We can't seem to get enough of the Fringe. After our first foray to Edinburgh in August 2012, we knew we'd be back. We only managed to carve out two days from our busy schedule to attend this year, but we made the most of it, taking in 10 different shows on the festival's closing weekend.
Performance: The Big Bite-Sized Breakfast Show
Well acted short and snappy plays held our attention. Subject matter ranged from foul mouthed potty-humor to unexpected but endearingly emotional encounters. The croissants and coffee were a nice gimmick.
Venue: Pleasance Dome
Bright and airy space. Limited amenities.
Performance: Ben Champion - Human
Catchy tunes tackled a range of subject matter from Gingers in Texas to the perils of auto-correct. Some material was right on the money, some fell flat with the lunchtime audience.
Venue: Gilded Balloon
Housed in the student union at the University of Edinburgh, a kitschy moose mascot lives on the wall. Nice buffet for a quick bite to eat with wood paneled bars to kill the time between shows. Outdoor food and drinks area fun on a sunny afternoon.
Performance: Breaking News
Was expecting more based on the hype. Stage was difficult to see. Puppetry was imaginative but plot was a bit hard to believe (i.e., someone is so obsessed with news that they give over their life to it).
Loved this quirky venue located in an old classroom building. Everything from the green monkey in the courtyard...
...to the haircutting station...
...to The Royal Dick pub hinted at surprises around every turn.
I smiled when I saw this guy dozing while standing up at the side of the queue to get into the show.
High energy sketch comedy featuring 4 lads and their vibrant characters. Get ready for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Revival, lots of shaved nipples, and a modern take on the Three Little Pigs.
Over-crowded without a ton of seating. Bathrooms are a fair hike from the center of the courtyard. Venue itself is a bit farther afield than some of the others.
Performance: After the Apocalyse
Free Fringe event taking the audience into a post-apocalytic cabaret (aka the Cab-apocalypse-aret). Catchy songs and audience participation made for a solid outing.
Venue: The VooDoo Rooms
A small venue in New Town Edinburgh. Overcrowded without enough seating to meet demand.
The Free Fringe can be a bit of a mixed bag. I give the guys of MI4 an A for enthusiasm and effort. In the end though, the show didn't seem to deliver what it promised. We were expecting sketch comedy revolving around a spy theme. What we got was a series of barely tested Stand-Up Comics performing unrelated acts.
Snafu at the venue meant that the show started almost 20 minutes late. Our show was also held in an odd-shaped, tiny room.
Performance: Choose Your Own Documentary
This show was the highlight of our Fringe this year. I remember Choose Your Own Adventure books from when I was a kid. This multi-media performance takes the genre in a new direction. MC Nathan Penlington takes us on a journey of discovery as we seek to find the owner of a few pages ripped from a childhood diary that fall from a collection of Choose Your Own Adventure books procured on Ebay. The audience was entrusted with clickers to select the path the story would take. Majority rules... There are over 1500 possibilities and the story is different each time.
Performance: She was Probably Not a Robot
There seemed to be a post-apocalytic theme running through the Fringe this year. This show was a quirky and endearing one man play about the end of the world with him as the only surviving human.
Venue: Underbelly, Cowgate
One of the premier venues of the Fringe. Located in the heart of Edinburgh, it features 3+ packed stories of musty theatre spaces.
Jarring and poignant, this show features three actors from South Africa playing multiple roles and follows a young boy and his childhood love growing up in the brutal world of apartheid. This show is more traditional and less 'fringy' than others we saw at the festival but very well done and worth checking out.
Venue: Traverse Theatre
A significant hike from the center of town, the theatre is one of the most professional we've seen at the Fringe. The surroundings are quite posh as the theatre is located next to the iconic Usher Hall. LCD monoliths project a variety of scenes outside adding to the atmosphere.
Performance: We are Goose: Will You Hold My Hand?
A musical comedy celebrating the life of 18th century Scottish Surgeon John Hunter. The show was quirky and educational.
When we exited Will You Hold My Hand, we made a wrong turn and ended up wandering into the Foil Arms and Hog sold out show. The actors invited us to stay despite the fact that we were free-loading. Two things prevented us from sticking around (a) I really needed to use the loo (b) we already had tickets to see them during the Dublin Fringe a few weeks later. I wonder if they'll remember us when we see them in Dublin?