DAY TWENTY ONE
This proffusion of eccenticities, this dream in masonry & living rock
is not a drop scene in a theatre, but a city in the world of reality
Robert Louis Stevenson
Shows – 72
Hangovers – 8
This time next week it’ll be all over bar the the creation of arty montages from the leftover flyers. Finally shaking off the weekend I set off out in the morning to the SUMMERHALL for HOTEL METHUSELAH (19-26 – 10.45 / 12.45 / 14.45). It was first at the fringe in 2006, winning acclaim for its cutting edge stage design & theatrics which are still fresh today. They involve a mix of film & acting, synchronised to perfection, in which the real-life is seen from the neck down & the celluoid gicing us the heads. I was invited along by my mate’s sister, MORVEN MACBETH, who gave a glorious performance (& thats unbiased) of the ghost that haunts her amnesiac ex-husband – a night porter at the hotel. The whole thing comes across very film noir, very European & very slick, a real-life graphic novel with a constant background noise of battle as if one was in Berlin April 1945, where the Germans carried on living an illusion with the Russians roaring over the River Oder. The two main protaganists are supported by the other two great actors & the whole experience is sensual in that late night Soho kind of way, where lipstick smudges on the whiskey glass & illicit sex is stolen in shadowy alley ways
My next show was by the BELARUS FREE THEATRE at the PLEASANCE COURTYARD, called A REPLY TO KATHY ACKER:MINSK 2011 (24-29 / 13.00), a thought-conjuring piece of political brinksmnaship, defiantly highlighting the oppression of the former Soviet Republic, although from the safety of a liberal Britannia! The company was formed in 2005 by husband & wife team NIKOLAI KHALEZIN & NATALIA KALIADA. This year’s show was played by a young Belorussian cast, speaking in their native tongue with subtitles on a giant screen behind them. It is something of a series of vignettes highlighting the life & times of life in Minsk, the capital of Europe’s last dictatorship. It’s actually quite brilliant, & played with an energy that can only come from real-life experience. The finale is an operatic flourish which has a pretty Belorussian woman declaring her country is not sexy, for it has no coastline or mountains, & tells us the only way they can be noticed is by going naked – which she does completely, & then gets painted head to toe with rollers before rolling on paper & making body art. A sublime piece of theatre, as contemporaneously poignant as watching Colonel Gadaffi’s compound being over-run in Tripoli at the very moment she showed us her very impressive lady-bits!
Next came a coffee with this literary agent who’s interested in my Edinad (see above). He’s come down from Perth for a wee chat & to check out the fringe, so I chucked him my free ticket for POLLYANNA at CVENUES (21-26 / 15.00). The story comes to Edinburgh from Eleanor.H.Porter’s best selling 1913 novel, via 1960’s Disney adaption with a young Hayley Mills. By 2011, the SKY BLUE THEATER COMPANY from Cambridge have turned into a musical which has up to 30 characters on stage at any one time. The costumes are absolutely top notch, from the pig-faced young ladies to the witchy spinsters, & the music rolls on with a relish. The leading lady/girl plays an enthralling Pollyanna, combating an equally enrapturing Fagin-like Mr Gripe, giving us the classic good vs evil tayle that stirs the soul. Watching this musical reminded me of seeing Bednobs & Broomsticks for the first time & is very much enacted in that spirit – twas perfect family fare!
Pollyanna in rehearsal…
That was the last show for the day, & time to play a bit of music. After sound engineering for VICTOR POPE we piled over to the REGENTS BAR, Edinburgh’s gay-friendly CAMRA award-winning vestibule of fun & fine ales (plus free condoms & lube in the loos.) Cammy, who hosts the Whistle Binkies open mic, also has a residency here on Tuesday nights, where Edinburgh’s best singer songwriters mingle for music & meetings. Tonight was slightly different, for in the spirit of teh Fringe Cammy had got a couple of comedians to take up some of the slots. Of them I came across comedic Sonic the Hedgehog that is AARON TWITCHEN whose show is FREE TEA & BISCUITS at the VOODOO ROOMS (16-27 / 14.25), which is going to be, if his ten minutes open mic slot is anything to go by, a ball of quality campness!
The final act of the day was my own 15 minutes of ‘fame,’ & a couple of songs of my crafting, accompanied by Luke. One of them, Seminal Lives, written on the orphanage roof near Gwalior that Bonnie’s Linkey Lea festival raises money for back in 2007, I was inspired to sing by mi mate Linday. Last Friday, at the Southsider pub, she’d sang every line to me in a drunken haze, reminding me its a wicked wee track (see below). So I played it to a great response & left the pub a little after buzzing, despite my complete lack of chemicals. On the way home I started writing a tidy wee pop classic called Annie-May, & put it to chords when I got in. I guess that’s what happens when one is swirling about such a cultural cauldron as the Fringe, as people inspire us we become inspired ourselves, for the muses are far to busy oiling the wheels of performance to enact their normal duties, & for once, & for a short while, we humans become gods!