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Fringe Diary – Day 1: Edinburgh, I am amongst you.

I land at Edinburgh International Airport and hopped on a tram and to my utter delight was greeted by critic Matt Trueman who had spent 3 days in the Hebrides. We discussed shows and various other things and it came to light that he still hadn’t seen Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again…

“What!?,” I say – in disbelief.

He smiles.

“But Matt you’re the only person I know who could intellectualise Mamma Mia! (Matt recently appeared on a Channel 5 documentary chatting about the ABBA jukebox musical).

Actually, I did offer to take Matt to the cinema to see the film. But I won’t hold my breath.

Anyway, Edinburgh in August plays host to a vast amount of theatre and culture. But it’s the quality of the experience that counts for both industry figures, critics and residents, not the 3,000 plus performances. For me the Fringe is like Christmas and as Lyn Gardner put it recently: “Edinburgh Fringe is a great time to stock the larder for my theatrical year.” Truly.

My first show was Chris Goode’s sell-out site-specific show for Dante Or Die: User Not Found. This charming piece takes place at Jeeliepeace Cafe and is performed by Terry O’Donovan. We are handed headphones and a smart phone while Norah Jones plays.

It has something to say about memory and mortality and how we manage our social media footprint when we depart this world.

User Not Found could bring immersive theatre back from the dead. (I’m not usually a fan). Being simultaneously life-affirming and death-focused, however, is a tough act for any theatre-maker, but O’Donovan more than manages it. Beautiful.

European Citizen Popsong

European Citizen Popsong

Following the success of five previous seasons, Big in Belgium season at Summerhall always manages to produce some theatrical gold. Unfortunately, European Citizen Popsong is terrible.

This show doesn’t need any encouragement to be a preachy, right-on bore. Potentially, this could be a charming and cutting show that is bold enough to dish out stick to everyone, not just Brexit and Euroceptics and then progress to stage two of its development as a musical-comedy show: making it funny.

I walked out after 40 minutes.

HOME

HOME

In a terrific stroke, Geoff Sobelle‘s HOME is a quirky installation-slash-art-slash-theatre piece involves assembling a two-up, two-down house. It also involves unprepared audience members as co-performers.

A UK premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival this year, yet the show itself swarms with contradictory life. Much of it is terse, fuelled by low-key suspense and playful imagination. It’s a slow fragmentary show about an over-populated society.

I didn’t love it, though.

As late nights go, sticking All We Ever Wanted Was Everything in a 11.30pm slot – for one week only – Roundabout @ Summerhall is pure genius.

Middle Child’s forensic gig-theatre show is a heroic full-on piece of work that examines youthful dreams beautifully. The raucous live music and the lives it puts on stage, and the way you listen to dialogue. There is a sense of urgency and striving to bring about change in Luke Barnes’s engaging and ambitious play. All We Ever Wanted… makes you feel you can do anything. Everyone should sample it.

Edinburgh is amazing.