This morning I find myself leaving Edinburgh bathed in glorious sunshine – and, if the weather forecast is to be believed, will return to Southampton to be bathed again, this time in torrential rain. Still, it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive (or so I’m told in a metaphor for life) and the scenery from the train window as we head toward Berwick has rarely looked finer.
I have had a wonderful time in Auld Reekie, not just enjoying the various festivals but also catching up with a load of friends. Nevertheless, I am quite grateful to be returning to “real” life as I need the rest! Too much stimulation and too many late nights makes Jack a very tired boy (or middle-aged man, as the case may be). My head, well those small parts not devoted to empty space, is overflowing with culture – high, low and all points between – which is slowly stewing together to make some sort of cultural casserole between my ears. I have yet to tot up how many events I attended this year, but I am quietly confident that it will be a new personal best – perhaps around 60. This seems a lot to me, but a couple of days ago I encountered someone who had attended 283 (and he was no spring chicken). That’s more than 10 a day! Surely this must be a lethal dose? It makes me question my own commitment to the Arts – but I am not planning to compete any time soon, I just don’t have the stamina.
I do realise the essential futility of recommending Fringe shows as the festival has, essentially, ended – but, if I was put off be the pointlessness of my actions this blog would be a great deal shorter than is, in fact, the case. Plus, it is always possible that these shows may tour to a village hall or cosy drawing room near you and then you’ll thank me! (Well, a chap can hope.) So, here goes nothing…
Signal Failure: a two-handed play, which would probably be described as a rom-com, was very good, though in a move which may disappoint at least one regular reader, railway signalling took no part in the action whatsoever – not so much as a cheeky permissive block reference. This does mean the market is still waiting for a line-side signal-based romance.
Donald Robertson is not a stand-up comedian: was also very good, if initially slightly confusing as it was a play about a stand-up comedian (all very meta after all my recent exposure to stand-up). Very nicely constructed story-telling with (to me at least) an unexpected twist at the end.
Will Adamsdale: mostly sedentary stand-up which was both funny and oddly uplifting.
Mark Watson: as excellent as ever and a chap who can make a larger venue (Pleasance One – there is no Two) feel intimate.
John-Luke Roberts: the man is barking, but very funny – and likely to be scurvy-free for some time to come. Luckily I was not required for the extensive audience participation this year, though I did have the good fortune to sit next to Thom Tuck who must have the filthiest laugh on the Fringe.
Mat Ewins: this was even more stupid than J-LR and I am slightly worried we may have been laughing at, rather than with, Mat. We may have been witnessing a man having a breakdown (though I’m used to this as a listener to the Shaun Keaveny Breakfast Show) and you would have to be in the right frame of mind for the show, but if the stars align(or you are as silly as I am) you will laugh a lot.
I saw many other shows that were a lot of fun, but it’s always best to leave the audience wanting more (says the man typing post 512 – or thereabouts). I think the moral here is to give the Arts a chance – often it does’t have to be wildly expensive (very few shows cost as much as three pints of bitter) – and they can provide fun for all the family (and beyond), though feel free to spread your fun out over a slightly longer period of time than I have!