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Chris Grady: From Stephen Hawking to Julie Andrews

Yesterday (Saturday) was my first full-day on the Fringe this year.

EdFringe is all about surprising new sensations and unexpected new companies for me – so starting with a Polish company of differently-abled actors, exploring the world of Stephen Hawking through movement and drama in polish, seemed the obvious place to start. I overheard the legendary Richard Demarco observe to the artistic director of the New Town Theatre that this was a brave and important company to bring to Edinburgh.

Teatr Arka offers us a rich and extra-ordinary vision of a ball happening inside the mind of one of our greatest living mathematical geniuses in Ball at Hawking's. Clowns as neurons, an exploration of love and erotic fulfilment and a live score make up this embodiment of the twisted frame of Mr Hawking... quite a creative challenge. It will be fascinating to see how they move forward with their additional work in the UK in conjunction with The Malthouse in Barking and Dagenham through to the end of August.

From there it was hotfoot to the Gilded Balloon to see the stunning Sarah-Louise Young as Julie Andrews and many other characters in the life of Julie, Madly, Deeply. A packed house delighted at her most beautiful voice, and her passion for the career and performance of this phenomenal star. I so hope Dame Julie sees the performance – she will be captivated and honoured by the love from stage and audience. Grab a ticket if you can for Sarah-Louise with her wonderful Musical Director Michael Roulston.

You could also see them in Song for Cynics their second show each day at Counting House. We are blessed by great young cabaret and musical theatre artists, and this should establish (if anyone needed to be convinced) that Sarah-Louise is a fantastic creative artist.

That was fun – now what will I make of Monkey Poet? A quick trip into the darkened cellar of the Banshee Labyrinth to see this 6'5" master poet and storyteller. A powerhouse of intelligence, he offers us a filthy exploration of life, sex, politics, corruption and the underbelly of society.

A completely packed house were taken to the very edge of their tolerance for subject matter and language… and then taken a few steps further just because we were there and ready to explore. I only know the Monkey Poet having found him staying overnight in my flat a few months ago (invited and most welcome). I had breakfast with him and he kindly gave me a book of his work. He is most definitely worth a visit, and I will check in on his new solo play Love Hurts Actually, also playing daily at the Banshee.

Next up a good bit of blood and gore; Titus Andronicus from the only all-female Shakespeare troupe – Smooth Faced Gentlemen. A really excellent ensemble of actors giving a fast paced intelligent darkly humorous reading of the Bard's gorefest. It was great to be back at the Bedlam Theatre after a few years away – great space, and delightful welcome from all those from the University who are running it.

Next up, Vive Le Cabaret with the master of ceremonies, Mr Des O'Connor, at the Pleasance Courtyard. He remains as suave and sophisticated and devilish as always, and his material has got darker and richer over the years I have had the pleasure to know him. He bites and delights as he introduces an array of crowd-pleasing acts, each with their own shows across the Festival (this is a great way to spot shows for future days).

And then it was time, at long-last, for a sit down and a drink. Brooke's Bar was tonights focus – so I could catch-up with the Smooth Faced Gentlemen company, and their connected parties in Three's Company. A couple of pints and then a long walk across town to find a nice 2am cab to take me home to Orr Palace where I am staying. Not enough sleep, but alive and awake in time for the Networking Breakfast on Sunday morning at Fringe Central.

More to follow as the days progress.