Saturday 5th August
For the uninitiated, Fringe festival is the thespian equivalent to Fashion week. Anyone who wants to pretend to be someone simply has to be seen in the Scottish capital. I lost my Fringe virginity two years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Back then I was waving a jazz hand as Liza Minnelli to a crowd of three, this year I have the privilege of reviewing the shows. So whilst I might not be à la drag this time around that doesn’t mean I can’t get my usual Fagulous self in on the action.
So for those who can’t be up here with the Scots, thespians, comedians and vagabonds let me be your go to gay for all the gossip.
After experiencing hell on earth last time I travelled to Edinburgh by taking a 9 hour Megabus, I decided to treat myself this time to a slightly quicker 5 hour train service from Kings Cross to Waverly station. Disappointment all round when Linda the train driver informed us that the trolley service had been cancelled for the day. I was impressed we arrived on time, well done Linda you did us all proud in the end.
Edinburgh is a beautiful City of gothic buildings and deep fried fast food, a perfect combination. Scots that love us theatre luvvies bombarding them once a year embrace us with open arms, the ones that don’t are forced to flee from us yuppies gleefully mincing from venue to venue.
As you walk down the Royal Mile be prepared for a flurry of eager eyed students to chuck as many promo flyers at you as they can. Fringe isn’t complete unless you’re pockets are bulging with half torn leaflets for shows you have no intention of seeing.
That’s the beauty of Fringe, everyone’s here for the same reason and that is to be noticed. Some will, but lots more won’t and there’s no doubt about it everyone will leave empty pocketed gasping with breath from the whirl wind flurry that Fringe causes.
Remember, don’t forget to bring your pac-a-mac, I got caught short at the bus stop outside my Air BnB waiting for the 104 to go back into the city. That’s another point, the buses only take coins. For a London City slicker like me not swiping my iPhone on an oyster card reader feels prehistoric, let alone having to carry exact change.
I’ve already treated myself to a tear jerker show (Dust by Milly Thomas at the Underbelly, would highly recommend) to melt my icy heart. Tomorrow will be my first full day and I’m already planning a full Scottish breakfast of early morning comedy in some of the free Fringe venues.
My wallet is now nicely sorted with change for the bus home- I’m off to a glam press party tonight so must dash and put on a light base.
Sunday 6th August
Always check what day a performance is on. I got caught out this morning when I thought I was going to see a play about a drug addict but ended up seeing a two hander about two dogs having an existential crisis. Swings and roundabouts really.
Popped in to see some ad hoc cabaret, then had a spot of lunch- a coronation chicken sandwich from the Co-op and a packet of haggis flavoured crisps, you can’t say I’m not up for trying the local cuisine.
I had a quick Americano from a local cafe that had an atmosphere of being a location in some bizarre Muriel Spark novel, but at £1.50 a cup you can’t turn your nose up at it. There’s a lovely row of interior design shops that sell lovely little pretty things to waste your money on just along Cockburn Street. The prices are quite cheap really, I might break it to them that they could sell their wares at double the amount in London! One major difference between Edinburgh and London town is the students. Here in Edinburgh they carry themselves with an arty grace that doesn’t smell of the bitter disappointment of crippling rent prices like back home, it’s quite refreshing really.
This will be just a quickie update, for I’m currently trapped in an underground bar that reeks of heterosexuality. A gaggle of middle aged women are shrieking in the corner over a bottle of Pinot Grigio- lord help me!
Monday 7th August
I fell in love with the people of Edinburgh two years ago when I happened to lose my suitcase full of drag on a bus top tour of the city.
The kind Scots managed to track it down and get it back to me all with a cheery smile. Their accent melts my heart and warms my soul, but dear god are they slow walkers. Twice I got trapped behind a dawdling family whilst trying to sprint from venue to venue.
Interesting start to the morning, I watched a musical about the murder of a teenage boy. Luckily I managed to get in at a concessionary rate because the girl at the box office believed me when I lied about still being a student.
A lot of people here at Fringe look vaguely familiar, I saw a comedy show and honestly thought for the first ten minutes of the set that the comedian on stage was Ruth Davidson.
The Edinburgh Cocktail Festival is in full swing, apparently. I popped in but everything looked like it had just come from East London so gave it a pass, had a nice sausage roll though so not all too bad.
Free Fringe throws up some right comedy lark, I dropped in on the gorgeously talented Northern Power Blouse (@ComedyBlouse) girls today who presented their stellar sketch show. They’re definitely a set to watch giving the audience a polyester fiesta of kitsch wigs and campy costumes.
And to another gem who you can see free of charge, I’ll be watching the divine Myra Dubois wrap her caustic tongue around revellers at The Counting House tonight which promises to be a real treat.
Tuesday 8th, Wednesday 9th, Thursday 10th
Fringe fatigue has well and truly set in! I apologise for my unexplained absence, I bet I had you all on tenterhooks anticipating my next pithy column. You must remember I am here on official business, as a member of the press don’t you know…well kind of.
Fringe is so rich with art that it’s often hard to work out what’s best to see. Budding thespians, clowns, musicians and puppeteers will force their flyers at you till your black and blue. They’ll use Derren Brown like techniques to convince you to spend an hour of your time in their company. Sometimes your risk pays off, other times…well you’ll be wondering how best to make your escape for freedom!
I’ve sussed out these selling techniques to such a degree that I should have a qualification in marketing. Read below to work out how to sort the great from the naff
Comedians will peddle their shows in two ways,
- They’ll offer the worst review they’ve ever received in an attempt to seem nonchalant and witty, with the right comedian this can work wonders, but choose wisely!
- ‘Come see this [insert adjective] improv show about Trump/ May/ Boris Johnson [delete where appropriate]’
‘A theatre show about life’ will be the calling words of a naive guy trying to sell his hastily written show. You’ll take sympathy on the poor boy, like yourself he had a dream once…
Dancers will look you straight in the eye and guilt trip you into watching them prance around a crumbling stage, you’ll wonder how on earth they can get their legs up that high…you’ll probably also try and reenact the routine when you get back to your lodgings.
Musicians will shyly cower in the corner hoping, waiting for someone to approach them to advertise their one hour flute recital. If the show’s free I highly recommend you take up the offer it’ll make you feel cultured and that’s what Fringe is all about.
Puppets, creepy puppets everywhere. Watch out on the Royal Mile as a string of marionettes slowly bumble towards you. Lets be honest though, the only people bringing children to the Fringe are Guardian readers, so they’ll probably love it.
‘It’s a musical like no other’ claims every budding Elaine Paige throwing her jazz hands around on the Royal Mile. Harmless, but at 10.00am in the morning a full gusto of show tunes is not my particular cup of tea.
As my Edinburgh journey comes to an end, there’s a nagging sense that I wish I had seen more, but it’s obviously impossible to see everything. Edinburgh Fringe swallows you up and can often make you feel lost, but rest assured the friendly Edinburgh folk will soon have you back on your way. I think it takes a couple of Fringe trips to really feel like you’re doing it properly.
On this Edinburgh journey I’ve discovered that carrying a venti soya latte gives you a superior sense of entitlement which has helped no end with my nagging ‘why-aren’t-I-doing-a-show-at-the-fringe-will-someone-please-validate-me’ anxiety.
I’ve seen some wonderful shows, Newsrevue, Northern Power Blouse, Myra Dubois to name but a few. There’s been some wonderfully terrible shows too, a 58 year old woman wielding an accordion singing about her vagina, a 30 minute drama about a banker who can’t get an erection e.t.c. That’s the fun of the fringe, you throw yourself in and you’ll never know what you’ll end up diving into.
Fringe should be on everyone’s bucket list, even if you’re a non theatre/arty/wanky luvvie. The comedy on offer is stellar and nothing can beat prowling around the Pleasance courtyard and doing some light minor celeb spotting. I’m super excited for next year’s fringe even if that is 52 weeks away!
If you’ve enjoyed these blog make sure you follow me on @the_fagulous…who knows I might write more soon!