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Edinburgh Fringe Diary: Day 3 

Fringe Awards 2018

Fringe Awards 2018

I start the day by heading to the Fringe First Awards at Pleasance Courtyard. The weekly awards recognise new work at the Edinburgh Fringe and The Scotsman have been hosting the awards since 2004; they continue to be the most important awards at the Fringe.

Jason Donovan took time out of his short festival appearance to help present this morning’s Fringe Firsts. Summerhall and the Traverse have each won six awards this year, which is kind of remarkable.

Anyway, rules for the prize were simple. It doesn’t pretend to cover all genres – it would celebrate theatre, as theatre tends to suck in the best bits of other genres anyway.

Many congratulations to all the winners and nominees.

A quirky tale themed around extra-terrestrial sightings, Lights Over Tesco Car Park offers up the perfect theatrical fit for Oxford-based Poltergeist Theatre’s inimitable melancholy. These bright young things have crafted with charm and humour a simple but multi-faceted interactive show that works so superbly on so many levels. The whole thing is staged with infectious youthful seriousness; really enjoyable.

The production is staged with visual sophistication and is emotionally engaging. But, watching this playful study of outsiders, I too felt a sense of alienation. Clever stuff.

I head off to the Pleasance Cafe to have a chin wag with Lyn Gardner. We have a mint tea and discuss several shows that we have both seen. Gardner has been here all month: writing a daily blog for The Stage, participating in podcasts, reviewing for The Independent and seeing up to six shows a day.

She’s kind of amazing.

Clown Show About Rain explores the unpredictable nature of mental health. Clowning, beautiful visuals and physical theatre, this is a quietly enjoyable hour. A poignant piece that borders on the saccharine yet still contains some subtle theatre magic thrown in – there’s a vibrant dance scene with mops and the cast deserve an award for their facial expressions. Not awful.

I’m not quite sure how I ended up at a show about about a woman who has vaginismus, which is a fairly brazen set up. But Skin A Cat at Assembly Rooms, is a clever and frank drama. Isley Lynn’s comic play about one woman’s sexual identity was certainly an eye-opener.

Actually, the moments that do feel a little commonplace here are vastly outweighed by moments that allow uniqueness to shine through. A story that compels its audience towards strong feeling but keeps spectators at a distance. Worth a look.

David Greig’s expanded revival of Midsummer – originally a Fringe two-hander in 2008 – is inexplicably at the Hub for the International Festival. This spirited chamber musical is a thing of joy. It occasionally feels like hard work, though.

There are strong performances from Henry Pettigrew and Sarah Higgins, with a supporting on-stage band delivering a sweet soundtrack. But the dissonance between the forgettable songs and a man having a midlife crisis amidst a haze of hangovers is just too jarring to work. It goes on a bit.

I ended the night at Summerhall with Mark Fisher (The Guardian) chatting about life, Fringe fever & other things. Such fun.