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Edinburgh Festivals Diary – Day 4

Edfringe 2019

My last day in Edinburgh, always a combination of joyous celebration for my sleep-deprived carcass and much sorrow. 

To the Pleasance for the big Fringe First Awards Ceremony – there were a couple of performances from this year’s Fringe First winning shows, The Patient Gloria and Bobby & Amy, and a closing performance by SK Shlomo, who had also been nominated for the Mental Health Fringe Award. 

oyce McMillan and Stephen Fry at the Fringe First Awards Ceremony

Joyce McMillan and Stephen Fry at the Fringe First Awards Ceremony

Stephen Fry was on hand to help critic Joyce McMillan present awards to the final week of winners.

Later at Pleasance Courtyard, I became aware of a member of the audience snatching a programme from the hand of a young usher. 

‘But I want to sit THERE.’ She hissed, before taking a seat next to me and then putting her head in her hands.

‘Oh my god… I was so horrible to that young man, wasn’t I?’ She asked. 

‘ You were an asshole.You ought to get a grip and go and apologise — immediately.’ I replied.

She did. 

Civil breakdown is never far at this stage of the festival. But there is no excuse for such bad behaviour; the Pleasance, like many fringe venues, relies largely on volunteers. 

dressed

dressed

Anyway, ThisEgg returned to the fringe with dressed, based on the true story of a woman’s response to being sexually assaulted at gunpoint. This is a delightfully layered four-woman show which weaves it’s strands together with accomplished skill and which — like so many shows on the fringe — takes a beautifully messy approach to telling an important story. 

I cried twice watching dressed; tears of pain and joy. I loved it. I loved the costumes, I loved the singing and I loved the degree of self revelation and personal risk taking; a highlight of my week. 

I bump into Producer Denise Silvey, she has four shows on the fringe this year, one of which is ‘Late Lunch With Christopher Biggins’, at Pleasance Dome. 

Late Lunch With Biggins featuring Ian McKellen

Late Lunch With Biggins featuring Ian McKellen

I learn that Ian McKellen will be the special guest, alongside Loose Woman and journalist Kaye Adams. Biggins shines in the role of cheeky chat-show host and it’s all rather a lot of fun. 

In the late afternoon I head to Bryony Kimmings’ sold out show ‘I’m A Phoenix, Bitch’, co-directed by Kimmings and Kirsty Housley.

This mind-blowingly good piece of theatre is about motherhood, heartbreak and finding inner strength. Combining ethereal music, personal revelation, clever live film and art installation. 

Kimmings invites us into her recent traumas and marriage breakdown in an on-stage memory palace of dazzling live art: The stage becomes the site of the painful memories. 

I'm A Phoenix, B*tch © Rosie Powel

I’m A Phoenix, B*tch © Rosie Powel

There’s no two ways about it, ‘I’m A Phoenix, Bitch’ is an unostentatious, meticulously crafted ninety-minute performance that is profoundly touching, intimate and powerful. She has given us something, once again, much to long cherish.

You cannot to wrong with a bit of rimming.

The fringe is overdue a new hero and my final show of the day is Post Popular by Lucy McCormick. 

I sat on the front row at this X-rated show – which is excellent in about 37 different ways – that constitutes what I reckon has to be 2019’s definitive Superstar-Has-Landed moment. She is flanked by two largely mute boy toys in tiny pants – and they all sing and dance terrifically. 

Basically, Post Popular is a comedy about history’s famous women – the joke is that there are only four of them: Eve, Boudica, Florence Nightingale & Anne Boleyn.

Lucy McCormick: Post Popular - Holly Revell

Lucy McCormick: Post Popular – Holly Revell

What follows is an outrageous mishmash of cabaret vignettes. Indeed, McCormick’s willingness to look kinda silly while she’s doing her thing is what makes her so compelling. As a final statement she drops her pants while singing ‘Search For The Hero Inside Yourself’ before pulling a Cadbury’s Miniature Hero out of her vagina. 

Thank you, Lucy: I’d never seen a vagina in real life. Now I have. *thumbs up emoji*

So, that’s all, folks. 

It may be time for a digital detox and go off-grid: no blogs, no theatre, no tormenting. I’m removing social media apps from my iPhone (including WhatsApp) and taking some time out.

It feels like the right time to step back and take a rain check for a while. 

See you on the other side, guys. 

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Here’s Your Definitive Guide to Edinburgh Fringe 2019 (you’re welcome)

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 guide by Mr Carl Woodward
Bryony Kimmings

Bryony Kimmings

I loved Bryony Kimming’s I’m A Phoenix, Bitch at Battersea Arts Centre – don’t miss it at The Pleasance. You really are in safe hands with ThisEgg; a gorgeous four-women show called dressed returnsRhum and Clay’s clever The War of the Worlds will be sure to make its mark, too. 

Elsewhere, YESYESNONO return with The Accident Did Not Take Place, featuring a new guest performer every night. Could be good. Dark Lady Co are staging Drowning at Pleasance Courtyard as well – it sets out to confront all we deem evil, horrible, and hideous. Curious eh.

Over at Summerhall, double act Ridiculusmus bring a smart show: Die! Die! Die! Old People Die! This is funny and fragile farce about mortality and mourning. The highly brilliant Cardboard Citizens return with Bystanders, shining a light on the life and death of homeless people. National Theatre Wales will chart the story of a woman travelling from Ireland to Wales to have an abortion in Cotton FingersKieran Hurley and Gary McNair’s Square Go return as well and that will be worth seeing. 

Paines Plough are kind of amazing aren’t they. They always put on outstanding new plays from around the UK; this year it is no different: there are three world premieres in The Roundabout @ Summerhall in co-production with Theatr Clwyd by Daf JamesNathan Bryon and Charles Miles

Among other highlights, Steph Martin stars in I’m Non Typical,Typical by Cambridge’s Bedazzle Inclusive Theatre; this new play aims to change people’s perceptions of disability. Worth a look. 

(BalletBoyz) Dancers in cube

(BalletBoyz) Dancers in cube

Edinburgh Fringe demigod Henry Naylor brings The Nights – the fifth stand-alone play in Naylor’s Arabian Nightmares series, that tackles the uncomfortable relationship between the East and West, post 9/11/ (his wife is Sarah Kendall, you know). I’m rather excited about all-male company BalletyBoyz making their dreamy fringe debut, with THEM/US one piece choreographed by the company and the other by Christopher Wheeldon at Bristo Square, Underbelly. Unmissable talent.  

Traverse Theatre features a host of world premieres including Crocodile Fever by Meghan Tyler – a blackly comic drama set in Northern Ireland. Javaad Alipoor will direct his piece created with the excellent Kirsty HouselyRich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran – inspired by stories of the expanding global wealth division. 

I’m also curious to see what the Edinburgh International Festival has on offer. Stephen Fry will present a trilogy of plays adapted from his book Mythos, about the Greek pantheon of gods and their various inceptions. Disability-led Birds of Paradise present Robert Softley Gale’s Purposeless Movements, exploring the perception of masculinity and disability. 

Sometimes you can find a hidden gem at theSpaceUK. I must emphasise the choice word ‘sometimes’ here. (I once sat in a basement with a pipe leaking on my head for 50 minutes, while a woman shaved her legs to the songs of Thin Lizzy – it was not good. It was, in fact, shit). 

Noir Hamlet

Noir Hamlet

Anyway, if you like comedy I reckon Noir Hamlet, which has already picked up the Boston Globe Critic’s Pick earlier this year – is worth a look; it updates Hamlet to a wise-cracking 1940s detective up to his neck in a comedic case with more twists that a gallows tie. 

While you are there, Level Up might be worth a look. It explores a near-future utopia where real love is impossible to measure.

National Theatre of Scotland are staging two world premieres at the festival – Jackie Kay’s Red Dust Road, about growing up as a mixed-race adopted Scot, as well as Tim Crouch’s Total Immediate Collective Imminent Terrestrial Salvation, in a co-production with the Royal Court.

Ian McKellen

Ian McKellen

Stop the clocks: Ian McKellen stops off as part of his 80 date UK tour: this is sold out, which is a shame. I should mention that Robert Icke brings his political reimagining of Oedipus to the international festival, I don’t think I have the energy for this, though.
So, there you have it, that’s the end of my definitive Edinburgh Fringe 2019 guide.

I hope you have found some use in this guide to what the fringe world has on offer. 

If you have tips, tweet me: @mrcarlwoodward*thumbs up emoji*.

Goggles – a quirky comedy about love, loss, loneliness and fish presented by ThisEgg

Gemma and Josie had pet fish, Sunny and Boo. But now they are dead. As they remember watching their pet fish live harmoniously in a bowl, Gemma and Josie wonder if they love each other as much as Sunny and Boo had loved each other. They think about whether it would be possible to love each other more. They think that might be too much, but then they think about living without one another.

Goggles

Goggles

This is a quirky comedy about keeping afloat. It is an attempt to give Sunny and Boo the happy ending they deserved…

Goggles plays with how we can make what we imagine become real. It is about doing something to right a wrong. It is about the struggle to keep a friendship in balance. Devised and Performed by Gemma Barnett and Josie Dale-Jones, this is an imaginative piece of comic theatre charged with vitality and immediacy.

Past achievements for ThisEgg:

“This theatre company is definitely one to keep an eye on.” 

Edinburgh Spotlight

WINNER OF BEST HIDDEN GEM AWARD 2014

EntertainmentWise

Short Listed for the

NSDF EDINBURGH EMERGING ARTISTS AWARD 2014

★★★★★ “delivered to perfection” 

Pick of the Fringe’ Stage Won (Spaghetti Junction 2012)

★★★★

Fest (Please Don’t Cry (At My Funeral) 2014)

★★★★  “eccentric, hilarious, buzzing” 

Fringe Biscuit (Spaghetti Junction 2012)

Venue: Pleasance Courtyard, Attic

Dates: 3-29th August (excl 16th)

Time: 14.00-15.00

Web: www.thisegg.co.uk