The festival is incredible. I've always thought this and probably always will. The sheer number and diversity of events is breathtaking. I won't bother you with the exact facts and figures of how many shows, performers etc. there are at this fringe this year. Suffice to say I have never in my life experienced anything quite like it. This year -as a participant- I've definitely had significantly less time to really immerse myself in the festival like I usually do, but I've experienced a few little gems so far.
My first night out was to the Edinburgh Tonight gala where I sampled grapefuit and vodka cocktails and watched a combination of acts that blend cabaret and comedy in a way that so perfectly fits the niche that has been carved out for it at this festival over the last few years (so much so that this year is the first year that cabaret has had it's own listing in the Fringe Programme!). Highlights were Kev Orkian (a mock-Armenian keyboard player/singer with a cheeky grin, superb comedy timing and his own special way with classic pop, cabaret and musical theatre songs) and Sharron Matthews (a big crazy lady from the USA with a breathtaking voice and comedy talent to match). I've also seen Chris Mayo, a young stand-up from London, who delivered a beautifully written comic poem on the 'joys' of clubbing.
Then a friend visiting from Australia took me to a show I would probably not have booked to see myself but am so glad I did. Called 'The Hermitude of Angus, Ecstatic', it was a blend of comedy, theatre and dance. I neither loved nor hated the piece but it did touch me, excite me, enthuse me, inspire me...yes at times it lost me entirely, but overall it left an impression. I like to see all type of theatre and I don't often enjoy being confounded in this way but in this case I'm glad I was. The writer/peformer has such vision, empathy and talent: he's the kind of person who holds a spark of something theatrical that intrigues me and inspires me. The show wasn't perfect by any means, and there is a great deal I could critique about it, but it was adventurous and theatrical and at times beautiful. For me, it perfectly epitomises the spirit of the fringe.