Something for the Weekend

19/8/11 to 22/8/11

The capital of Scotland is filled with strongly individual individuals
Moray Maclaren

Shows – 62
Hangovers – 5

After maintaining a daily blog for 16 whole days, my endurance finally cracked, worn down by one of those weekends I have habitually up here in Edinburgh. Its now Monday afternoon & Ive already missed 3 shows I was meant to see today. However, I have finally stirred from my ridiculously comfy bed & am ready to play catch up. It all began last friday noontime when I went to a playwrighting workshop at the FRINGE CENTRAL entitled CREATING A VIRTUAL WORLD: RHYTHM, LANSDCAPE & IDENTITY. It was hosted by NICHOLA McCARTNEY, an awardwinning & widely comissioned playwight, who oozes proffessional confidence. The thirty or so ‘pupils’ were immediately given the task of writing a piece of dialogue between somebody who keeps a secret & someone who desperately wants to find out what it is. We were then split into groups of four, & read the work aloud. I found myself with two young Cypriot girls & a middle-aged Greek lady… & with Greece being th birthplace of theatre I thought that was rather cool. From then on in McCartney proceeded to give us a lecture in plot-making, completely deriding Aristotle in the process! We then ended with another piece of writing to conclude a highly enjoyable & knowledgeable couple of hours.

Nichola McCartney

From there I went off to see an excellent piece of theatre, being THE GIRL WITH THE IRON CLAWS at the UNDERBELLY (23-28 13.35). Using gorgeous puppets, props & great showmanship, the two young women & two young men recreate the old Nordic folk tale that inspied Disney’s Beauty & the Beast. It tells us the story of a king that has been cursed by a troll-queen. This entails being transformed into a bear every day for three years, turning into a human again only at night-time Meanwhile, he has also ‘abducted’ a young woman to be his bed-mate, but if she ever sees his face the bear would be forced to marry the Troll Queen. I was literally lost in wonderment through the entire show, the star turn of which has to be a strangely sexy Troll Queen, who upon getting angry transforms through the use of puppets & props into a giant monster. A close second comes the bear & its galloping through the forest with other characters on its back. I also noticed that of the two male actors, one looked like Sean Bean & the other sounded like him. Despite being a ‘fairy tale,’ the entire audience was adult & with the stories dark sexual undertones, this seemed rather apt. A great ride, the scenes come thick & fast, full of three-fold repetitions & magic treasures, goodies, baddies & all you expect from classic storytelling!

At VICTOR POPE’S show I met mi old pal CLIFF PERRY, who agreed to join me for a bit of high culture. This was the second show of STEVE’ HYNESSEY’S LULLABIES OF BROADMOOR quartet, VENUS AT BROADMOOR (23, 25, 27 – 21.00) at CVENUES. The story revolves around the notorious ‘Chocolate Cream Poisoner,’ an amorously rejected woman who injected stycharine into chocolates & distributed them round Brighton, resluting in many illnesses & the fatal munchings of a young boy. Declared insane she found herself in Broadmoor, terrorizing both inmate & staff members with her lewdness, nymphomania & primadonna-ing. A great triumph of historical research & storytelling, this play is vey much about VIOLET RYDER, an extremely pretty & talented actress that plays the character of Christiana Edmonds with skill & energy. The Venus connection comes from her looking at Bottecelli’s Birth of Venus & imagining herself doing the same on Brighton beach, a week before she began her spree of confectionary-based daftness. There was never a dip in the telling, by the way, & the play & its pieces were timed just right… bring on the next two shows – I am now hooked!

From the play it was just a short walk to the SUMMERHALL & Bonnie’s boyfriend’s band, THE STAGGER RATS. They’re a good bunch a lads from East Lothian, & my band Saraswathi had shared the bill with them several times. The keyboardist, CALLUM EASTER, had even been in my movie-musical, CHARLIE! They’ve been recently signed up by a bunch of Hungarians, recording an album in Budapest & releasing singles & making videos (see below). I like their sound, its a brand of intellectual rock reminscent of Radiohead, but happier. The crowd was jumping all the way through the music, & afterwards all soul’s mingled happily throughout the very stylish drinking areas. One of these is in the old disecting champer of the Veterinary College, which makes for a great venue. Neon lights poured pastel colours onto teh proceedings while DJ’s played between live acts on its wee but wicked stage. Everyone seemed delighted to be at such a funky spot – as if we’d all stumbled on the El Dorado of nightspots!

The Stagger Rats

Being quite drunk at the Summerhall, I began the descent into hedonism that resulted in the lateness of this blog. First off was a wee pub crawl with pals, from the Southsider pub, through CVenues all the way to Edinburgh’s premier gay nightclub, CC Blooms. Here, to counteract my bum getting pinched by guys I was forced into getting off with this gorgeous bird. Next day – Saturday – was spent showless, as i was preparing gear & tunes for my DJ-ing slot at the Village pub in Leith. This went brilliantly by the way, & I played for an extra hour & a half after I should have done. From there a few of us hit a female friends pad for big Sunday session, watching both series of the Flight of the Conchords interspersed with numerous trips to the offy. Finally, after sound engineering for VICTOR POPE, I met Caska for a trip to the MEADOWS & the ever-endearing LADY BOYS OF BANGKOK (three times a day til the 27th). I’ve got a soft spot for the guys & girls of the show, having spent several years helping them build the complex when I worked for John Diamond. This resulted in many a free tickets for the show, born from the mind of Phil Gandy, a sound Mancunian who has taken the family circus tradition into the a new dimension. Of all the shows Ive seen, however, this particular one has been the best. As the ‘cast’ mime to popular songs from all eras we are presented a blend of comedy, costumes, dancing & audience particpiation that has no equal, & of course theres the question of which of the super-sexy women were born men. For teh crowd the highlight of the show is the renditions of teh Proclaimers’ 500 Miles by the Proclaimers, & You’ll take the High Road, which has every Scot on their feet clapping & singing along, a great source of national pride for all present, & the cabaret version of the Hampden Roar!

George Dillon

After staggering home, then, on Sunday, I found my aforementioned comfy bed & simply stayed there, only surfacing to sound engineer for Victor & teh show before it. This was THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW by GEORGE DILLON at the EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTRE. This was by far the best auditorium Id been to, & quite a lovely show. Its one man affair, with Dillon playing the part of Saint Matthew as he recites & acts out that particular gospel. He stalks the stage like a raving priest, both passionate & realistic, with various visuals beamed onto a great screen behind him. Its powerful stuff, & whetehr you’re a Christian or atheist, it cannot be denied how electric & eternally fascinating is the story of Jesus’ rise & fall. The how is an houyr & a half long & will be perfomred be perfomed at the SPOTLIGHTS@MERCHNANTS HALL (27th, 20.40) & twice at St John’s Church (24 & 26, 21.30) where he’ll be dropping the visuals & just lighting candles, recreating the atmosphere of its original first century recitations.

Finally, after sound engineering a good VICTOR POPE show, he was invited to the Eyrie room of the JEKYLL & HYDE for a slot in MASAI GRAHAM’S MONSTER MUNCH (to the 28th 20.15). This was for a seven minute slot alongside six other comedians & their seven minutes, a nice mix of comedians doing their best material. The final perfomer is Masai himself, who jolts us through a series of deadpan one-liners & funny punning. Great fun & the shortness of the sets keeps one’s interest at a high level, like swinging through a swingers club, but not never shooting your load.

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