Ed date 170818 – My 5th celebratory blog of EdFringe 2017

After 5 days away we are back for another week of theatregoing, along with 20 panels, workshops, surgeries and meets.  May I recommend living in Portobello during the Festival – swimming pool, walks along the beach, 20 mins from town and quiet. Restorative and a creative community.

My first surgery was checking in with Narin Oz and her creation of the split personality clown characters in #Dirty Woman.  A week into her r&d free fringe first incarnation she has had 4* comment/reviews, a couple of walkouts, an audience member joining her in a binbag and another getting naked. She has offended, delighted, and bemused a great array of test audiences as she builds her character from her own psyche and her creativity. Go check her out (See earlier blog for details).

And from there it was my turn to join a festive audience for charity getting naked along with comedians and singers for the annual Naked Cabaret in support of Body Positive.  It is a great fun gig to grab a ticket for with friends or solo, and celebrate the bodies we were born with, or those we have morphed into through choice, age, determined change, diet or gym.  All are celebrated with a pint and some comedy.  We also share stories of surprising naked encounters or happenings, and it gave me a chance to invite all to the first West End naked audience for a mainstream show – Hair for a clothing optional audience in November.

Kit back on and a quick healthy dash to Silk Nightclub for Splitscreen produced by a absurdist company from Durham mixing the writing style of Ionesco with the surreal (well to me anyway) world of gogglebox – reality television audiences’ dedication to its own warts and all.  For lovers of the absurd – this is absurd. For bemused punters of the genre – they will find this is absurd. So result for lovers and bemused attenders at the genre. It is performed with complete commitment by a cast of skilled human observers, I look forward to learning more about the company.

Quick dash to Dr Faustus at St Augustines only to find that I actually had time for lunch and another quick show. Now what could I find which started at 16:30, ran less than 50 minutes, and was within 5 minutes walk of Greyfriars Bobby. Only Edinburgh can supply that kind of random gem. A shadow puppet and storytelling play with live guitar score from UCLU Runaground in the rather lovely Paradise Vault intimate subterranean venue. I love taking a chance on a company and the shadow tale of a rabbit-hole like adventure for a recent graduate with confused prospects was the core of Alex in Shadow. Each performer offers us a different aspect of young Alex’s journey through a wierd whimsy Lewis Carroll like world.  If I was working with the company on a third show to ensure even greater acclaim, I would explore a more poetic script to balance the delicacy of the imagery. So glad to have caught this company. I will return to see them again…and please do a programme next year – no idea where the company is based and whether they are students or preparing to be a professional shadow puppet company to watch in the future. No time to do internet research..off to Dr Faustus which I am reviewing for Musical Theatre Review – so you will need to go there to sign up to this illustrious periodical to get my sense of this new opera-musical.

And finally it was off to see Adam at the Traverse which has already garnered dozens of 4 and 5 star reviews from all the critics, so my comments are just quick reflections. Like Eve, the companion piece produced by the National Theatre of Scotland and the Traverse, this is a personal story of gender realisation, personal transformation, immense struggle to be seen as the person you are, and eventual deep applause from an audience for the subject/performer. The differences between the shows are about scale of presentation, budget, production values and packaging. Jo Clifford in Eve could walk onto any stage with or without a slide projector and offer us the same heartfelt personal story/play. I am absolutely sure that Adam Kashmiry could also settle in a chair and tell his story and have us transported. For whatever reason the National Theatre decided to wrap this powerful narrative in the skillbase of a creative team of writer, director, composer, set and costume designer, lighting, sound, projection designers, movement director and global choir project manager. The eventual piece was an immense global discovery and presentation project inspired by one man’s testimony of coming to Glasgow as a refugee, Initially he offered this as a short monologue some years before at the Citz – and now he has inspired thousands. Maybe the only way to fill every seat in a major national theatre such as the Traverse, and to get the columns and columns of star reviews, is to make the very personal narration into the epic. My thanks to Adam and his co-artist on stage Neshla Caplan who together offer us the “contranym” of Adam – a linguistic metaphor used by writer Frances Poet throughout to offer us two opposing facets of one person living in the same body. [A new term to me – think of the word bound – both meaning to leap free, and to be constrained]  The cheers for the real Adam at the end were heartfelt and electric – as he joins an array of artists offering their personal transition stories through theatre.

The following day, Thursday, I was involved in surgeries for creative artists and panel discussions for emerging companies all day at Fringe Central. An absolute joy to meet so many different practitioners bringing their artistry and stories to Edinburgh. I want back to see Transcreative’s You’ve Changed in the evening again and very sadly missed Escape for Dummies at Greenside because I got overwealmed by the surgeries. I hope others have really enjoyed this new piece from Nottingham Uni.

A dozen more shows to see, a wealth of meetings/workshops still to follow. And for those moving into the final week of the festival, just remember Portobello beach is a 20-30 minute bus ride on the 26, or climb Arthur’s seat – just so something to find some nature or peace away from the madness.

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