JUST AN OBSERVATION

Monday August 6th

 

Well that is the first weekend of the Fringe out the way then. If anyone has the audacity to claim –as someone always does- that this is the busiest year yet then I can guarantee they are lying. I was out last night in the centre of town, on a night that traditionally is hectic, and it was like a ghost town or any other Sunday night in Edinburgh at least. Bars with 3am licenses were struggling to keep their staff busy until 1am. Clubs were a bit better but hardly rammed to breaking point and taxis-usually rarer than hens teeth during the Fringe- were lined up at ranks and the driver of the one I eventually took home complained how dead it had been.

The Olympics has something to do with this state of affairs and many venue managers are insisting that once they are over many Londoners may migrate here for the rest of August as tradition dictates. The quietness is not totally a bad thing as instead of a mad influx, which leaves the residents feeling as if they have been invaded in some sort of coup, they now have more time to adapt and once the rest of the interlopers descend it will perhaps be less of a shock. It also means that the last week which is traditionally quieter-often it feels like the end of the party when everything is a little frayed and torn- may this year be busier and garner the event with the finale it actually deserves as opposed to the usual dying whimper. It also means that many of the shows get longer to cut their teeth on audiences and fine-tune their productions.

As for the shows themselves, so far they have ranged from the excellent to the slightly average. Top of my list to see so far has to be a drama called Glory Dazed at the Underbelly(review here), amazing beatboxing sensation Tom Thum at the Udderbelly (review here) and Bitch Boxer also at the Underbelly(review here). Not far behind is Martin Dockery’s Wanderlust (here) at the Gilded Balloon and Dana Alexander’s Breaking Through(here) which is a great show if a little too short for many who measure their comedy by the minutes rather than the laughs.

The big disappointment, for me, though has been The Boy with Tape on his Face: More Tape which to me is a case of ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’. Through the shows duration-which felt like a half hearted variety act with the gimmick of having duct tape plastered over the performers mouth  for added quirkiness- I wondered if my sense of humour and taste had been supplanted elsewhere to the rest of the audience who whooped, hollered and shrieked their appreciation at every underwhelming antic playing out on the stage. I feel that as I attended on a Saturday night that perhaps many of the audience were of the ‘don’t get out often enough’ variety. Their excitement queuing to get into the venue was palpable, so before the show had started they were prepared to love whatever was served up, as press and word of mouth have hyped this show into the prestigious Pleasance Grand. Perhaps it will appeal to the more mainstream audience but anyone looking for something edgy, thought provoking or simply beyond banal puerile humour then I suggest you seek elsewhere. My critical appraisal can be found here.

Tonight I have Loretta Maine’s Bipolar lined up and I am expecting big things from this one. Pippa Evans’s trailer trash alter ego was among my very favourites of 2010 and I am hoping she has maintained this high standard. Also on my agenda is Half Person My Life as Told by the Smiths which is-strangely enough- about a Smiths obsessive who relates events in his life through that great band’s lyrics. The Smiths –or more specifically Morrissey- are quite a theme this year as a play called Unhappy Birthday, which I am viewing tomorrow. also features a Smiths theme. It may all have been kicked off by the former frontman’s allegedly great show- I gave it a miss this time around- at the Usher Hall last week

Also opening today is photographer Gavin Evans’s new exhibition at the Instutute in Marchmont featuring fifty naked models in poses chosen by them with the artists arm in the photo as their only prop. This exhibition is well worth checking out and the preview last night was probably the busiest event in town and was rapturously received so it looks like being a big hit on this years Fringe. A full profile of Evans, the exhibition and other events at the venue can be found here.

That is it for today and reviews for today’s shows will be posted early tomorrow. Off out into what probably won’t be a manic Monday.

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