Who I’ve been doing

August 15, 2008


I’m writing some more blog. You’re lucky I didn’t do this earlier in
the week as I’ve been in a bad mood. Many people have noted that my bad
moods are one of their favourite fringe events. They are bastards. But then
I went to Susie’s Wholefood Diner and everything was ok again. I shared the
banoffee pie with La Torrance. We both smiled for a long time after that.
It’s what passes for sex in these parts.

Did Alys tell you about The Hamiltons? We did The Hamiltons. I’ll rephrase.
Am I right or have I just reminded us all of a court case some years ago?
Oh. Dear. Yes, we had ‘Lunch with The Hamiltons’. Actually it was better
than that. We drank champagne. We did some swordfighting. We sat on a sofa
dressed head to toe in industrial rubber and  then we had a competition to
see who could pick a cereal packet off the floor with just their teeth. And
all in front of a paying crowd. Now that’s what I call lunch.

Right, I’m off for a swim. Well it can’t be A list high jinx all the time.

Judith Faultless

Celery & other snacks

August 14, 2008

Today Judith and I were given a stick of celery each. During our show. What is it about us that makes us look as though we need to up our mineral intake mid-performance? I am baffled. I have never in my life even considered giving groceries to actors. Throwing rotten fruit would be one thing – that is criticism at it’s most vital (at least in terms of nutritional value), and frankly, more to the point than some of the reviews washing around the Festival. (There is a classically hilarious one knocking about in which the reviewer (bless it) critiques a performer’s choice of cd player in scathing terms. Well done, reviewer. A word count well used. Go forth and critique. Dixon’s needs you.)

But rootling in your shopping bag, which you have brought along to the theatre, and doling out big leafy sticks of celery mid-swashbuckle takes the biscuit. It’s nuts. It’s the act of a fruitcake. So don’t blame us if our show turns into panto if you people turn up with crudities. That’s all I can say. Sorry. Read more

Internal Madness

August 13, 2008

My decision to not read reviews is killing me. I usually trawl the meagre comedy pages of the media obsessively during the rest of the year. The one time when the papers are brimming with the stuff I’ve made a pact with myself not to look! It must be for the best. It must be. It must be.

Two days ago I took my first pedicab home, which took the exciting route of The Mound, then Dundas. That’s a shitload of downhill. It was exciting, then it would stop becoming exciting when I realised that I might die. Then we would go uphill and it would be slow and less exciting, but with less chance of death. Ten minutes in which I lived a thousand lives. With a blanket over my knees. Read more

Roy Walker’s Knee

August 12, 2008

Buns baked: 374
Icing varieties used: 4

Hello. Helen here.
So I waited in the Pleasance Courtyard to see if there’d be room for me to sneek into Flanders and Swann. Roy Walker was doing the same. I gave him a smile. He said hello. We went in. I sat beside him but declined the very kind offer of a spot on his knee. After a very enjoyable show and a little chat with Roy, he said “Very nice to have met you.” Now the music was quite loud and I didn’t quite catch the phrase he’d spoken. So I replied, “Yes.” I promise I wouldn’t generally be so arrogant as to proudly agree with a former game show host that it was, indeed, very nice for him that he had met me. I must try and bump into Jim Bowen and try out my bald-faced pride on him.

Later on, I was in a toilet queue, chatting with a woman I recognised, thinking that maybe we had worked together at Tescos. But no, it was Holy Mary from Phoenix Nights. I must work harder to delineate reality from fantasy.

The show which takes place after ours in the Pleasance Cellar is called Alpha Males. Nicely menu’d next to Domestic Goddi, no? Well, you know the embarrassingly theatrical phrase, “break a leg”? Poor Alpha Male took it literally and broke his leg in two places on stage. We send him our best wishes. We have ages to take down our show now. It’s an ill wind… Read more

Perfect Pitch & generous fellow actors

August 12, 2008

It was a stonking night last night – 200 + people cheering four performers presenting songs from Musical Theatre pieces which none of us knew. The latest work by Matt Brind, Laurence Mark Wythe, Stuart Matthew Price, Dougal Irvine and Christopher Hamilton.  Their families know their name, some of the champions of Musical Theatre know their potential, but last night a whole host of general public and young performers took the chance to explore the world of new work. All praise to Andy Barnes and his Perfect Pitch network, Peter White and his fellow musicians, and the cast of Wendy Killian, Sophia Behn, Stuart Angell, and Mike Shearer. Read more


August 12, 2008

cantonment-area-drive-slow.jpgEvery audience is different. It’s something you can never second-guess. Some nights you can feel blankets of laughter coming from middle rows; behind them, heads bob with the fatigue from the stuffy heat of the room while somewhere to the left there are quiet gasps of delight.

But what’s really off-putting are the people you can see in the front row, particularly, like on Saturday night, it happened to be a group of young Australian men, hair ‘producted’ into exclamation marks, surly slouches a congenital defect and glaring at me as if they’d would rather be watching Jim Jefferies. Read more

Days Off

August 11, 2008

Woh-oh, we’re halfway there, woh-oh, living on a prayer… As yet, this song hasn’t been one of the ones on near-permanent loop in my head. Although we are halfway through the festival. Ish. I’ll be honest, I feel like I’m on a bit of a mental safari, wandering around Edinburgh, swinging between Tiggerish glee and Eeyoreish torpor, all accompanied with a jaunty mental soundtrack courtesy of a show I’ve directed, Polite Club. This morning I serenaded my flatmates with Little Old Sexy Me over my Alpen. It was, I am afraid, far from appropriate.

The fatigue is really beginning to kick in now, but luckily it’s time for most shows to have a day off. This is a good thing, in a way, but rarely works as well as you’d hope. The day before the day off, performers tend to cut loose, staying out until all hours on massive benders, which does little to help the long-term exhaustion. Alternatively, performers go to bed early, screw up their body clock, and end up just as tired as before and with a gloopy and inflamed respiratory system, as their bodies assume that it’s all over and time for the immune system to kick back. Read more

Getting noticed – Fringe Sunday & Ben Moor

August 11, 2008

Dodging rain showers it was great to see so much fun being had across the Meadows, all the performers tents seemed packed and wandering through with my Producer Associate, Tom Atkins, we were musing on what it takes to get noticed on the Fringe. With thousands of people milling around, and hundreds of companies with leaflets, a few obvious things still seem to be missing in terms of preparation.  

Earlier in the day I’d spotted a representative of one of our companies looking relatively insignificant on the High Street, in his own clothes, with a few leaflets and badges.  He was competing with the likes of JET SET GO resplendent in their sirline uniforms with matching luggage parading down the High Street completely in character and engaging with the audience.  On the Meadows there was a really strong presence from Precarious with THE FACTORY playing at Zoo Southside – everyone had posters on placards above their heads, they were strategically spread around the grass, you couldn’t miss them, and they talked to us. They inspired us with their show. I’ve booked my ticket.  On the other hand there were lines of people silently holding leaflets hoping we might want one.  Spot the potential audience member, come up, chat to us, we’re there to be interested – otherwise we’d flee the Meadows in an instant.  

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Real life Nigella

August 10, 2008

Bun Consultants visiting from London
Buns baked: 281
Feeling of the day: I am tempted by some Japanese silent theatre as it got a 5 ***** review.
Rosie here. As you will have gathered the USP for our Edinburgh comedy a show is a bun, so in our case or ‘bun case’ it’s more of a USB.

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Edinburgh conversations: a user guide

August 9, 2008

This week in Edinburgh, people are mostly talking about how their shows are going, or the ever-fascinating five day forecast (linked to here partly so I can find it easily. Thank you, What’s On Stage.) I accidentally started a conversation about the military escalation in South Ossetia yesterday and immediately realised the depth of my ignorance on the subject.

How your show is going is measured in terms of three things: sales, reviews, and who you’ve had in. The first is self-explanatory: everyone is keen to know how much well-earned honk they’re going to lose this year. The second has changed over the seventeen years I’ve been coming up here due to the advent of the star system. In the good old days people would actually read reviews, now they just count stars. And if I had a pound for everyone who’s had “a three-star review, but it’s really good. Reads more like a four-star…” I’d have enough to buy a really lovely dinner at Bonsai. Finally, “who you’ve had in” means reviewers and influential industry professionals: it often sounds as if paying punters – who should, in a perfect world, be the point of the whole exercise – are irrelevant to career-hungry performers.

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