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The Waiting Is Over, Let the Games Begin

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Well, the 2010 festival is upon us. You can tell the time has arrived because it has begun to rain a lot (though I think that particular daily act of God is aimed more at the recently enroyaled Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo,where the brave gather nightly on the castle esplanade and the up-putting of umbrellas is strictly forbidden).

The 2,453 shows in the Fringe (and several more in the International Festival) are preparing for curtain up. If you arrive in our city on day one, you might assume that the 250 venues that house the shows are always there. Well, of course, most of them are here but not used as a theatre venues for most of the year. For the past few weeks, sweaty, vested techies have been installing seating, scaffolding and rigging to transform the local scout hall (or Aga showroom in one case) into a temporary version of the London Palladium or the Olivier (without the double revolve).

The biggest controversy making the headlines of the local evening paper is that, because of increased traffic during the festival, a major supermarket chain has suspended home deliveries (shopping not births) for the duration. Now, you may say, big deal, but if you are an elderly person used to that little lifeline, you have every right to be upset. And it is those little disruptions to normal life that make some locals feel less than welcoming to the annual inFESTation.

Luckily, many more welcome the jamboree with open arms and doors (some literally as they rent their flats out at exhorbitant rents and jet off to the Bahamas on the proceeds). It is a well-rehearsed myth that locals don't go to Festival events. Let us scotch that one now  - we do! - in droves.

So, as Whatsonstage.com Scotland Editor, a warm welcome to our fair (and often inclement, weatherwise) city. To performers and producers, may all your shows sell out and to audience members, may all your choices turn out to be five stars. Of course, that won't happen, but it will all be such fun.

- Keith Paterson

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