Best of the Edinburgh Blogs - Week One
During the Festival’s first week, bad behaviour has niggled performers and reviewers alike. Dugald Bruce-Lockhart pondered the ever-present phenomenon of latecomers, Michael Coveney encountered some rather-too-noisy stonemasons and Christopher Dingli lamented his own momentary lapse while feverishly flyering on the Royal Mile. Meanwhile, Alison Goldie spent an afternoon trying to engage some disinterested (and disillusioned) hacks, while Steve Pretty’s penchant for improv smoothed over preview teething problems in a particularly novel fashion.
“Okay, so what's your plan when ten members of your audience pitch up five minutes into the show? I had three turn up late to The Cage but luckily they were carrying pints of beer and I managed to terrify them into not even taking a sip. Good. No - just kidding - we love you really. Almost as much as your mobile phones going off. But seriously, the show I caught tonight - a fab two hander at the Assembly - had some guy arriving late walk clean across the back of the set. He then sat like a naughty school boy wondering why 125 people were staring at him for the next ten minutes. Odd.”
“Most of yesterday was spent in the smaller Traverse, which is like sitting in an oven turned up to Gas Mark Five. Luckily the plays were almost worth it, and Groundhog Day was enlivened by some bad behaviour, onstage and off. The one show I skipped was Tim Crouch's The Author, with its pre-arranged audience disruption, to which some of said disrupted audience are taking very strong exception and disrupting the disruption by walking out. Traverse director Dominic Hill had to exit smartly, too, from The Girl in the Yellow Dress, as the builders and stonemasons fiddling about on the disgraceful building site outside suddenly got very noisy. And the curse of strict scheduling kicked in when two people at My Romantic History had to beetle away, presumably to a late night comedian somewhere, as the show droned on way past its ninety minute mark.”
“Today I did something I'm rather ashamed of. I consider myself to be a relatively decent human being, but today I did something that, on reflection, was a trifle rash… Picture the scene. You're in Edinburgh with your loved one. You've spent a lovely morning strolling around and have stopped for coffee at a rather shabby and very overpriced cafe. You're sitting with your beloved, who is whispering sweet little nothings into your ear making you feeling warm and happy. It's all very romantic…You hold hands across the table and gaze into each others' eyes. You wish this moment would last for ever. Then, out of nowhere, some idiot bursts into your life. He sticks a flyer into your face. "If you want to see a good show, come and see this. It's great!" He gives you a thumbs-up and flashes a smile that makes him look like a person escaped from the asylum, before disappearing into the crowd. The moment is gone. You sit in silence, staring at the flyer, wishing that whoever that was, was never born.”
“So it was on to Fringe Central, the base for performers, which was hosting a media-pestering afternoon. Here was an opportunity for several thousand actors, producers and Uncle Tom Cobbley to make pitches to various representatives of the Press to persuade them to review us. I arrived 15 minutes ahead of the appointed time and the queue of thespian miscreants stretched round the block… I endeavoured to be stoic. I bit my nails, looked at endless posters of stand-up comedians, all of whom have reviews saying ‘The future of comedy’ and listened to the conversations of young idealistic Fringers who didn’t feel too old and dignified to do this. At last, the door was mine to enter. I composed my face and straightened up my wilting body. Nobody cared. I walked into a room that was full of many, many more queues. It was a Dante-esque moment. Each journo had set up at a table, and their newspaper title was posted above their heads. The queue for The Scotsman was longer than the unravelled intestines of an elephant. I picked a relatively short queue for something else. I died of malnutrition waiting in it.”
“Frances (Rufelle’s) first show went very well on Wednesday night and seemed to be nicely received too, which was a great start. I’m playing trumpet in the show, and it must be said that my trumpet playing was a little better than my on-stage costume mistressing; all was thrown into confusion when I took back a crucial piece of costume to my seat rather than help her to put it on… My first preview on Thursday afternoon, however, was somewhat less slick. Because of the lack of tech time it was inevitably beset by tech problems, though going up 15 minutes late ensured that it was the on-stage editing of the script that I had only just (almost) learnt that was the biggest headache. Still, all that aside, it was good to get it on its feet and the tiny audience were very appreciative. It was also a really great chance to work on my improv skills, which is a nice way of saying that instead of the carefully-planned ending, the first preview ended with me playing ‘Under Pressure’ on a toy electronic trumpet.”
- Lydia Onyett
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