DAY TWENTY TWO
In just 50 years Edinburgh has had more inpact on our ideas
Than any town of its size since the Athens of Socrates
Shows – 77
Hangovers – 8
Yesterday was a good day & renewed my enthusiasm for all things Fringey. Thus when I stirred this morning to see the time reading 09.53, & I was due to see a show at 10.30, I was rapidly up & dressed in the boy-way, meaning I was out of the door only 3 minutes later. This meant no breakfast, but fortunately my first show of the day threw in tea & cake! Incidentally, the scrumilicious cake was supplied by Henderson’s, the cafe next door to the Jekyll & Hyde, & the excellent tea came from Eteaket on Frederick Street. So to the show… it is called THE TEAROOM & is on twice a day at LAURISTON HALL (22-28 – 10.30AM & 3PM) on Lauriston Street. Very much in the vein of the Fawlty Towers Dining Experience, we are thrust reality TV style into the middle of a tearoom, with the play happening among us. The punters are on the edges of the room while the action is conducted at the three tables in the centre. One by one the characters come in & are served their food & drink by an imminintely watchable waitress named Wendy (Dawn Hollington), all conducted in real time over the two hours of the show. The playwright, TANYA ALEXANDER, gives us several tales, inspired by conversations she’d heard in Bournemouth Tea shops, which now has the customers down on the south coast terrified to speak whenever she goes in!
Back here in Scotland, the real-life sources of these stories give us some very moving moments, especially that of the old fashioned elderly couple who have lost touch with their son after he married an Asian girl. You could tell it wasn’t going to be the same old weekly visit for them, for they’d come in on a Thursday & not their usual Friday, & the fortchoming revelations & reponse of the woman to them is highly emotive stuff. The entire cast, from hilarious fuddy duddies to young college mates, is 12 strong, & one feels like one is watching the aristocracy of the Am-Dram Dorset set… indeed, after a sell-out tour of the show all round Dorset last year, they have gone international for the week as if taking their movie to Cannes… & so they should as its a very welcome, & tasty, addition to the Fringe!
Across the road from Lauriston Hall is the EDINBURGH COLLEGE OF ART, hosting its annual Fringe-time POSTGRADUATE DEGREE SHOW. Here, one can wander through the latest cutting edge art of mankind’s fermenting youth, where the future Turner Prize winner may be lurking in student squalor. One is presented with various medias of the visual arts, of which SHAO-HUAN HSUING’s delectable ESCAPISM stood out. Entering a darkend room one is blasted with computer generated images, on both a screen & a strange model, & the overall effect is spell-binding. Elsewhere, two cute blondes, JOANNA HILL & HEATHER MCDERMOTT, were watching over their funk-fashioned, technicolour jewellery, enabling me to take these photos.
Leaving the art to gain in price my next show was ZANZIBAR FOR CATS (24-29 / 15.00) at the GILDED BALLOON, a very interesting hour indeed. Essentially we are given the latest poetry of HEATHCOTE WILLIAMS, but not from the poet himself, but by a friend he made thirty years ago, ROY HUTCHINS. This loss of ego then results in the listener truly appreciating the poem itself, especially from the mouth of Mr Hutchins, a two-time Perrier nominee, double Fringe First and Performer of the Year Award winner. I’ll admit, I dont know much about Heatchote’s work, but an hour immersed in his thought stream & turn of phrase was a definite ear-opener. Both topical & satirical at the same time, his stuff is more mega-monologue than poetry, yet completly entrancing. His Rhapsode, Roy, is the perfect foil for Heathcote’s muse, & the whole package is like when you get a pie from Greggs thats been out of the oven the couple of minutes it takes for it to cool down enough not to burn your tongue, yet is still heat-retentively tasty!
Feeling orpheus in my psychic sails, outside the Gilded Balloon I stumbled on THE POETRY TAKEAWAY, a wicked little addition to the Festival. Looking something like a posh burger van, the performance poet TIM CLARE scribbles down information from members of the public & will turn them into a poem, all for free. He got a bit of funding off an institution called IDEA’S TAP & its good to see he has realised his idea. Churning out quality poems factory-style is something I’m used to (epics don’t just write themselves y’know), & the presentation of the pieces – on posh paper in posher envelopes – can only serve to please their eventual recipients. Good work Tim, an ingenius angle & as more people get back into poetry, the better it’ll be for us all (especially the poets)!
Next up VICTOR POPE, on his day off, treated me to see a world premier show from the International Festival; entitled THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE at the operatic KINGS THEATRE. Back in the 50’s the young milk man Sean Connery made his debut here in South Pacific, but today it had been taken over by another Pacific lot, namely the Japanese. The production is based on a novel by Haruki Murakami, a surreal author & one of Victor’s favorites. The stage adaption has been made by American actor & film director, Stephen Earnhart, a multi-media affair which is a feast for the senses. Unfortunately, I found the story all over the place, but Victor re-assured me that was Murakami’s style. Still, it was a warm coupel of hours sat in high up in a grand setting, listening to the music this beautiful Japanes woman conjured on her own from her pit full of instruments. With all the multi-media stuff going on I felt as if I sat on the cusp of evolution. When Mr Connery played here, theer would have been painted wooden backdrops, but today we have tv screens with subtitles & projected images on blank screens. After all the theatre I’d been watching, it felt a cool wee, if a little premature, climax – for as of tomorrow we have come to the last lap of the Fringe.
Yet the theatrics are not yet over, & I went over to CVENUES, looking forward to the third part of the LULLABIES OF BROADMOOR. This one’s called WILDERNESS (26-27 / 22.20), & with the same four actors once again taking part, Im kinda hooked Eastenders style. This story is about a civil war veteran, who turns up unhinged in London & slays a guy. The story is largely about his inappropriate relationship with the wife of the victim, with the dead man’s ghost turning up from time to time screaming obscenities. The veteran, Dr Chester Minor, is played & cast excellently by Chris Courtenay, easily baring his portion of the quartet’s leading roles as if quaffing a good cup of tea. The writer, STEVE HYNESSEY ,must be acclaimed for his blending of the supernatural, the insane & the human touch found in all three of his plays so far. Couple this with the detailed research he conducted through the medical records of Broadmoor prison, & we have a playwright to be commended. On top of that he’s a proper nice guy. I now find myself eagerly awaiting the final play, THE MURDER CLUB (26-27 – 21.00), as if it were the Christmas episode down Albert Square.