Posts Tagged ‘ THE CAVES ’


Just An Observation Friday  September 27th


  Today sees the official release of Jon Blair’s interpretation of Irvine Welsh’s so called ‘un-filmable’ novel Filth. Having already seen the film at the Edinburgh premiere, with the author, director and lead actor –James McAvoy- in attendance, I can reliably report that although the first twenty minutes or so do their best to capture this un-filmable quality by being unbearable and occasionally unwatchable it eventually turns a corner and  becomes a far more inspiring and rewarding experience.

 Once settling down into a more coherent narrative to become less shaky, haphazard and disjointed it actually emerges as a good movie. Until this point it falls into that most of annoying of things, a ‘try-hard’ experience’ and although the triumvirate at the centre of its creation warned us before it played that this might be the case, in its early stages it was still something to endure. A full review of the film can be found here.

 There was of course the prerequisite after party in the Caves following the screening and for obvious reasons- the characters Welsh surrounds himself  with in his home city fuel many of his literary characters and in reality many are more colourful than their written about counterparts- I had higher expectations of this than the film. It was however a pleasant experience but brought home that what once would have been a raucous affair probably extending itself over several days was neatly wrapped up and over by midnight.

The most riotous thing to happen all evening was someone being thrown out for smoking upstairs-rock and roll!- and the sight of a twelve year old boy masquerading as James McAvoy before the realisation that said twelve year old was in fact McAvoy himself.

Running around like a pre-pubescent scamp with purloined and illicit cigarette behind his ear it was hard to coalesce the hard core character of the film we had just seen with the diminutive character –in bios he claims to be 5’7’’ which is the same height as me although I have decided by this reckoning I am now 6’2”- scampering round the venue looking aggrieved and harassed. Only his arrogance remained from his screen persona. His young appearance contrasted squarely with most other attendees whose more ‘mature’ approach and behaviour indicated that middle age had caught up with their rock and roll lifestyle or perhaps the fact it was on a Monday evening meant that such behaviour would simply be too disruptive to their well organised and structured weeks. Age catches up with all of us in the end I suppose and in some ways it is a good thing.

 Talking of growing older there has been much discussion this week of the raising of the retirement age to sixty eight. As usual the loudest dissenters would appear to be those in the teaching profession. Although I understand that this is a highly stressed profession- I know this as they never shy away from telling us this at every given opportunity- it can only be more discouraging for a worker in MacDonald’s or some other fast food chain say who is now looking forward to another few years shovelling chips and burgers for an unappreciative clientele who are essentially as faceless and anonymous as they are.

 Personally I reckon I will have to work until I drop and I know several others who are also in this boat and after watching Channel 4’s ‘Fabulous Fashionistas’ last week wherein six women of seventy plus showed us all how good and rewarding growing old can be.  Each and every one of them still works and actually embraces it as a worthwhile thing which goes someway toward keeping them young in their approach. Apart from one former dancer who now teaches dance there was not one teacher among their ranks. Just saying!

 Last week I mentioned I had put my central heating on and am happy to announce that was a temporary measure and a slight rise in temperatures has postponed this need for a week or two yet. It did gladden me however that Labour plans to introduce capping prices on fuel companies in their election manifesto. Other parties should follow suit as the increases introduced over the last few years –which in 2009 and 2010 housed tow of the coldest winters in living memory- were ludicrously high and financially crippling to many households. Matters were not assisted by there not being much of an improvement during the summer months-this year’s heat-wave aside- which often found many reaching for that dreaded heating switch in a bid to keep warm at a time generally considered to be of a more temperate climate.  The fact we live in Scotland never guarantees this however and it will be interesting if this issue raises its head during independence debates.

This weekend sees Neu Reekie 39 light up Summerhall and the last weekend of September. The line up includes Billy Letford, The Wellgreen, Linden, Professor Elektric Al and Pumajaw none of whom I am familiar with so I am expecting to be bombarded with a whole new set of experiences by the end of the evening, I am sure I will not be disappointed.



Just an Observation Saturday 25th August


So the last weekend of the Fringe 2012 is upon us –rather swiftly I must add-and as it will probably not be the one remembered as producing the greatest or most innovative art it may be more fondly remembered as the one where it didn’t rain everyday. In fact it has hardly rained at all and has been unseasonably warm and pleasant. It may also be the year referred to as the one where the whole thing never actually kicked in.

Several factors are being blamed for this not least the Olympics but personally I feel that people have had enough of half arsed shows at full scale prices. Comedy ,in particular, has had a hard year of it-many of the big names played to half full auditoriums and I was offered review tickets, usually refused, with a plus one if I wanted which I never bothered taking- and it is not before time in my opinion. Many of these names can be seen on television on an average weekend peddling the same tired act and stretching it out for an hour is usually beyond most of their capabilities. Therefore twenty quid for a ticket plus about a fiver each drink is just an unnecessary expense not many can afford at the moment. Also I may be old fashioned but I actually like my comedy to be funny and make me laugh rather than just wonder why everyone else finds it all so hysterically funny. Usually I find myself dismissing it as Pinot Grigio comedy for people who really need to get out more.

On the other hand there has been some outstanding dram on offer, Razing Eddie, Big Sean, Mikey and Me, Glory Dazed and Half a Person, My Life as Told by the Smiths are all worthy of your attention if you have time to spare and want to see a show this last weekend. If dance or physical theatre is more your bag then the new production of A Clockwork Orange or Knee Deep are simply stunning pieces of work. My personal favourite act of the Fringe has to be Andy and the Prostitutes who are playing their last two nights in the Phoenix bar in Broughton Street tonight and tomorrow plus an extra show at the Institute in Marchmont tonight at 10pm. Last weeks visit to the Institute precipitated one of the most brilliantly bonkers nights out I have had in ages and captured the true spirit of the Fringe.

Tomorrow the much discussed and controversial OWWO exhibition at Summerhall has an opening to which all are welcome. The exhibition has previously only open to women and due to this fact has been the subject of much debate. I won’t enter into that debate until after I have seen the work but even though I originally had my own misgivings about such a project but having seen the reaction-mostly hostile- I feel that the curator Sarah Wilson made a brave decision by forging ahead with it and it is an interesting concept.

Back to the Fringe then and other things I have noticed including the rudeness which seems to overtake most people’s personalities at this busy time of year. I have been pushed, shoved and moved out of the way by people who-mistakenly- thought they were more important. I have sat in front of someone who answered their phone during a show, carried on a conversation and then turned around to their neighbour and related the contents of that conversation to them. And if this year is to be remembered as the ‘Death of Comedy’ then I only hope next year will be the ‘Death of the Flyer’.

Why in this day and age are we still bombarded with these useless bits of cardboard so relentlessly? I was waiting in the Pleasance one afternoon-queuing seemed to consume at least one third of my time in August- when I was approached and offered a flyer which I refused but was then told they would just put it on the table in case I changed my mind. Within thirty seconds another employee came up with a binbag and asked if I wanted the flyer I had just refused. When I responded that no I didn’t she picked it up along with all the others which had been left lying and shoved it onto her refuse sack. A pretty pointless exercise-and total waste of money- to have someone follow someone else around clearing away flyers which people have already said they didn’t want.

Now that the Fringe is over and Edinburgh settles back into being itself there are still some worthwhile things going on. The Picasso exhibition at the Scottish Nationa Gallery is a definite must see and so much more enjoyable now that a large proportion of tourists have departed. Also this week there is the last Neu! Reekie night at the Scottish Book Trust and after this it will relocate to a new base in the burgeoning Summerhall complex. It is sure to be an emotional night as it is an event which has grown over its duration mainly through word of mouth and by attracting a coterie of individual and like minded souls.

As for my last weekend of the Fringe I have the Andy and The Prostitutes gig tonight followed by a showing of The Audition-both at The Institute. Then tomorrow the OWWO exhibition at Summerhall followed by two parties is on the agenda. After that it is a couple of days of decompression before preparing for the Autumn round of events. There is also the return of the X-Crutiating factor for me to express my weekly disgust and disdain for the lowest form of human life known to man in the entertainment industry. Bring it on!


 Sunday August 12th


Well that is the first ten days or so of the Fringe done and dusted then. So far the most amazing thing is that it has been remarkably dry since last weekend with days which could even be described as summery. The rain has stayed away since last Monday night when I was making my way to a show about the Smiths and all that was going through my head was the lyric ‘The rain fell down on a humdrum town’. The show in question Half a Person, My Life as Told by the Smiths was, fortunately, emotionally stirring, thought provoking and concise. It even made me forget the dampness of my drenched clothes and at one point brought me close to tears and this is no mean feat. Especially within the world of live theatre when emotional intensity usually loses its intimacy due to the exaggerated medium necessary to appeal to an audience who don’t have the advantage of camera close ups. A full review can be found here.

Other five star shows-full reviews can be found by clicking on the name of the shows in question- are the inestimable talents of beat-boxer Tom Thum, the intense drama of Glory Dazed and if a good night out with friends is required then The Boom Boom Club is a night out like no other. Featuring fire-eating strippers, wedding ceremonies blessed by a dildo, a hula hoping slinky and a forty five minute cabaret show it will have you wondering what is part of the act and what is not. This , of course, is half the fun and my companion and I spent several minutes watching someone sweep glitter from the stage convinced he was about to do something outrageous. When he didn’t-sweeping the floor was all he was there to do- we merely turned around to be distracted by some other happening. It is a bonkers night out and for anyone who complains that a good night out in Edinburgh is hard to find then I suggest you re-consider spending twenty quid to watch a DJ who has been around since the Jurassic era and get yourself along to this.

Not far behind these shows are Marcel Lucont’s Gallic Symbol show, a great show about Oliver ReedWild Thing-, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, An Audience with the Duke of Windsor, Bitch Boxer and  the scattergun musings and rants of Josie Long.

Slightly missing the mark-though they may have improved since I saw them- are Loretta Maine’s Bipolar and Sammy J and Randy which are both shows I had high hopes for but unfortunately both fell a little short of expectations. Beyond hope though, I fear, is Confessions of  a Grindr Addict which was very definitely a grind. This was disappointing as I feel the subject has great dramatic value and interest-especially with the recent crashing of the site due to overuse when the Olympic athletes all descended on London and started downloading/using the app.- unfortunately this show is not the one to bring these values to fruition.

Talking of the Olympics, most of them have passed me by although I did get emotional last night when Tom Daley won a bronze model-what is it with me and emotion at the moment? A transient phase or fad I hope- and am beyond hyper excited at the prospect that Kate Bush ‘might’ be performing ‘Running up that Hill’ live- her first live performance since 1979- at the closing ceremony. This would be an amazing coup and the reclusive singer would satisfy several generations of fans by simply being there. As I write this I am listening to the perennial classic ‘Hounds of Love’ album very loud. The thing I love most about Kate Bush-apart from the obvious genius she possesses- is the way that when you listen to her you actually enter in to her universe to inhabit a world she has created for you. She is just so unstarry whilst being a huge star in possession of a gargantuan talent and this is re-assuring in these days of reality TV non-entities and wannabes who possess little ,if any, talent whatsoever.  I may be induced to sit through the whole proceedings just for this one moment alone.

The Olympics are also bearing the brunt of the blame for the Fringe being quieter than usual. It is noticeably quieter on the streets compared to the last few years and many venues are expecting it to pick up after the Olympics are over. The good weather also contributes to the more relaxed atmosphere as usually the rain forces everyone to rush to where they are going pushing past anyone who gets in their way. Or perhaps that is just me!

Manners do, by tradition, take a back seat around this time of year in Edinburgh as everyone considers their route to be the most important and anyone in their way merely an inconvenience. Spending a substantial part of my day waiting in queues has admittedly tried my patience on several occasions- I am not renowned for my patience at the best of times-but at least it is not raining.

Today sees a drama about Agatha Christie’s Marple and the big screens most enduring image of her as portrayed by Margaret Rutherford. This is followed by Australian comic Asher Treleaver. The rest of the week includes another show based on the Smiths –Unhappy Birthday- an adaptation of A Clockwork Orange, dramas about Tony Hancock and Tommy Sheridan as well as a promising show by Edinburgh veteran Ruaraidh Murray called Big Sean, Mikey and Me. I have sensibly decided to round the week off on Friday evening- I avoid reviewing shows at the weekend as it is too busy- with Fringe stalwarts and super-fun megastars Frisky and Mannish who never fail to impress.

Also on the agenda this week is the first ever Edinburgh International Fashion Festival and I am looking forward to the opening launch party on Wednesday at Summerhall.  Showing nightly at the Institute  is Gavin Evans’s short film The Audition featuring Oliver Reed,  Daniel Craig Samuel .L. Jackson and about twenty five other major A-list stars . The venue also houses his much discussed and controversial ‘Naked Touch’ exhibition. It is free entry and the film screens every night at 10pm. Apart from that it is work all the way so off out for a dose of murder in the form of Marple. Perfect Sunday afternoon entertainment suited to my tweeds and brogues!


Loretta Maine:Bipolar Just The Tonic at The Caves 6pm until August 26th


Taking to the stage the trailer trash country and western Courtney Love is resplendent in her raggedy, deshabille style. All black panda eyes, dragged through a hedge several times hair, and an expression which somehow incorporates a smile, grimace, scowl, sneer and stare all at the same time Pippa Evans’s alter ego makes a commanding stage presence. Accompanied by her band, Penis Envy, Maine launches into her opening number Bipolar withgusto andverve offering it up as a statement of intent. It is an impressive opening and as one of my favourite acts from the Fringe in 2010 all bodes well, on initial inspection, for this show.

Unfortunately the show does not maintain this momentum and is nowhere as nearly coherent as her last offering. It is still highly entertaining nevertheless and Evans knows how to hold the audience in her enthral. Usually by scaring the shit out of them but at other times by simply having a commanding stage presence and it is her presence which this show hinges on as occasionally her material does not meet the high bar she has set herself.

The usual subjects are grist for the mill however and these include her drinking, family issues, failed relationships and of course being bipolar which Maine suffered from long before it became trendy in celebrity circles. It is perhaps because she is treading water from her last show here that the material does not measure up as it has not evolved. Not that the trailer trash diva she is portraying was ever likely to evolve and those seeing her act for the first time can hardly fail to be impressed. Unfortunately anyone who saw her act before may be a little disappointed-as I was- as it seems a little tired in format. Loretta is still the same cheap white wine swilling foul mouthed vixen she always was but I can’t help feeling Evans could have dome more with the character rather than allow her to fall into cliché and repetition.

The songs are great however and ,as before, brilliantly titled’ ‘I am Sixteen if You Want Me to be’ and ‘White Wine Witches’ are just two such titles and a dance track about Barbie was a  welcome addition to the show. Evans has created a great character in Loretta Maine and if you have not seen her before then I recommend you catch the act. If you have seen her before then it is highly probable that you may be let down by this years model.