Chris Grady: Final Edinburgh reflections and recommendations
My last couple of days in Edinburgh (Monday and Tuesday) passed in a whirlwind because, not only was I seeing shows, I was also ensuring that my three guests from the creative industries in Tokyo were seeing a range of shows and venues.
It was a pleasure to see their delight at Edinburgh as a city, and the festival as a vibrant centre. They have now returned to think through their next steps which will, I hope, bring some amazing new shows to Edinburgh and the world in 2015.
I saw about 35 shows, did 11 CGO Surgeries and two group meetings, had some inspiring unexpected meetings about StoryMusic2020, ate far too much bread and far too little veg.
If you are in Edinburgh until the end of the festival, or are looking for shows/companies to check out in the autumn and beyond - then here are the nine shows which bubbled to the surface for me, in no particular order:
Ben Moor - Each of Us - his fifth heartfelt, inspiring, brain-expanding very personal story.
Julie Madly Deeply - Sarah Louise Young and Michael Roulston looking at the life, joy, and music which made Julie Andrews and delighted millions.
Showstoppers - the improvisational musical company which grew from its first 70 seat season in 2008 with us at Musical Theatre @ George Square, to the all cheering, packed to the rafters, Edinburgh and West End sensation.
Monkey Poet - performance poet with anger and edge but a lot of heart (*unsuitable for those of a sensitive linguistic disposition).
Smooth Faced Gentlemen - Titus Andronicus - this new all-female Shakespeare troupe are ready to be offered their next major professional step, and my sense is that there will be a lot of London off-West End theatres looking at what this company is planning for 2014 and beyond.
Not The Messiah - Tom Crawshaw's one man play offering us a very personal exploration of Graham Chapman with some inspired Monty Pythonesque interjections - emotionally and deeply played by George Telfer.
Gecko - Missing - shows how beautiful it is possible to make a piece if the balance of bodies, light, technology and sheer creative passion is there. Amit Lahav is an important player in the Ipswich scene and the world arts scene, and in the Edinburgh Festival. I presume he will soon be asked to cross from the Fringe to the International Festival - Gecko deserve that acknowledgement.
The Bridge - Benjamin Scheuer's one man and three acoustic guitar life storytelling. Heartfelt, beautifully crafted, and emotionally charged.
The System - African Tree Productions - A company of five physical storytellers in a play about three escaped prisoners trying to understand and escape the system. This is a 10.30am treat to start the day for anyone interested in South African theatre and life, and the crafting of a good multiple role-play drama. So glad I caught it.
I had 50+ shows on my hit list for this summer, but could only fit in about 30 of them and a further five or so which I found by chance or saw on request. I only saw a couple of absolute stinkers - and for many more than the nine I list above there I was delighted to be in the audience, and pleased to follow the company or some of the artists (where I have a programme to add to my records).
Overall a really enjoyable ten days for me. As I would recommend to any company planning to play the Fringe (or indeed any person planning to go there to see shows) - know why you are going to Edinburgh, plan what you want to see (and why) or who you want to see your show (and why) - and then go out and find the perfect match of show and audience. It takes work - but it's worth it. Enjoy the final few days of Edfringe 2013, and look out for transfers and tours in the coming months to a theatre.