JUST AN OBSERVATION
Thursday August 2nd
So round one of the free parties, launches and extended drinking binges- offered up by press offices as a means of lowering your inhibitions and agreeing to view their shows before and above all others- is over. Four such events cluttered up my diary yesterday and at least three are on my list for today. At this rate I will be hanging my liver put to dry by Friday morning, when I am supposed to be in a fit state to start the actual job of reviewing shows. Actually that chore begins tonight after the Gilded Ballon launch when –after the persistence of a particularly insistent PR- I have agreed to go and see comedian Joel Dommett. He will either be uproariously funny- after consuming several gin cocktails what isn’t?- or else I will sober up resulting in grumpiness or, worse, fall asleep.
Yesterday’s round of parties started off in relatively civilised style with a glass of champagne accompanied by afternoon tea in the Balmoral Hotel. Delicious sandwiches, mini raspberry tarts, scones and chocolate cake all provided a more than pleasant start to the afternoon. It was all in aid of promoting a company called I say dead posh productions and their production of Noel Coward’s Still Life ( Brief Encounter) which I am viewing next Tuesday (even more persuasive than a shed-load of alcohol I am a sucker for a high tea).
Next up was a short visit to the Caves- the change in surroundings from the elegant opulent private suite in the Balmoral Hotel could not have been more pronounced- where a few acts begged for attention and Loretta Maine managed to attain it. One of my favourite acts of 2010 Pippa Evans’s alter-ego-imagine an ever trailer trashier and more deranged Courtney Love- is back with her new show Bipolar and I feel this is one not to be missed.
It was then a quick dash –avoiding the inevitable rain which I had predicted an hour before and which then arrived on cue- to the Underbelly where in addition to the usual offerings of free wine, beer and cider they had thoughtfully set up a Pimms stall which more than suited me. The show was hosted by Richard Herring-on my list for this weekend- who handled his job admirably even when technical hitches called on him to improvise extensively.
The stand out act was unquestionably Tom Thum formerly of the Tom Tom Crew-my Saturday night taken care of- and his amazing beat-boxing skills. Before he was due on stage I was in the toilets and heard all manner of strange rumbling ,gurglings and inhuman sounds and convinced the whole plumbing system was backing up on itself rushed out only to find it was the erstwhile human sound machine doing the beatbox version of vocal exercises and practising his scales. His is definitely another show to catch and on in the Udderbelly every evening at 6.45.
After this it was over to the Assembly to be plied with yet more alcohol- I have since forgotten exactly what but it was free- and yet another showcase before having to make a mad dash down to the Assembly Rooms and the grand unveiling of the vastly refurbished venue and their Prosecco fuelled party.
The venue is indeed amazing and where previously it was dark, dingy and in need of repair-the inevitable smell of wet tourists and festival goers only contributed to its rundown lack of appeal- there is now light, brightness and the shiny and new. The prosecco cocktail spritzers were delicious and the additional orange liqueur coloured them a vibrant shade of tangerine which nearly rivalled the fake tans of the serving staff as well as the new paint job for brightness.
By this point I had had enough and could not be bothered hanging around for another showcase as I have at least three of these events to go to today. Later on tonight, as mentioned previously, I have a a show to attend and, of course, in the likelihood any alcohol passes my lips- it certainly won’t for the duration of the festival after today- it will be in moderation guaranteeing my review will be written from a totally sober and impartial point of view. Out again into the breech then!