interaction’s sake, and overall, I wasn’t wowed by the piece-sitting on the floor for an hour after being up for nearly 20hrs was tough-but I would recommend catching it as this company play with ideas and stories interestingly and do offer intriguing concepts.
Finally, it was time for bed, and a slow walk back saw me hit the hay at 1am. I’ve had a little sleep and am now up and ready for Day 2!
I have 8 events back to back today and kick off with The Golden Cowpat in 10mins, a fun family show! Until the next installment, know I’m catching DugOut Theatre, Little Angel’s newest show, The Lonely One, and Joe Black-a man you’ll all get to know over the coming months!!!