I spent a week at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Or International Flyer Festival according to Milton Jones. I attend most years since living there. I aim for 2-3 shows a day. Any more and it feels like orienteering: wet, sweaty and never quite arriving with enough time.
I saw Cockroached on the first day. It was a miserable day worsened by fever during the night. I'd seen the show already but they'd had sound problems. The show relies on one of the actors speaking to the other through a radio on stage. It was great to hear it clearly and it brought home the pressure being exerted by the caller.
On Saturday, the weather turned into something approaching summer. I headed back to the Pleasance Courtyard - packed with raincoats rustling in queues or ingesting a pint. The show I saw was Testosterone by Rhum and Clay. They excel in physical movement. This show added singing and Kit Redstone, who provided an autobiographical story about gender. It was a fun and sometimes uncomfortable experience centred around a final reveal. An important play that reminds us of moments in life that remain with us.
In the evening, we saw Medea on Media. Now Medea is meant to be a play everyone should see. Well, most will have never seen it performed like this. It was performed at the top of Adam House. We were early and welcomed by the Producer. Nice touch. It was an extraordinary performance. The lighting was static and the costume changes occurred to the side of the square, flat performance area. The scenes were reimagined in fantastical ways. A fight scene became Street Fighter. Monologues were given as Court House-style announcements.
On Sunday, I saw Out of Love in the round at Summerhall. This is the old Vetinerary College. It had some great food and a gin bar in the centre serving Sri Lankan dishes. The play was by Elinor Cook, one of my tutors on the Arvon Course I attended. The lighting was intriguing, multicoloured rings of LEDs. The show told the story of a female friendship through the years. There were multiple scenes that were mixed up in time. It was fabulously acted. The interchange of scenes gave your brain something to work on - piecing things together.
In the evening, we saw Circa:Humans. This was in the circus tent in the Meadows. It was a great show and our most expensive. We recognised one of the performers from last year from a different show. There were some great acrobatics and some wonderful visual moments when they performed together. It received a standing ovation.
For my last day, I saw Finding Nana by Paines Plough. This was a great one person show. It told the story of a woman's relationship with her grandmother. She played herself at different ages with just a bed as a prop. It was a superb performance with an extraordinary recital of a list of things towards the end. Things to remember someone by.
In the evening, I saw Ellen Waddell in her show, It's Better to Lie Than to Tell the Truth and End Up Alone in a Ditch Crying, at the Cellar Monkey. This was part of the Free Fringe, something I'd not been to before. It's unticketed and you give donations at the end. It was an acutely autobiographical piece about her time as a musician and her transition to her new career. I think anyone who's been stuck in a job they don't like would emphasise. But imagine if it was the job everybody dreamed of having? How much more difficult would it be to leave it?
I had a great few days off although it felt somewhat like work. No longer do the shows glow with the mystery of creation. I know how it's done now. I also saw several shows by people I know. Hey ho, I bet I'll still go back again.