It’s August and for those of us living and working in and around Edinburgh this can only mean one thing: Festival time!
The Edinburgh Festivals have been running for 70 years now, beginning in 1947 with the Edinburgh International Festival, and the gatecrashers that became the Edinburgh Fringe. Over the years the list of Edinburgh festivals has continued to grow and now includes the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June, the Jazz and Blues Festival and of course the Edinburgh International Book Festival amongst others.
Last weekend I met up with one of my best friends Ian, his new flatmate and a few of her friends and braved the city for our Fringe weekend. Generally speaking I don’t have a problem with being in crowds, other than they stop me from getting to where I want to be and I get a little frustrated, so I was under strict instructions from Ian to put myself in tourist mode before we stepped off the train which I think I mainly managed to do!
One thing to note, I am an organiser, I hate not being organised, christmas, birthdays, me and my other best friend Zara will organise, Ian will usually be organised by one of us, so when we got into town with no tickets booked and not even having a list of shows we wanted to try and get tickets for I was slightly stressed. Top tip think a bit about what you want to see and try and book some tickets! A lot of Fringe venues are small, and the intimacy is great but it means a lot of shows sell out quickly, especially on the weekend! I have to admit though we got lucky and still got in to see some fantastic shows even if they weren’t all our first choices.
We started off our Saturday at The Gilded Balloon Teviot watching Deadpan Theatre: Third Wheel. Third Wheel is a musical play, it tells the story of Polly and Eve, at university they were part of a group of three best friends including Dylan, at the end of university the two girls fell out and haven’t spoken to each other since, but now Dylan has passed, and in his will he asked the two girls to go on a road trip together.
We went into the show really knowing nothing about it, we just went up to the ticket office and asked what was coming up soon that wasn’t sold out, what we ended up seeing was a funny, moving, well produced show with a wonderful cast and I would definitely recommend it!
Deadpan Theatre: Third Wheel is on daily at 2pm through to the 27th August at the Gilded Balloon Teviot.
We then headed for the Royal Mile to visit the main Fringe box office, and pop into The Fudge Kitchen further down the High Street, past the year long Christmas Shop, The Fudge Kitchen is a must visit for us, if I’m ever heading up to Dundee for the weekend and ask if there’s anything anyone wants from Edinburgh it’s always fudge! Plus there’s free samples of so many flavours!
We then walked down to Princes Street Gardens and grabbed dinner at a Peruvian pop up behind St John’s Church at the Lothian Road end of the gardens, before a quick cocktail at the pop up bar next door, dinner and drinks in a graveyard is a slightly weird experience however the food was great! We then popped over to Rose Street and saw Who, Me at the Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre, the show was okay, but perhaps aimed at bigger Doctor Who fans than us.
Who, Me is on daily at 8:15pm through to the 28th August at the Gilded Balloon at the Rose Theatre.
We finished off the evening with a bit of a speedwalk from Rose Street back to George Square to watch Sweatshop. Sweatshop is a cabaret show, there’s a great MC, and a variety of acts, including burlesque and acrobatics. One act felt a little like it was there purely to shock but it was a great show, lots of laughing, the two guys doing the gymnastics / acrobatics were amazing! Definitely X rated, there’s full nudity from one of the female acts so if that’s really not your thing consider yourself warned!
Sweatshop is on daily at 10pm through to the 27th August (excluding Monday 21st August) at the Assembly George Square Gardens.
Sunday morning dawned far too quickly, a quick coffee in the house, and a brief stop at Greggs for a breakfast roll and we were on the train back into the city for an unplanned day two!
We wandered through the city and eventually ended up at the Pleasance Courtyard where we managed to sneak tickets for Mervyn Stutter’s Pick of the Fringe. No two days of this are ever the same as the team bring in different acts from around the festival for each show, and they always try and get some theatre included. It was a great way to get exposure to a lot of shows we might have missed in the program. On Sunday we saw extracts from 7 different shows and I’m going to briefly talk about 3 that I particularly loved.
First up Rachel Parris: Keynote. Rachel has been invited back to her old school to give a speech at their prize giving, instead of writing the speech she wrote an Edinburgh show! Rachel shared part of her show, including a hilarious song about friends having children that I identified with more than I probably should! She definitely left me wanting more, I’ll have to see if I can find the time to get to her full show one evening.
Next up is Stephen Bailey: Can’t Think Straight. Stephen was hilarious talking about relationships, work and his working class upbringing, the part that Stephen performed had us all almost crying with laughter. Another one I’d love to try and get to the full show one evening – Oh this one is part of the Free Fringe too!
Finally Choir of Man. Choir of man is a group of guys who dance and sing a variety of songs from modern pop and rock to Irish folk songs. They did three songs for us, including a wonderful acoustic number, they sounded wonderful and their actual show involves much more choreography than they could do with four mics between them on this stage. They really did sound incredible together, and this particular group of guys have only been singing together for a little over a month – I’m also advised they give out free beer! Amazingly there’s still tickets left so if I can find someone to go with I’m there!
Mervyn Stutter’s Pick of the Fringe is on at 12:30pm at the Pleasance Courtyard 18th – 23rd August and 25th – 27th August.
Rachel Parris: Keynote is on at 8:20pm nightly until 28th August at the Pleasance Dome.
Stephen Bailey: Can’t Think Straight is on every evening at 5:15pm at the Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters
Choir of Man is performing every evening at 6:35pm at the Assembly Rooms until 27th August.
Finally we trekked back over to the Gilded Balloon Teviot to watch Notflix. This was so good! It’s a completely improvised musical based on a movie choice from an audience member. While we were queuing to go in some of the members came round with slips and pens and asked us to write down the name of the last film we watched along with a brief synopsis, I went with Star Wars: Rogue One (yes I saw it at the cinema, yes that is the last time I watched a movie, definitely more of a TV girl), Ian went with Spy, the film with Melissa McCarthy, and wrote some dodgy synopsis because he couldn’t quite remember the name of the film, one of the last things he said to me as we sat down was I hope they don’t pull mine out of the bucket, so naturally they did! Fortunately for us they also pulled out Harry Potter (at some point the instruction shifted from last film, to favourite film) and it came down to audience choice, and lets be honest, Spy vs all eight Harry Potter films there was no contest, even Ian voted Harry Potter. This show was absolutely incredible, they had great voices, the songs were hilarious it was hard to believe it was completely improvised! Due to it’s nature no two shows will be the same, the Harry Potter geek in me loved the fact our show was HP themed but I could happily go and watch them again and again!
Show done it was time to head back to Waverley and wait for a train out of the madness. I spent far too much money, festival drinks aren’t cheap! and didn’t get a chance to pop into Charlotte Square for the book festival, but I might try and rectify that next weekend. Edinburgh festivals are crazy but I love them!
Throughout the post I’ve linked to each show’s page on the Fringe website, you’ll find more details there, including reviews and some even have some media, Choir of Man have a great clip of the previous incarnation doing an a cappella version of Hello.
Have you been at the Fringe this year? What shows have you loved? Let me know below!