Festival Highlights has had a great Fringe, and it’s fallen to me to sum up the month, and reflect on the highs and lows of it all.
The lows have been minimal, but include the first day walking into our temporary home and office base, discovering a strange sticky greasy film over almost everything in the kitchen, peeling paintwork, and mysterious stains on various carpets. I thought I’d hit the triple jackpot, and then the bonus dropped – we had mice as well!
The highs have been much greater. Two of our shows (both directed by Hannah Eidinow) won Fringe First Awards - the excitement of receiving the phone call on the Wednesday, all the cheers in the office, and then having to keep it a secret until the official announcement on the Friday, is an addictive feeling, and certainly something to aspire to again next year. One of our performers – Simon Merrells from Steven Berkoff’s Oedipus was also nominated for the Stage Best Actor award. He sadly lost out, but told me he gets a plaque anyway for the nomination and seemed pretty happy with that. Cabaret Whore sold over 100% of the official room capacity, thanks to adding extra seats – a great achievement. We’ve also had an enormous amount of four and five-star reviews, and have subsequently used a rainforest’s worth of sticky labels to remind everyone about them.
Beyond the highs and the lows are those surreal moments that seem completely normal until you think about what’s actually happening. Here I point you towards the invisible dog leads we employed as a marketing strategy for Lights, Camera, Walkies – invisible dogs were rife chasing tourists around Bristo Square. In the last week, we had the four-year old daughter of our associate producer staying with us – after a trip to the Royal Mile, she returned to the office with a large octopus made out of balloons, which she named Hardeep after Chat Masala’s host, Mr Singh Kohli. Naturally, Hardeep (the man) was very touched to have a namesake in Hardeep (the octopus). And let's not forget the moment during the final get-out when I found myself carrying a large bag full of dildos through a medieval garden.
Of course there’s also the celebrity-spotting (admit it, we all do it, professionalism aside) – in the first week I opened a door into Phill Jupitus three times in one day, I’ve stood at the bar countless times next to Tim Vine, I tried to stay completely composed and professional when meeting Paul Daniels, and I couldn’t quite find the words to tell Dave Gorman about the Googlewhack I found about 14 years ago. I was upset not to get to meet Brian May, but heard all manner of stories about his crying at Anita Dobson’s performance in Oedipus, and how he apparently invaded the stage at Al Murray’s show during the finale when Al gets everyone singing We Are The Champions. Only in Edinburgh could this happen!
And so I leave you, dear reader, and thank you for reading our blog entries, and sharing our Fringe experience with us. You will also be pleased to hear that more quiches were brought on to our train when we reached Newcastle. I know you were worried that I wasn’t eating properly.