I have seen a good deal of life in Edinburgh, a great many characters
which are new, to one bred up in the shades of life as I have been
Shows – 51
Hangovers – 5
This morning I popped round to Donna’s pad with mi pen & paper to take notes for her review of OUT OF ABINGDON. Seeing as it was such a sunny day & she had the day off, she’d decided to hit the charity shops down Stockbridge. This gave me the perfect oppurtunity to check out the recently opened JUNGLE CITY exhibition at the BOTANICAL GARDENS. For the next few weeks Edinburgh’s most gorgeous greenery is playing host to a large host of tigers, orang-utangs, crocodiles & an exotic parrot-thing, each one a plastic canvas for the artists of Scotland. There were some very interesting creations, from the Orang Utang made out of postcards to the chequerboard, plastic tubed crocoldiel. A neat move is that they are all standing on wooden boxes marked fragile – a clever nod towards their endangered status. The idea is that they will be moved into spots around town in September, & a month later be auctioned off to raise funds for the preservation of the real things. Me & Donna had a great half hour walking among them, & some of the aesthetics were top notch. Funnily enough there was as Celtic & a Rangers tiger, which shows how sectarianism seeps into every facet of the Scottish psyche
From there we hit the affluence of Stockbridge, which feels refreshingly normal considering whats happening in the centre of town. While I read thro a book on Minoan Crete in the very fine Oxfam bookshop, Donna bought 3 pretty dresses for £21, & you could tell our recent brush with the visual arts had inspired her choices. From Stockbridge we walked up into town, pausing on teh Mound to soak in teh atmosphere. Its quite a hub of Fringe traffic, with queues for the Virgin half-price ticket booth blending with crowds ringing the two free entertainment sectors. After this square area one is chanelled along a narrow passage, with the national gallery on one side & a row of stalls on the other. These sell all manner of ethnic goods, from stone carvings to photographs of Edinburgh, & are always bustling with ladies bending their backs to get a better look.
After the passageway we ascended the hunchback of the Old Town to descend into a busker-friendly Grassmarket. Of these ephemeral entertainers, these two young guys, THE SHOWHAWK DUO, were the most amenable.
We now settled down at THE BEEHIVE INN, watching the buskers over a couple of beers. The place does have the best beer garden in Edinburgh, but when you can listen to top music & people watch why bother. As we had a bit of time to kill before TWONKEY’S CASTLE, we thought we’d check out a couple of the Beehive’s free shows. The first was DAVID LEE NELSON’S STATUS UPDATE (5-28 /15.45), a hybrid affair of stand-up comedy & an angsty video diary about breaking up with his wife. One minute I’m flung into the world of American comedy clubs (jokes about hockey, blacks, pot & sucking dick for pot), while the next I’m squelching around without mi wellies in the tears of his soul. It was good fun ‘n’ all but I was thinking to myself, get over it lad, she’s not coming back. I think he’s realised this though, for after seeing a facebook photo of her with a guy with a handlebar moustache, he took the moral highground & actually deleted her from his friends. Well done that man!
Next up was the DRAWABAOUT (15-20, 22-27 17.00) which is partly run by CRESSIDA BROWN, who I’d met the other day. I thought she wasn’t doing a show, & I guess she’s not really, for the Drawabout is something else alltogether. The ‘punters’ meet outside the Beehive & are presented with a board full of sketch paper, a trolley full of pencils & felt-tips, a genial leader of the troupe & a guitar wielding troubador. The idea is that the leader finds members of the public who are willing to be sketched for a few minutes, & while we’re sketching them the leader asks about the lives, which the troubador will then improvise a song about. Then we all show our sketches, slightly competitively, to the model(s), who then chooses one to take home. It was a great laugh, & challenging too, & despite me nor Donna ‘winning’ we throroughly enjoyed the hour. Interstingly enough, after the show Cressida went off to make up the all-night short list session for the TOTAL THEATRE AWARDS, which will then be decided on by a group of top level judges such as Pippa Bailey.
Then came the climax of the Beehive session, & PAUL VICKERS surreal show, TWONKEY’S CASTLE. Meeting up with his brother, VICTOR POPE & his mum Anne (see yesterday), we found ourselves right at the front & in the midst of the action. Words cant really describe what goes on in Paul’s mind as he floats from piece to well-written piece, delivering his puppet-peppered comedy with a dead-pan relish. He also sings, & bloody well at that, which gave the show a category of Cabaret. But its not cabaret – you cant really label it. Perhaps Vic Reeves & Des O Connor high on helium gas while Monty Python dance about them naked is kinda close, but its an hysterical ride through a man’s imaganation, & a mind thats growing confident with his material. He’d unleashed Twonkey on the Fringe last year (see you tube below) & where next Mr Vickers… Twonkey’s Space Station?
After the show I bid a farewell to Anne & remarked on how wonderfully she’s coping with both her sons being mad-as-hatters performers. I think she’s buzzing really, not many mum’s can say theyve seen their kid do a show at the Edinburgh Fringe, let only both of them. Apparently it was her mum who set the boys off on the path, making them do puppet shows about the Royal family in their early boyhood.
Alone now (Donna had gone off too, trying to re-organise her mind after Twonkey’s onslaught), I went to catch the last show of the day at PARADISE IN AUGUSTINES. This is at Saint Augustines church, where two theatres have been built & a number of interesting plays put on. Mine was EXCLUSION, from newly formed WHOOP N WAIL theatre company. This play is their first production & gives us a blend of Prisoner Cell Block H & the X Factor. As the audience enter the theatre they are given three seperately coloured badges, corresponding to the coloured pockets on the grey uniforms of the three prisoners. The raison d’etre of the show is to raise public consciousness as to the effects imprisonment has on women, & is delivered with panache. The three actresses play both gaurd & prisoner & work well together in whatever combination the plot gives us, as it leads up to the climax of teh audience choosing which prisoner should be released. Actual prison life is portrayed well, from the mundanity of folding laundry to the illicit fun of home brew, while there is also modernist film footage in an X Factor style, which breaks up the action cleverly & dramatically. An engaging play, this, & a window into a world we would prefer to be curtained off.
Joke of the Day -
I quit drinking 3 years ago… since then Ive lost 15 pounds… & all my friends
DAVID LEE NELSON