Picks of the Edinburgh Fringe 2014

My regular readers know that we love the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and have made it an annual tradition to pop over for a few days from Dublin to check out the line-up (see 2013 and 2012 write-ups here).
Edinburgh fills up to the brim with Fringe-goers and performers with every Bed and Breakfast within 45 minutes of town sporting a 'no vacancy' sign.
There are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of shows on every day during the month of August.  All the performances are about an hour in length so the time investment is minimal if you happen to hit a dud.  This year was a bit riskier for us since we attended the opening weekend of the festival.  On the positive side, it's definitely easier to get tickets, on the negative, we didn't have the benefit of copious 4 and 5 star reviews to help point us to the good stuff.  Here's a review of what we saw in 2014:  11 shows in 2.5 days.

Performance:   Low Tide in Glass Bay  Three Star Rating Clip Art
A slice of life and coming of age story centered around two Welsh lesbians and their recently orphaned teenage niece.  The piece was performed in a straight-up stage play format which you don't see very often at the Fringe.  The performance was put on by Deadpan Theatre.  The troupe was incredibly talented and the show was a good mix of humorous and heartfelt.

Performance: Character Limit One Star Rating Clip Art
This show was a modern musical performed at the Ctoo venue.  There were sound issues, most of the characters were not likable and the subject-matter went just a bit too far centering on the denigration of women including one in particular who Vlogs about her feminist views.  Any show featuring a song like 'Be my Gimp' is bound to be controversial.  This one was just too uncomfortable for me.

Performance:  The Factory Four Star Rating Clip Art
Perhaps the format was a bit mainstream for the Fringe but this toe-tapping musical at the classic venue Assembly Hall tackled more weighty subject-matter.  A troupe from the South Pacific showcased the challenges of life in 1970s New Zealand for immigrants from the islands.  The performers were skilled dancers and singers although the songs did stray into diva-riffs territory a few times which is why I'm leaving this at 4-stars instead of five.

Performance:  Sketch Bingo Three Star Rating Clip Art
Sketch comedy and Bingo, the perfect combination for the Fringe!  Each number pulled represented a specific skit or audience participation game.  Part of the Free Fringe, you simply can't put a value on audience members in a double-wide t-shirt eating a banana off the floor without using their hands.  The venue was very warm which sucked a bit of the energy out of the room but still this is worthwhile entertainment.  Go see it!

Performance:  Sleeping Beauty Five Star Rating Clip Art
We absolutely loved this show.  Colette Garrigan tells the story of her rough upbringing in Liverpool in a fairy tale format complete with puppetry, tricks of the light, and seamlessly interwoven French.  We were riveted from start to finish.  This very personal one woman show at the Institut français d'Ecosse is not to be missed and epitomizes what the Fringe is all about!

Performance:  Prompter Two Star Rating Clip Art
A cross between improv and stand-up, this show featured experienced comedians tackling unknown subject matter.  TED style talks were prepared on preposterous subjects. At various points during the talk, the teleprompter went blank and the comedian had to improvise the talk until the prompter resumed.  It was actually fairly funny.  However, the subject-matter was a bit off-putting and covered things like Hitler and inbreeding.  I think the show would have more widespread appeal if the ideas were merely preposterous rather than straying into the offensive.

Performance:  Lizzy Mace 'Overlooked'  Four Star Rating Clip Art
A one-woman sketch show featuring an intelligent style of comedy and a wide range of characters performed with skill.  All the bits were tied together by the fact that they featured someone 'overlooked' (e.g., the Bronte sisters silent writing partner).  This was a great show but I fear that Lizzy Mace herself is being overlooked as the audience was much smaller than she deserved.  I myself overlooked the chance to take a photo of the stage or venue ;-)

Performance: Cook and Davies Present: Planet Earth and All Who Sailed in Her Two Star Rating Clip Art
Low budget is the best way I can describe this performance.  The lads get an 'A' for effort and gave it their all to a very small audience.  Focused on the last two survivors of earth's destruction and told from the perspective of a space-ship based talk show, it was a little bit nerdy, a little bit campy but overall fell a bit short.

Performance:  Darkle  Three Star Rating Clip Art
I needed a stiff whisky after this performance. This play is about three immature residents of a rundown apartment in England as they take revenge on their tabloid loving landlord.  It was extremely well-acted but the subject matter was frankly repugnant.  The revenge involves a sinister plot against a very cute dog that strays into pure evil.  I was definitely a bit traumatized after this one and was thinking about it for days.  This kind of show is definitely what the Fringe is all about.  However, I just couldn't get past how much I disliked the characters (other than the landlord and his dog!) so putting this in at 3-stars.   Worth seeing but be prepared to be disturbed.

Performance:  Foster's So You Think You're Funny? Three Star Rating Clip Art
We ran into a guy I know on the airplane over from Dublin and heard that he'd made the final 'heats' of 'So You Think You're Funny' in Edinburgh and decided to go and cheer him on.  We were treated to an hour and a half of (mostly) high quality stand-up from up and coming comedians.  While Manu didn't win :-( his bit was funny and intelligent focusing on the thought experiment what if church was a bookclub?  I imagine the 7 heats can be 'hit or miss' depending on who is performing but we definitely got lucky with the line-up the night we went.
Performance:  The Big Bite-Size Breakfast Plays Four Star Rating Clip Art
Highly recommended!  We went to see 'The Big Bite-Size Breakfast Plays' for a second year running.  Each 'menu' features five (generally comedic) plays and comes with a croissant and coffee.  Even on a Monday just after opening weekend, the show was essentially sold-out.  Book early or you'll miss out.  The plays we saw featured a ukulele playing 'Answer Man', a washed up Godzilla nemesis (Mothra), and an alternative take on film noir complete with saxophonist.
The Edinburgh Fringe runs for the month of August each year.  We highly recommend making time for a weekend city break in Edinburgh to get in on the fun!

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Picks of the Edinburgh Fringe 2014
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