Our first 1.5 days in Edinburgh became dedicated entirely to the Fringe Festival. The only sight-seeing we managed to squeeze in was during our walks from one venue to the next.
For those unfamiliar with Fringe, it is to theatre what NXNE and SXSE is to music–a weeklong celebration of the arts! The entire city is overtaken by thespians! Musicals, plays, improv, stand-up, one-man/woman-shows, storytelling–you name it! Performers come from around the world to participate, and art enthusiasts flock to Edinburgh to witness the chaos. The streets were packed. Navigating the Royal Mile (think Yonge Street) felt like swimming upstream at times.
We managed to squeeze in an impressive 7 shows in our 1.5 days in the city.
Immigrant Diaries: Three comedians/writers/actors (and the host) come up one at a time and share a personal story about being an immigrant. My favourite of the three was the first one. She was an actress born to Chinese parents who decided early on in her career that she wasn’t going to play Chinese stereotypes. Now, she’s currently filming an all-Asian film that is set to be released next year.
LadyFace (aka Lucy Farrett): A hilariously bizarre one-woman show featuring a woman dressed in a tutu. Imagine a bunch of SNL writers take a handful of their favourite sketches, and they throw the scripts in the air. That’s sort of what Lady Face was like. She would rotate between these strange characters, which I could easily see translating into recurring characters on a show like SNL. In between switching characters, music would play, and she’d dance wildly whilst getting the simple props ready for the next character. As soon as the music stopped, though, she immediately jumped into character.
I can’t do the characters justice, so just watch this video if you’re interested. https://www.assemblyfestival.com/whats-on/ladyface
My personal favourite characters were Geraldine and Anne Cotton. I’m pretty sure Doris’ favourite was Audrey Hepburn. We were quoting these characters for the remainder of the trip.
The City–A detective Hip Hop Opera: Exactly what it sounds like. The entire bloody thing is done in a rap! I was extremely impressed.
Walls and Bridges: A dystopia in the not-too-distant future Scotland, where Trump’s far right conservative influences have reached across the pond. The story follows a group of actors who believe art and freedom of expression is the people’s last stand against the government. They hope to use their underground production as one last big hurrah to get the people to rise up.
Monkey Dance: A strange production all the way from South Korea. Five monkeys people acting as monkeys, one woman who is their parent/guardian/god of some sort, and an explorer who comes across these exceptionally intelligent monkeys. He discovers that humans and monkeys have far more in common than they do differences when it comes to emotions of the heart. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was actually one of our favourites. The acrobatics and the humour were top notch.
Joe’s NYC Bar: An improv show that takes place in a bar. It’s meant to make you feel like you’re in a Cheers-type of bar where everybody knows your name. The audience is encouraged to participate in the discussion, though Joe, his brother, his childhood friend, and his friend’s sister lead the conversation. The conversation in this particular “episode” got tense, and it led to the younger brother storming out of the bar and Joe leading the group on a serious conversation about relationships. To ease the tension, they brought in a drag queen to perform on the keyboards! Loads of fun (until it got all serious and stuff).
10 Films With My Dad: Probably my least favourite, but only because he was an older gentleman, and a lot of his references were before even my time. The premise was really beautiful, though. A manly father and his not-so-manly son bond over films throughout the guy’s life because that was one of the few things they had in common. The father didn’t know how to express his emotions. Until they went on a road trip to Chicago, and something beautiful happened.
And that was our taste of the Fringe.
Well, that’s not true. We ended up catching Sweeney Todd on our second visit to Edinburgh the following week. But more on that later!