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Tragedy Averted

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Keep calm and carry on. The fringe has an odd way of subtly adjusting my threshold of what is and isn't worth reporting, so hopefully this blog isn't miscalibrated. On Friday I began what is certainly the most extreme fringe regime I've ever undertaken, performing three shows per day, the Rap Guide to Evolution at 12:30, the Rap Guide to Human Nature at 3:45, and Rapconteur at 8.45, each of them one hour long and each of them alike in that they consist of me running a constant monologue mixing rap and comedy and infotainment. Exhausting as that sounds (for me, not the crowds, smart-ass), I've still been finishing the last show with energy to spare and have been out dancing and watching comedy shows for the past few nights. It's a bit surreal and I keep expecting something to sideswiped me, but so far so robust, and my voice is solid. Piece of piss, as they say around here.

Hmm, what else? On Sunday morning at 11am I arrived at C Central for an event called the Naked Brunch, which is exactly what it was. Food was served, cabaret entertainment was in effect, a mix of burlesque and comedy (and evolutionary rap), and the performers (a dozen or so of us) and audience (about a hundred of them) were all 100% nude. This was one of those "sign up for something crazy to test my own limits" initiatives, but when I stepped onto that stage in front of a room full of naked strangers I didn't feel the least bit intimidated, even in spite of my awareness that the cool Scottish morning air was shriveling my endowment, credit crunch style. I just worked the word "shrinkage" into the freestyle section of "Performance, Feedback, Revision" (rhyming it with "Brinkman" and "delinquents"), kept calm and carried on (got a huge naked cheer too), then hustled out of there for my Evolution show at half twelve.

What else? A number of smashing reviews came out over the past few days: for Rapconteur I got a five star review from Three Weeks (which isn't yet online), a four star review from the Scotsman, and another really nice one from the Stage (they don't do stars), so that show has been really full lately. And for the Rap Guide to Human Nature we got four stars from Whatsonstage and four stars from Broadway Baby. Smooth sailing.

Today was my day off, but the main event was the Gospel at Colonus at the Playhouse Theatre with the Blind Boys of Alabama and a cast of about forty African American gospel singers reinterpreting Oedipus as a Southern Baptist revival. The music was incredible and moving, but the surreal part for me was reflecting that just before the show I was meeting with its New York producer, Sharon Levy, whose next project now that Gospel at Colonus' sell out run at the Edinburgh International Festival is finished is to bring the Rap Guide to Evolution to New York for an off-Broadway run. I can't imagine two more different shows stylistically; today she's producing a show with forty black people singing amazing harmonies about trusting in god, and her next show will be one white guy rapping about Darwin. But on reflection I guess rap Darwin and gospel Sophocles are not such distant artistic cousins, and I figure any producer willing to make that transition has to be pretty cool.

So tomorrow I start the final week of the fringe, feeling good, with good reviews and good crowds and in good spirits, upbeat and ready for the mere 19 shows (give or take) that I have left to perform. I almost wish i had something more edgy and calamitous to report, because I am aware of how saccharine this post is coming across. But screw it. This may be the calm before the storm or it may just be a calm stretch with no disaster on the horizon, but either way I plan to keep calm and carry on, and leave the tragedy to Oedipus.

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