Edinburgh Fringe 2014

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The Edinburgh Festival amalgates multiple sort-of independent festivals during August month. The original festival is the Edinburgh Festival. And then the Fringe Festival is the fringe event of that festival. A book festival is stoved away in the middle of Edinburgh. And the 152nd International Photographic Exhibition appears in Great King Street. The official book for the Fringe is over 400 pages long.

Going in the dense area of Edinburgh you will invariably get fliers for all sorts of performances: Shakespeare was there at venue 54 but didn’t see him; Crtl-Alt-Sketch was rescheduled to 8:30 PM and contained catty porn; Kurakuraw is the first and best known Taiwan contemporary indigenous dance theatre – and “deeply touching” according to the Scotsman; while Feng Dance Theatre’s Kid Box  is a “fantastic realm of language visual arts drama, installations, singing and dancing” and James Loverige is simply just “funny because it’s true”. Other acts are “impressive and hilarious”, “deliciously farcical” or contain “wonderful, terrific, life-affirming stuff.” The New Celts are also there with The Magic Egg and Lace Up in 36. There is also the show that “transcends the stage”. These were some of the fliers I was handed.

Here are the acts I ran into in 2014:

Made in ILVA – The Contemporary Hermit in the Summerhall venue was a one-man theatre performance from an Italian theatre company called Instabili Vaganti. Indeed he worked for it in this piece that primarily stood out with the physical performance, supported by the monologue in English. The single man used his body in repetitive machine-like movements in a spare scenography. As he was coming to the end his shirt was dripping wet and when he threw it on the floor a “smash” sounded through the room. A promotional video does not quite give justification for the performance.

James III: We didn’t manage to buy tickets to James III playing at the non-fringe part of the festival. But standing at the ticket office we must have looked sufficiently confused and innocent to get handed over two tickets by a couple for free! Thanks, very much” From a Danish point of view this particular piece was of interest as Sofie Gråbøl had a part in the play as the queen. With her monologue in the final scene she provided the theatrical highpoint of the show. Whereas Fringe shows typical last an hour, this non-Fringe piece lasted several hours with a break in the middle. Good but not dangerous.

Shazia Mirza provides deadpan humor based on her British-Pakistani background. We got £10 seats for the show, Bulletproof, playing in The Assembly Rooms in the late afternoon at 17:15. The joke I remember from the show was a remark to the Guardian-like audience. She is apparently on again for the 2015 edition of the Fringe trying out new material.

We lost a show because we did not manage to get there in time. Parking in Edinburgh during festival time is not an easy task.

Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall had a show called Success Arms at Underbelly Cowgate that I did not see. But I did see a free afternoon show Alasdair Lists Everything, a whimsical minimalistic endless monologue of pure words. For a whole hour! Interestingly, he manages to associate quite freely, an amazing capability. See an examples here: “Crafting a really nice pancake”, “Coffee table smell”, …

The Warriors: A Love Story was traditional modern dance with multimedia, with a theme around the bombing of Dresden.

Looking for Paul – Wunderbaum provided one-of-a-kind show: Labeled as “performance art, multimedia” it started out with Inez van Dam, apparently a young respectable Rotterdam bookshop owner and not quite comfortable on the stage. She complained about a sculpture put outside her window, the Buttplug Gnome of Paul McCarthy. This part of the show appeared like some kind of slide show, public hearing, theatrical documentary, mockumentary or explanation of the making of a documentary where the actors join in as characters in a theatre company. Wanting to confront Mr McCarthy – or at least they tell us so – they go to Los Angeles taking Inez along, but then the preparation for the play or a play apparently goes wrong. The rest is transgressive theatre – inspired by the perpetrator McCarthy. A playful narrative, to such an extent that I am still not sure about Inez van Dam and what is fiction and fact and what is satire and not. Well done, Holland!

We managed to find some good late night standup in a cellar in Queen Street I believe. One gay did gay humor and one women did jokes about her washing machine. Good ol’ fashion standup.

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, somewhat away from center, featured a disappointing exhibition of some forgettable sort.

For a good intro to Edinburgh Fringe from a comedian as a Danish reader you can try Sofie Hagen’s Mærkelige ting: Om at være på Edinburgh Festival. She is doing a show called Bubblewrap in 2015.

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