This year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival is comprised of the usual mix of stand-up, comedy reviews, small theatre productions, randoms on The Royal Mile, well kent faces aff the telly, and complete unknowns. There is tons of stuff to consider, and who has the time to work out what has promise against what is clearly pish? Well, I do, so you don’t have to.
Actually, I’ve found it is rare to see a real stinker in Edinburgh if you take a bit of care. For most of the performers Edinburgh is the place where they aim to peak, and they have been rehearsing the life out of their shows. And most are only an hour long, so if you have made a mistake, you can just move on to the next one. My Edinburgh glass is always half full.
One play that I know has been worked hard is Alan Bissett’s one man, multiple spider, show The Red Hourglass which is on at the National Library of Scotland on George IV Bridge on the 15th-25th (excluding the17th). I have seen a preview of this play and it is a physical tour de force. If you are in the slightest arachnophobic then The Red Hourglass will either cure you or kill you as Bissett brings distinct individual persona’s to his creepy characters. The man does scarily good scuttle, and after the success of The Moira Monologues he once more shows he is entirely comfortable with this feminine side(s). I highly recommend it.
The Red Hourglass is directed by Sacha Kyle, who is going to be busy as she has also directed I, Tommy. It is a play about the fall of Tommy Sheridan with Des McLean in the lead role, is written by Rab C Nesbitt writer Iain Pattison, and which also stars recent podcast guest Colin McCredie. Sheridan’s is a story which has gripped Scotland in recent years, where a man who had gained huge popularity, and political credibility, over the years went from telling us that Big Brother was watching, to having us watching him on Big Brother. But I think you would be underestimating the man if you were to suggest we have seen the last of Teflon Tommy, and it’ll be interesting to see what Pattison’s play hints at for his future. I, Tommy may have to be followed by Tommy II. It will be at The Gilded Balloon Tevoit from the 3rd.
Donna Rutherford has been performing, directing and making art which challenges audiences for a couple of decades, and she deserves to be better known. Her latest work Kin has been an ongoing project for the past couple of years and it looks at the shift in relational dynamics as children grow older, and parents older still. This is an at times moving piece of theatre, yet it is also warm and often humorous, and will stay with you longer than many shows you’ll see this year. As always, Rutherford has brought a very personal project to the stage and made it universal. If you haven’t seen Kin yet, then this is the time to do so. It is on at The Playhouse on the Fringe for most of the festival.
Another play that you’ll be able to catch up with in Edinburgh is the National Theatre of Scotland’s Appointment With The Wicker Man, which is on at The Assembly Rooms on George St. Starring TV’s Greg Hemphill, and directed by Vicky Featherstone, the play is about the Loch Parry Players’ production of everyone’s favourite Christian virgin burning cult classic film. The night before they open their leading man goes missing, and someone from the mainland has to be brought in to cover. Expect lots of spoof scenes from the original film, and good use of the great soundtrack. Most of all settle down for one of the more unashamedly enjoyable experiences of this year’s Fringe. You don’t have to have seen The Wicker Man to appreciate it, but it undeniably helps, and you should anyway. Here’s the production trailer:
Liz Lochhead is a busy lady this August, appearing at the Edinburgh Book Festival as well as playing host at The Assembly Rooms with her show Making Nothing Happen, which will see our Makar taking the audience through some of the ‘best bits’ of her career, and which will have daily guests joining her for a chat. If you think that sounds cosy then you don’t know Liz. This could be one of the most indiscreet, raucous and funny afternoons you’ll be able to enjoy this year. It will also be quite beautiful at times.
I’m going to finish off with a quick roundup of the best in comedy at this year’s Fringe. I’ve said it before (probably the last two years if you could be bothered to check), but I rarely take chances with my comedy. I’ve spent too much time looking at the floor in tiny rooms while someone dies on their arse metres in front of me. So it may be obvious, but I’ll be going to see Richard Herring’s Talking Cock: The Second Coming at the Underbelly in Bristo Square, and probably one of his Fringe podcasts at The Stand. I’ll also pop back to the Assembly Rooms to see his old partner Stewart Lee‘s show Carpet Remnant World. I would suggest Daniel Kitson’s new show Where Once Was Wonder, but apparently it’s already sold out! Since Phil Kay’s absent this year I’ll get my Scottish madman fix from Jerry Sadowitz. I haven’t seen Sadowitz live for about 15 odd years, and I reckon I’m just about ready for the next round. Nearly every comedian, stand-up or otherwise, will be in town for August so you should head to edfringe.com for the full listing.
There are other acts of interest such as Frisky & Mannish: 27 Club which promises to be darker than their previous shows, with some unexpected self reflection as they reach that accursed age. For something more serious I fancy the Emanuel Theatre Company’s production of Antigone which is on at the Space on the Mile and the brilliant Miriam Margolyes brings her show Dickens’ Women to the Pleasance Courtyard. Looking at Scotland at a crucial point in its history, Vladimir McTavish and Keir McAllister Look at the State of Scotland at The Stand Comedy Club III & IV, and, avoiding my own advice, I will check out Dr Ettrick-Hogg’s Manly Stand Ups purely on the name alone, and the fact that it is part of the Laughing Horse Free Festival. There is also a lot of Shakespeare in this year’s Fringe, and a surprising amount of it looks rather good, but I’m going to plump for Shit-faced Shakespeare for little other reason that someone I trust told me it’s very good. And now I’m telling you, which is the best way to spread the word. Here’s the trailer:
If you’re doing anything at the Fringe, or elsewhere in Edinburgh, then let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org as we will be bringing the podcast to town for a bit early in August, interviewing whoever will let us, so if you’ve got something you want to promote then let us know and we’ll try and catch up.