The Fringe experience

Time booked of work? Check!
Hotel booked ? Check!
Vegan survival kit (Ahem picnic) packed? Check!
Fringe program read? …. erm, Not yet!

Monday 12th
I arrived at the hotel just after check in, a little air conditioned box room with a big comfy double bed, Bliss. I tossed my clothes and toiletries in the drawers and hurriedly spruced up, eager to take myself and my friends camera around the beautiful city. The first thing I did was visit the kirk tron as I love music, free stuff and beautiful venues. I stayed here for a while basking in meaningful lyrics, beautiful voices and unusual instruments. Upon my annual evening wonder, I was handed a leaflet by the wonderful Abigoliah as she stated “you look like my demographic” which was confirmed by reading the leaflet describing the show as ‘punk rock comedy’. I immediately sauntered over to cowgate knowing I would stumble upon some free comedy with a bar to fill the gap and ended up in the dram house laughing like a wild hyena at Ben Norris. Much like myself, Norris is an atheist and a cynic with a very logical view of the world and life who playfully teases the audience but never intentionally offends for cheap laughs. As Norris’ act was coming to a close on the topic of atheism a perfectly timed choir chimed in with hymns from next door, An hilarious ending to an hilarious show.

I then took my tipsy self to satisfy my curiosity of Abigoliah, and she didn’t disappoint! I mean any lady that sets her hand on fire, eats a lightbulb and openly jokes about her indulgences of sex and food whilst standing there with a ‘short back and sides’ shaved haircut and wearing a dress is a fucking winner. Not only do I find Abigoliah’s approach to femininity refreshing but I love the way she confronts what could be deemed as masculine traits, as portrayed in one of my favorite quotes:
“You don’t get hair like this without licking a little pussy, that’s science!”
Abigoliah is crude, funny and shockingly honest….I love her.

Tuesday 13th
I planned to see as many street perfomances as possible whilst looking for shows to watch as they are the sticking memory of my first fringe experience 4 years ago and a big part of what made me fall in love with the festival. I decided earlier that day that I would revisit one of my favorite from previous years; the Mechanisms as they are wonderful and had a whole new show this year. At 17:30 I headed to the whynot venue where I was once again captivated by the story and swept away by the haunting yet beautiful music. The members often portrayed a few different characters and each one was really defined and every word they spoke had you there with them at the scene they painted for you.

This is a picture I took from last years show.

Wednesday 14th
I decided that today was the day to see some magic and after trawling though the guide I settled on David Alnwick and this guy is phenomenal! He’s Derren Brown disguised as a nerd; masquerading in superhero tee-shirts, ginger hair and glasses. Alnwick is mesmerising with endless talent, skills and tricks, There was some of the usual card reading and guessing the names of friends that had been written down (Seen before but impressive none the less) but also some surprising song playing extracted from the minds of strangers who had read the song we had been asked to write on the way in. This was a very interactive show and many of the audience managed to have an experience including one guy who tried to outwit David’s power of Extrasensory perception but the entire pattern of which the audience member selected the cards was not only correct but the decision explained (All bar one but shhh). The show ended in the most extraordinary way, I’d tell you but I am not one to post spoilers! See this show for yourself, I guarantee you’ll not be disappointed. (not only is he a complete ninja wizard but the dude uses his powers for good! Check out this article where he stalls some thieves with trickery!)
After lunching at my favourite vegan restaurant (The baked potato) in Edinburgh, I spent the afternoon back in the banshee labyrinth and was invited into the life of Charmian Hughes.
Eager to visit my Aunty and her partner Karen, I hopped on a bus armed with their favourite desert of raspberries and cream. I got off the bus a few stops early to venture round Morningside before going up the several flights of stairs to the beautiful flat. Immediately greeted with hugs and homemade mojito’s we began talking about anything and everything whilst eating the most delicious meal (Both my aunt and Karen are incredible cooks) The conversation continued until it went dark and I realised I was late for the rocky horror themed night at my 2nd favourite pub in Edinburgh – The Frankenstein pub. This would be my second visit to the Rocky Horror evening, As I happen to be a big fan of the film. The evening was incredible, beer was drunk, songs were sung, a Frankenfurter walked the bar.

Thursday 15th
As a fan of irony I was instantly attracted to The worst show of the fringe. I love the concept of this, which was basically a bunch of comedians who had at one point in their career earned a 1 star review, like others who had later gone on to be successful. It just goes to show that not all reviews are accurate, comedians can have off days (They are human) and everyone has different opinions.The acts included Peter Buckley Hill: ‘Father of the free fringe’ Who performed first. His act was witty, sharp and pun heavy which was mainly sang accompanied by an acoustic guitar. I was suprised when the second act turned out to be Charmian Hughes, the lady who’s show i’d seen a day earlier, Hughes is a great standup with a cheeky sense of humor!
The highlight of the week was a show called Circa, I can’t really begin to put into words how incredible and stunning this show, so here’s a youtube clip of them practicing
These people are skilled to an inhuman level; their balance, precision and agility is something to be marvelled.

Another look through the festival program had me back at the banshee labyrinth to watch ‘I’m sorry I haven’t Haiku’ with the promise of alcohol and poetry. This was wonderful and some wonderfully imaginative poems from the contestants which inspired me to write a couple of my own. (Which I will put into a blog of their own and add here). During totally ninja, a play was plugged and leaflets handed out for a comical zombie play, obviously I was heading to café camino to indulge in this!
the first play was ‘The brief afterlife of Reginald Tanner’ which was wonderful and I really enjoyed it. The performance had a satirical view of modern day society and how people are being controlled by the government and lied to by politicians, even when they have been brought back from the dead! It had a very raw undertone of a guy who was aware he had wasted his life but didn’t really intend to change because he is the first human to be brought back from the dead, Not even if his (After)life depends on it! “Well if I have an hour left I’m sure I could fit in an episode of the wire or maybe 2 family guys”. This made me laugh yet made me question how the modern world works. I grabbed a coffee and stayed to watch the second ‘undead’ play of the evening: No names. This was co-written by the very David Alnwick I praised earlier and I continue to love his work! Two contrasting characters bond during a lonely apocalyptic setting, where the living are outnumbered. The humour is dark but clever (so there’s no guilty laughs) whilst the characters unveil their secrets in what could be their final moments during the zombie outbreak.

I then returned to the hotel to gather my things in preparation for the morning, I was very sad this was my last evening. The next morning I headed off to Blackpool for some peace and quiet (Edinburgh was very busy!) before retuning to Manchester and work, naturally I’m already looking forward to Fringe 2014!!

Rachel Hodson (Skatanico)

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