I’ve been looking forward to this! Our first visit to the Edinburgh Fringe, when we tentatively put our toes in to see how it felt, was a long weekend in August 2014. We loved it. So we went for a week in 2015. And in 2016. And 17. And 18. And 19. And… then Covid happened. No Fringe in 2020, and no Fringe (for us) in 2021. But this is the Brave New World of 2022. If we get through the entire month Covid-free it will be a miracle, but here goes.
Instead of my previous practice of writing a pre-blog for each show we see, this time I’m going to write just one blog a day, previewing the show’s we will see the next day, and then following up with updates as to how good each show was. I’ll update just once a day, at the end of the evening – or maybe the following morning, depending on how knackered we are. It’s gotta be worth a shot – let’s start here!
Here’s the schedule for 5th August:
10.40 – Head Girl, The Space on North Bridge. From the Edinburgh Fringe website:
“A coming-of-age story about falling in and out of love with yourself. Head Girl navigates the 21st century and girl boss mentality, whilst still practising self-care seven days a week. Becca is running in the campaign for head girl at school and running herself into the ground, all with a smile on her face. But who is she doing all this work for? A platonic love story that will be full of adoration and careful ambition. ‘Fringe Theatre at its best’ (NorthEastTheatreGuide.co.uk). ‘In awe’ (BBC Radio).”
Performed by the group “Girl Next Door”, this is either going to be a funny and charming introduction to our Fringe Odyssey or a bit of a weak start. I’ll tell you later.
UPDATE: A great start to the day with a very funny and beautifully performed play about 17 year old Becca’s quest to become head girl, even if it means making unacceptable sacrifices to get there. There’s definitely a lesson to be learned here – not to work too hard and to remember the things that are important. Very nice characterisations, I loved the gawky super-enthusiastic Becca and the contrast with her more sophisticated pal and teacher. Great family entertainment which should appeal to anyone who’s ever tried to juggle with a burning ambition! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
12.45 – Colossal, Underbelly Cowgate.
“’Ferociously funny’ ***** (Scotsman). Following his sold-out, five-star debut show, The Man, Patrick McPherson returns to Edinburgh with Colossal: a one-man comedy play that dives into love stories, morality, and the dance between the two. Colossal weaves sketch comedy, gig theatre and spoken word to tell the comedic and candid story of a man called Dan, his affinity for owls, and his messy recent past. An hour of dynamic theatre, comedy and music, that embraces the spectrum of modern romance, from the first date to the last text, from falling headfirst to falling apart.”
We’ve seen Patrick McPherson twice at the Fringe and he’s been absolutely brilliant. If this isn’t also brilliant, I’ll eat my hat.
UPDATE: I predict another massive word of mouth success for Patrick’s latest creation. Incredibly beautiful writing reminds you of the hip hop rhythms of Hamilton, whilst telling his own very individual story of love and deception. So many brilliant callbacks, so many surprises. Patrick turns his likeable persona inside out and challenges the audience to stick with him. And we sure do.
14.25 – Hannah Fairweather: Just a Normal Girl Who Enjoys Revenge, Just the Tonic at The Caves.
“Award-winning comedian Hannah Fairweather is the Taylor Swift of comedy, joking about those who have previously wronged her. Hannah was 2019 Rising Star New Act of the Year, and semi-finalist in multiple new comedian awards including: BBC New Comedian Award, So You Think You’re Funny, Leicester Square, 2Northdown, Komedia Brighton. She has been heard on Union Jack Radio, BBC Sounds and Radio 4 and has written for The Now Show and Mock The Week. ‘Hannah mixes relaxed, confident stage presence with some killer subversive gags. Absolutely one to watch’ (Joe Lycett).”
I know nothing about Hannah Fairweather but I like the title of the show – so this is hopefully a lucky punt.
UPDATE: Hannah explains why the name of the show isn’t perhaps as appropriate as it could be, as she lists all the people who have done her wrong, but it’s not as straightforward as that! Very enjoyable material with great use of callback – I have the toilet roll messages to prove it (you had to be there). Very likeable and engaging; I missed out on some of her gems because she delivered them so quickly, but that’s probably my ears playing up. ⭐️⭐️⭐️
16.15 – Badgers Can’t Be Friends, Greenside @ Nicolson Square.
“Runner-up for Best Comedy at Standing Ovation Awards 2021. ‘Mrs Kirkham comes up to my classroom at lunch and sees… And sees us… Having a ninja battle’. When Mr. Dennis, a super-teacher, hits back at the education system, he finds himself becoming a not-so-super hero. Who is he fighting for? Will he triumph? And can he find that weird smell in his kitchen? After Southwark Playhouse and King’s Head Theatre, this phenomenon finally lands at Edinburgh. An offbeat comedy with a serious edge. ‘A riveting play with relentless energy… very, very funny’ ***** (LondonPubTheatres.com).”
Another one that’s either a sure-fire hit or disappointing dud, but I’ve got a good feeling about this one – I think there’s more to it than just a quirky title.
UPDATE: The central premise of the play creates a very interesting topic – a man who destroys his life by acting before thinking and makes himself look like a laughing stock. However, the three very hard-working actors can’t disguise that the play itself is rather stodgy, with almost too many ideas in it, and in the end it becomes rather hard work for the audience too. There are some rather surreal sequences that weren’t to my taste. There’s a good play lurking beneath the surface but it didn’t really do it for us. ⭐️⭐️
19.00 – Lew Fitz: Soft Lad, Gilded Balloon Teviot
“Amused Moose New Comic winner and BBC New Comedy Award-nominated northerner Lew had a breakdown and ran away from home, forever. With explosive comedic energy and a rare vulnerability, he attempts to reconcile his past and face his present. With sell-out previews, catch this rising star whilst you can. As seen on BBC3, heard on BBC Radio 4 and voted Top 5 Jokes of the Fringe (Guardian, Dave TV, Telegraph). ‘As a newcomer he’s ticking lots of boxes’ (Chortle.co.uk). ‘An engaging comic with smart and freshly funny material’ (Kate Copstick, Scotsman).”
Lew Fitz is new to us, but he comes highly recommended, so this is another punt that I’m hopeful will be a good’un.
UPDATE: Lew was keen to point out this was a preview show so no reviews, but I’ve no reason not to write about his very enjoyable hour which includes quite a bit of audience participation – he got me involved writing down his best bon mots as he spoke them – where he takes us on a journey from his childhood in Moss Side, through a sports scholarship in North Carolina, to grown up life in beautiful Croydon. On the way, we investigate greatest fears and an impossibly inappropriate nursery rhyme. He’s a quirky, very likeable guy who puts us all at our ease, and it’s a very funny show! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
21.25 – Ben Clover: Best Newcomer, C Arts C Venues C Piccolo.
“Veteran stand-up comic Ben Clover returns with his seventh show: Best Newcomer. Ben has many successful Fringe runs under his belt, but this is his first in 2022. This year the award-winning comedian tackles the big themes as well as sweating the small stuff. ‘A delight… Inventive and savvy’ (Chortle.co.uk). ‘Comedy gold’ (Bruce Dessau, Evening Standard). ‘A magnificent performance’ (NottsComedyReview.wordpress.com).”
We saw Ben Clover at the Fringe in 2018 and really enjoyed his show so I have high expectations that this will also be a winner!
UPDATE: And the evening ended with a great show from Ben Clover, who included anti-vaxxers, Prince Andrew and Boris Johnson in his material and it all landed perfectly. The show contained an early contender for best line of the Fringe; I won’t spoil it for you but we’re still chuckling back at the apartment. He delivers his routine with apparently effortless ease, although I’m sure most of it scrupulously hand-crafted. A fantastic show, highly recommended. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Tomorrow’s schedule is already out there on another blog post. But today was a great start!