Chris Grady: Edinburgh - getting going
After a slight delay because of animals on the line at York, we sailed into Waverley Station at 2.45pm on Friday and I was in my first show after registration at Fringe Central (lovely team, really helpful) by 4.10pm.
Then a couple of meetings with writers, cabaret artists and literary agents before an evening of checking our venues (and bars) with the wonderful Fiona Orr (who is one of the judges on the MTN Awards and previously ran the whole shebang... she knows everyone in Edinburgh).
With 40 shows to see I am bound to have a few where it's difficult to be effusive with praise - you'll excuse me if I follow thumper's advice and... don't say nuthink at all about some of them. But praise definitely to the close vocal dexterity of All That Malarkey from the Royal Welsh College in Cardiff who had a packed and cheering house at venue 13 which is a haven of Welsh creativity this year.
So many of the venues are now massive businesses with every available broom cupboard converted into a performance area. It was so refreshing to come to a singe, really well proportioned, venue with a small carefully selected programme. A bit the way the grey-haired amongst us remember the Fringe as it was in the last century...and none the worse for that. Thank you to Venue 13 for making us so welcome and squeeeeezing us into a sell-out.
I would praise all the performers properly by name but there was no programme (one of my absolute moaning points for any Fringe performance). They are there to be spotted and its crazy for me blogging about the tall one, or the ginger one, or the very smiley one, or the nicely nicely Johnson one.
But I can blog about the force of nature who is the creator and MD David. Way way over the top but clearly phenomenally talented. Think Stephen Fry meets Alan Partridge and Russell Harty. I would love him to develop All That Malarkey further but allow a little more space and time for the singers to shine both as a fantastic close knit quarter and but also as soloists. Great original material and some King's Singers do-the-classics style renditions of Beatles and others. I will try and see them again and hope they also do some opera next time.
Now a quick report on bars and gathering places. George Street is alive and buzzing with bars and The Famous Spiegeltent. When I visited to see the wonderful Des O'Connor hosting an afternoon of cabaret it was filled with besuited office workers with loud glasses of wine. They were having a lovely time and bringing the Festival back into the New Town.
All praise to Tommy Shepherd for re-awakening the area with Stand and the Assembly Rooms, and I am now off to New Town Theatre to see Tomek's programme again on George Street. Later at night I checked into the Pleasance Courtyard which was packed with happy students and locals on a good Friday night out, and then we moved to the very refined underground carpark which is the Assembly (not that assembly, but the other assembly... yes confusing) Bar.
It's below George Square Theatre which I looked on slightly sadly/fondly remembering the two years the University supported us to create Musical Theatre at George Square. Now just another venue in the massive conglomerate... but times change. Maybe one year there will again be a dedicated complex for Musical Theatre.
Right. Stop waffling. Reviews written and posted. Breakfast had, Fringe Central tickets for Japanese business men bought. Now off to my first of six shows today. More anon.
Enjoy Edinburgh by being there, or by reading about it.