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A Trip to Edinburgh
Thursday 28th August 2015.
The plan was a simple one: see as many shows as we could before 9pm. There was no preparation – we were going to see the first show that was flyered in our direction. Just outside Waverley railway station was Angie Belcher whose show Mythical Creature was going to start in 10 minutes. Finding the Electric Circus was not an issue as it is tucked into the side of the railway station. Finding the Lizard Lounge within was more fun. After discovering a cleaning cupboard we eventually pushed on the magical orange door which led to a small room with five comfy sofas. We were on our own and we feared the worse but soon the room soon filled up.
Angie Belcher was able to tie up a conversational style of stand up comedy with her sharp observational poetry. We were given a range of topics from a love of cider, turning 50 to shopping at Aldi. Unlike the poetry I had to study at school all of those years ago, this was material I could relate to such as the holiday photos when I was a child and the dreadful shots taken at school which still adorn my parents wall. Angie was a perfect start to our festival experience and we hope to be able to see her again.
As we left the venue we picked up a handy PBH Free Fringe brochure and we headed to Cabaret Voltaire via some of the free entertainment on the Royal Mile. The party atmosphere was intoxicating but you couldn’t move more than a few metres before a flier was thrust in your direction.
The Cabaret Voltaire served coffee but had no sugar. That small obstacle aside, it is a great venue which has a number of rooms in its basement. Dan Mitchell must have been, literally, in the coolest venue on the fringe as the air con was working overtime. Plate Expectations is a great set from a smooth operator. Dan has a warm friendly demeanour that reminded me of Dave Allen. The humour fed the audience rather than attack them. Indeed the Tunnocks and brownies were on offer to some participants. The show started by dipping into the joys of language, in particular Dan’s native Welsh. Is the Welsh translation of Jellyfish really Cont y Mor? The show moved onto Ainsley Harriott’s suggestion that there is nothing worse than wet watercress via the audiences suggestion for the greatest Sunday dinner. The really funny hour long set flew by.
We moved onto Cowgate and we accosted by a young flyerer who was determined to see that we join the long queue to get in the Sin venue for Javier Jarquin’s Card Ninja show. In an exhibition on extreme card manipulation we were treated to the trails of ninja. The audience participation worked well and added to the shows dynamics. It may not have been a magic card show, it was much better than that.
Next up was Phil Jupitus is Porky The Poet in Apologist Now at the Liquid Room Annexe. Phil is a wonderful force when they put a microphone in front of him. There is something about his voice which is very pleasurable and one wishes that he was still presenting the 6Music Breakfast Show. Phil is not ashamed about his left wing sensibilities as he explores topics as diverse as Blair, Boris and Farage in his poetry. He reveals how he feels about family from his estranged Irish Dad to his daughter putting up with the weekend rabble as she studies in Amsterdam. Most memorable was his extensive work about his first gig when he saw Blondie and to the 10 line poems using Fringe show titles. The sharp wit and repartee made for an absorbing show.
The final show for us was back at Cabaret Voltaire. Orlando Baxter is an experienced teacher from the US and his show Glorified Babysitter explored the crazy events that teachers face. It is no surprise that kids in the US are similar to those in the UK with their “unique” issues and behaviours. The stand up routine included kids who get thrown out of class because they’re in pyjamas or because they keep making cat noises. Fire alarms and splitting up fights happen in the UK, perhaps lock downs (if a gun man, for example, attacks) are not. Next time you hear a teacher ask “what do you think?” you’ll know it is code for “I don’t actually know the answer.” Orlando is a personable chap and it is clear how his people skills will have worked well in the classroom. Glorified Babysitter is a distinctive comedy show that’s full of laughs.
We had succeeded in seeing five great shows in just a single day’s visit. As a family taster of Fringe, it only whetted our appetite to do more fringe shows next year if we can find some suitably priced accommodation. To those who put on the other 3309 shows (weblink to EdFringe news story) that we didn’t see then we can only apologise for missing you out and encourage you to visit the North East soon so we can see you in action. Drop us a line and we’ll do a preview/review of your show.
This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR (www.jowheretogo.com ). Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook www.facebook.com/Jowheretogo