Monday, August 24, 2009

A week in Edinburgh

I have just returned from a week at the Edinburgh Festival. The Fringe is a wondrous and eclectic thing, encompassing so many different performances with something for everyone, done by almost everyone. Nevertheless, I do feel there should be a a rule that no one is allowed to perform in white face or wear a basque and wiggle about it in it 'seductively' in the manner of an am-dram 18th century trollop. Top hat wearing should similarly be banned. Enough already!

Basque wearers notwithstanding (and they are not all women let me tell you), there's always something interesting to see as you walk down the Royal Mile, where people desperate to get you into their show press their leaflets in to your hand. Or don't! On the one hand I found myself exasperated by the sheer volume of flyers in my bag and felt compelled to thank the giver and make noises about hoping to see their show 'Antiques Roadshow: The Musical'. Yet I also felt strangely insecure if I noticed someone handing flyers to everyone and then not to me. 'What's wrong with me?' I thought. Am I too old or uncool to see their show? Am I not suitably arty-farty? I'm with my kids, am I too mumsy?

On the whole though I spent the day dodging people with flyers. Some flyers seemed destined for ubiquity, particularly that for Bedales School production of 'Oedipus Rex', even turning up mysteriously in our bathroom. Indeed the whole production haunted me as I bumped into the cast on a daily basis crossing the road on their way to the theatre. It is very odd to see a Greek chorus, Oedipus with blood running down his face and his mum/girlfriend waiting for the green light , looking incongrously fresh and jolly. Having perused their flyer however, I decided I would, ahem, rather poke my own eyes out with a stick than see the play.

It's as much fun watching the potential audience as the players and I found myself idly playing 'what production are you going to?' Visiting a cafe I stood in front of a young man in the queue wearing a Jethro Tull T shirt and sporting the requisite pointy beard. I half expected him to produce a flute and start doing a pixie dance and singing about elven maids etc. No surprise then to discover there was a Terry Pratchett play on round the corner (this last is indicative of my prejudiced view of Jethro Tull fans and should not be taken as an insightful remark although I am right of course).

It was a week of contrasts with highlights including Piff the Magic Dragon doing astonishing magic tricks and making us laugh, Pete Firman's suit, a man doing amazing physical stunts using a hula hoop, Colin Hoult's hilarious surreal comedy and John Otway singing 'Crazy Horses'.

The nadir though was being bullied into shouting 'I is a African!' in response to a particularly cringeworthy rap on evolution. I tried to move my lips as economically as possible and was glad when Flora pronounced herself bored giving me a perfect excuse to slip out. This was closely followed by Flora being concussed by a beam that fell on top of her at a venue. Still it wouldn't be fun if we didn't have at least one thing to moan about although potential serious injury is perhaps going a little far.

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