Edinburgh Fringe 2002 home

Day 6 - Saturday 24th August

Mal's first day at the fringe and I had a lot in store for him. Some of it we planned in advance, some I'd added to the schedule on his nod. I hope he enjoyed the sheer variety.

Show: Shakespeare for breakfast
Performed by: C venue theatre group
When: 10:00
Where: C Venue
Cost: 5.50

One of the highlights of a previous trip to the Fringe was the Shakespeare for Breakfast show. Having confounded my enemies and bored my friends with tales of the show I'd originally seen, I suddenly discovered that the tradition had continued to the 2002 fringe. The setup is simple. Take a morning audience, give them coffee and a croissant and a Shakespeare-based play... the play being more a spoof of Shakey than a faithful reproduction of his writing.

This year we had "Romeo and Juliet - the pantomime". With a happy ending!

Very entertaining and cleverly written. The show was essentially produced by the cast through a series of improvisations that eventually became scripted and rehearsed (I spoke to one of them and found out how they did it). It was very funny and in keeping with the Panto tradition - the nurse being the pantomime dame, always on about her baps.

They had set up the two factions (Capulet/Montague) as opposing bakeries and so ended their "tale of dough" on a superb rhyming pastiche (i.e. not a tale of woe).

Show: Lennie Beige's Pick of the Fringe
Performed by: Various
When: 13:00
Where: Pleasance over the road
Cost: 8.00

It is always a good idea to see the highlights shows if you cannot spend long at the Fringe. Lenny Beige (a.k.a. Steve Furst) hosted his highlights show throughout the festival held in "The Brighton of the North". In this show, highlights included a second chance to see some of the work of the Naked Voices and Jackie Clune. In addition, we witnessed the crazy happenings of the Bonzo Dog-do Bar Band. Their dancers were exotic and intoxicating and completely scary - so much happiness in one face and so much vigour... well, it made me feel old and odd.

Show: Spooks
Performed by: Fat Bloke Productions
When: 15:45
Where: Pleasance Below
Cost: 9.00

The cast, including the versatile Phil Brown (also of the Polowski Murders) took us through a relatively unmemorable, but highly entertaining hour. The premise being that someone working for a travel agency one day discovers he's about to be enlisted as a spy. Quite why or how is no longer in my mind. However, there were many laughs to be had and the talents of Mr Brown - who provided several characters to the proceedings, makes me remember this as a creditable way of spending a few quid and 60 minutes.

Show: Gladiatrix: She Wolf of Rome
Performed by: Your Face Here
When: 17:35
Where: Pleasance Upstairs
Cost: 10.00

I had to see this. Partly because it looked like it might be good, partly through my personal rule that I'd always attempt to see a show recommended by one of its cast - the idea being that if someone bothered to speak to me then they must be down to earth enough to be worth supporting. However, perhaps one of my other reasons for seeing this show was to make amends for a rather embarrassing incident that I blame entirely on David.

I had been sitting chatting with David and Debs when a couple of young ladies arrived with flyers for this show. They talked to us about the show and I asked who was in it. "We are." said the one I was speaking with - Lucy - "Oh, is that you on the picture?" said I. David immediately discovered a wind-up opportunity - "Are you saying she's not pretty enough to be that girl on the picture?". I was immediately on the back foot. I strenuously denied this and wanted to say that the girl on the picture appeared to have an entirely different complexion and hair to the one in front of me. Lucy bailed me out pointing out that she was posing in wig and lots of makeup for the picture. Relaxing a bit, I asked about the show - the first point that they emphasised was the quality of the director. I felt that they were doing themselves no favours by putting their admiration for the director above self-promotion of the work they'd put in. I wanted to tell them that they should tell me how good they were... I wanted them to realise that I respected them as performers and that I felt that a director would only be as good as the material he was working with. I wanted them to feel that I was on their side as struggling artists. The words "Yes, but you can't polish a turd" did not convey this message... indeed, I regret ever putting them on the table. I meant something so different.

The show itself was most entertaining. Mal and I were on the front row as the leggy Lucy, in short skirt and (thankfully for my sensibilities) several pairs of underwear with false pubic hair for a gag, cavorted about the stage. Co stars James (who shares my birthday and runs a website I read these days) and Barunka provided a solid crew. The star of the show was, of course, the lion - operated with panache by Barunka. It was fun, it was witty and it was silly. There was not a turd in sight.

Show: Talking Cock
Performed by: Richard Herring
When: 20:30
Where: Pleasance Above
Cost: 10.00

Richard Herring and the Fringe Festival - a good pairing. I was glad to have the opportunity to see the man perform. At the past fringe, I'd found a chance to speak to him - and I'd spoken to him on a couple of other occasions. To me, Mr Herring feels like someone more than just an anonymous star. Of course to him, I'm another random face in the crowd... I probably should not have acknowledged him with such familiarity as he walked across the Pleasance Courtyard before the show - he smiled back weakly as if to say "I don't know who the hell that is smiling and nodding at me, but better not look like I don't remember them!". Sorry!

The show was, essentially, the Vagina Monologues for men. It is well described on its own website and in the forthcoming book. The fact that I saw it again when it came to Newcastle a few weeks later, and the fact that I'm a big Herring fan anyway speaks volumes about my appreciation of the hour-long hilarious and yet thoughtful examination of the male member.

Show: Pea Green Boat
Performed by: Stewart Lee
When: 22:45
Where: Traverse Theatre
Cost: 14.00

If you're going to watch one of a double-act, then you should see the other one too. Admittedly, they are not working as a double-act anymore, but my fondness for them as a pair and as individuals hasn't subsided. It was a pleasure to see Mr Lee performing one of a very small number of shows at the festival.

Pea Green Boat was classic Lee - the sort of intense experience that's not stand-up and isn't really drama. It was very much along the lines of his analysis of "All things bright and beautiful" - analyse something people are familiar with and then use the comedy method of reductio ad absurdem to make it seem completely alien and hilarious. In this case, mix the story in with a bizarre surreal backdrop which seems tangible enough to be a self-portrait of a performer slowly going insane... he's cleverer than I am, so I've no idea if that's what it was about. I enjoyed it nonetheless.

Lee will remain a favourite as long as I get the chance to see him perform. As I was watching him, I kept thinking - "He looks really familiar - like someone I know". I've come to the conclusion that that was because he looks like Stewart Lee... just that I remember him as younger and thinner. Well, age gets to us all.

I had to go and speak to him afterwards - break through that 4th wall. He pretended to remember me after my sickening - nice to see you again... I suppose he must get that a lot!

Show: The Establishment
Performed by: Various
When: 01:00
Where: C Venue

Cost: 5.00

Another trip to the Establishment. I think that this was my last. They were having a comedy competition - hosted by Buckers (Peter Buckley Hill). Every act (and there were plenty) had 5 minutes to perform or they were physically removed from the stage by men in paper suits. The overall winner was Josie - whose material was memorable enough for me still to be laughing at it months later.

Summary

Spent 61.50, saw 7 more shows. At the day's end:

Total spent: 301
Total shows seen: 36

>> Day 7

30 June 2003
Ashley Frieze