Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015
Well, I’m battered, bruised, exhausted and teetering on the edge of scurvy. I must be on the way home from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Seven days of running from show to show, sipping pints in plastic cups whilst laughing hysterically and my eyes filling with tears of wonder at the performances, catching up with old friends into the early hours of the morning and spending time with my family.
So here’s how it went down this year. It’s a long one, so grab a mug of tea (cold glass of gin) and let’s tango.
Luke Wright- Stay At Home Dandy at the Underbelly- Luke Wright is one of the spoken word young dudes who is currently making waves amongst the poetry circles (I was very much mourning the absence of Mark Grist at this year’s fringe. HE’S MY FAVE), and this pacy, punchy show provided the audience with an insight into his life as a stay at home Dad yet eternal dandy, wearing eyeliner on the school run and dreaming of rock star glory days.
Velvet- La Clique at the Famous Spiegeltent– Despite seeing this brilliant variety cabaret and circus show for a few years running and always being blown away, this year felt decidedly lazy. The performers were no doubt very talented but they’d done away with a live band and instead had three mismatched singers belting out 70’s classics which felt like glorified karaoke. A real shame.
Rhys James- Remains at Pleasance Courtyard- Rhys is a fiercely intelligent young comic who’s blend of comedy and poetry just get stronger and stronger and funnier and funnier year on year. He EVEN made it as the Guardian’s Number 1 Funniest Joke of the Fringe this year. He’s also a life long friend of my brother and played a mean Oliver Twist against my brother’s Artful Dodger when they were 9, but that’s another story. Without doubt, the best stand-up I saw this fringe.
Barbu- at Underbelly Circus Hub- The Circus Hub on The Meadows is a spectacular addition to the Underbelly’s map of venues. Housed in a huge igloo shaped tent, it’s vast inside and the perfect place for the cream of the circus crop to come and flaunt their talents. And there certainly was, ahem, ‘talent’ flaunting in this offering from Canadian troupe Cirque Alfonse. Big, bearded, strapping chaps in very small pants (which occasionally went awry…) flinging around beer kegs, doing illegal things on rollerskates, passing round shots to the audience, and generally being excellent and sexual. SEXCELLENT MORE LIKE.
Ross and Rachel at Assembly George Square- An astonishing new play performed beautifully by Molly Vevers. Examining the concept of a couple who are ‘meant to be’ together, whose lives are so intertwined that you can’t say one’s name without the other and what that means for the individual. Tell you what, made me bloody appreciate being single for a good hour. SOLID.
Kraken at Underbelly Cowgate- Second installment of expert mime Trygve Wakenshaw (go on, try and say that when you’re smashed I dare ya) was a real stand-out. Utterly hilarious, he takes the audience on a journey through unicorns, striptease, birthing baby elephants, feeding time in a birds nest and weightlifting. Playful, extremely clever and thorough entertaining.
Giraffe- Raisin’ the Hoof at Underbelly Cowgate- Silly, slick and pacy sketch comedy from Giraffe this year. A joyful way to spend an hour. The Oxfam witches were a particular highlight.
The Flying Ship- Popinjay Productions at Greenside- Lovely storytelling by this bunch of Year Out Drama graduates. Inventive ideas, gentle jokes and some gorgeous harmonic singing. Glorious way to kick off the day!
Adam Hess- Salmon at The Hive- This guy’s comedy goes a million miles a minute, barely pausing for breath whilst he tells tales of his unfortunate mishaps trying to impress girls and how he attended Brownies as a young boy. VERY funny. VERY FUNNY INDEED. Also his twitter is well worth a follow for a good lol. DO IT.
Tim Key- Work in Slutgress- at Pleasance Courtyard- Dependably funny quips and poetry from one of my faves strutting about in a shirt, tie and red tracksuit, though in my humble opinion his shows are better when they’re finished and more theatrical. Still well worth a watch though.
Institute by Gecko Theatre at Pleasance Courtyard- Absolute knockout from incredible physical theatre company Gecko. I think everyone who watches a Gecko production interprets it completely differently. I understood this show as what it’s like to suffer mental health issues in a modern, high pressure world, what it’s like to deal with the highs and lows of careers and love and loss. HEAVY. But stunning.
Blam! at Pleasance Courtyard- The tagline for this show is ‘Die Hard meets The Office’. And that’s what it is. Three guys bored at work turn their mundane day into a high energy and action pastiche of every big action movie you could ever think of. It’s bonkers. And brilliant.
Beasts- Live DVD at Pleasance Courtyard- Silly, loud, sweary sketch comedy from these three, who use their tried and tested structural framework to stand out from the sketch crowd, encasing their sketches within a larger context of a situation or story, this time it being them filming a DVD of their sketches to send to Hollywood. Also if the twinkly burly Irish chap Ciaran could realise I am the woman for him sometime soon, that would be greaaaat.
Pajama Men- Two Men, Three Musketeers- at Assembly Roxy. Totally absurd storytelling from these two pajama-ed masters of accents, voices and physical comedy. Total nonsense, totally hilarious.
Nautilus at Pleasance Courtyard- On the strength of Kraken, we decided to catch the follow-up show Nautilus, which was more of the same mime/physical comedy from Mr Wakenshaw but sadly this one fell short. It’s 90 minutes long, which is LOOONNNNGGGGG for fringe, and it just wasn’t as tight and slick as Kraken. Some great moments, but generally Kraken is a far superior show.
Every Brilliant Thing at Roundabout, Summerhall- JUST SO BEAUTIFUL. One chap’s struggle to cope with depression by attempting to list every brilliant thing in the world. It’s such a gorgeous show, beautifully pitched with just the right tone between funny, poignant and totally uplifting. It has made me want to start my own list of brilliant things to read and sift through when I’m feeling glum. I WILL. And the first entry will read: 1. The play Every Brilliant Thing.
The Beau Zeaux at Pleasance Courtyard- confident improvised comedy with stand-out performances from Pippa Evans and Milly Thomas. Improv terrifies the tits off me, so I am ALWAYS in total awe of people who can stand there and confidently do it without panicking or giggling i.e me.
The Horne Section’s Question Sessions at The Gilded Balloon- I religiously see the Horne Section every fringe, their mix of comedy and special guests blended with an extremely talented band is always great and reliably brilliant. However this year, much like La Clique, it felt extremely lazy. The show is now a pointless quiz show and was just generally not very funny, even with BNOC (Big Name On Campus) names like Dara O’Briain providing turns. Again, a real shame.
Tubular Bells for Two at Pleasance Courtyard- Two blokes, a fuck tonne of instruments and one iconic album played verbatim. A TRUE tour de force. I LOVE TUBULAR BELLS. Especially the bits where all the instruments are announced. MANDOLINNNN.
Fills Monkey at Pleasance Courtyard- AH THIS WAS SICKKKKKKKK. Two french blokes bashing the shit out of their drum kits and creating incredible rhythmic sets with pipes, tennis balls, their own bodies, ping pong bats JUST ANYTHING THEY COULD FIND and it was funny and creative and original and brilliant. YES REALLY GOOD. BANG BANG I WANNA BE A DRUMMER.
Limbo at Underbelly Circus Hub- Big, breathtaking, sexy circus. Topless tap dancers, fire-eaters, sword swallowers (oh for that lack of gag reflex tho (sorry Mum)) and an incredible sequence on sway poles that had the entire audience on the edge of their seats. A HUNDRED PER CENT YES.
Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho– at Assembly George Square. The perfect midnight show to end the fringe. Bitchy, brilliant drag which tells the story of how Ms Thatcher became the icon of gay rights after taking a wrong turn and finding herself singing ‘It’s Raining Men’ in a Soho dive at the height of her power. JUST HYSTERICAL AND GLORIOUS.
AND THE REST
Well, I mean as per at the Fringe we drank our heads off.
We glugged cabaret inspired gin cocktails in the St Andrews Square Gardens which was particularly exciting for Mr Atkins as me as we’re in the midst of writing our new show…keep 12th November free if you like fun and laughing and life):
Ifelt like a student again prising my feet off the sticky floor and downing Buckie Bombs in Opium and The Hive.
experimented with Belgian cherry beer and Icelandic ale in The Brauhaus and saw off many pints of cider in plastic pint glasses in venues all over the city.
We ate plates of steaming bangers and mash in Mum’s, Indian style tapas at celeb chef Tony Singh’s pop-up, slabs of steak at The Buffalo Grill, delicate sushi and gingery noodles at Tang’s and many a late night portion of chips, cheese and gravy from the incomparable Castle Rock Takeaway (god forgive me all my sins).
Oh, and I met Neville Longbottom. And I was pretty chill about it. (was not chill about it at all, sorry Matthew Dave Lewis and also marry me thanks bye)
Another incredible jaunt to the Fringe. Thank you Edinburgh. Until next time, you saucy mistress.