Here's what I saw in chronological order, because that's how I roll (and also how it is written down in my notebook)
Harriet Braine, "Total Eclipse Of The Art"
My train was delayed so I had to book it from the station to this show. It was an excellent way to start off my fringe experience, a free show by a charming and adequate comic. Her schtick was art "lectures" done through parody song. My favorite was "Monet is not Manet" done to the tune of ABBA's "money money money"
Liz Richardon, "Gutted"
A one woman show about having ulcerative colitis. She played a multitude of characters- nurses, friends, people in the hospital with her- but when it came to the characters closest to her (her mother, her husband) she invited people from the audience up, bribing them with beer and cakes, and had them read from greeting cards that had dialog written in to them.
The stage had several toilets and the floor was linoleum, easy to clean up. She kept pulling yogurts from the toilets and casually eating them or splurting them on the floor. At one point, during a voice over about uncontrollable bloody stool, she pulled out a full bottle of ketchup and a full bottle of brown sauce and proceeded to squeeze them out in a puddle on the floor and then wipe it all over herself. The stench and visceral grossness of that is nothing compared to what she actually experienced, and it was extraordinarily evocative.
At the end, speaking for herself for the first time instead of through a voice over, she said "I won't have anyone say anything bad about the NHS. Imagine putting a price on my quality of life." And I know I was the only American in the room because it was a small audience and we'd all gone up to read the greeting cards at one point or another. Also, I was the only person who started crying at that line. Because, yeah: imagine.
Aaron Twitchen, "Keep On Twitchen"
My friend Jonah and I didn't communicate clearly enough about what we were doing the first night I was in Edinburgh, so by the time we sorted it out the two shows he recommended had already been sold out. Jonah said I could choose whatever I wanted, which is how we ended up at a gay circus stand-up act!
There were moments of utter brilliance in the show, mostly when Aaron was upside down in aerial silks and casually still doing standard stand up fare. However he also tried to pull the whole show together with an emotional story that didn't quite land and sometimes would be on the ground doing mediocre stand up. Take your gimmick and run with it, please!
Aaron was a charming performer, and I think this show could have benefited from a director and a shorter running time.
Gein's Family Giftshop: Volume 3
I had a ticket to a different show during this time, but I had just met Jonah's girlfriend Amy (so lovely!) and she wanted to go to this show, so we did! And I'm glad we did because it was great. Excellently acted sketch comedy, seamless transitions, deeply engaging stage presence, and an unexpected amount of nudity...
There were two actors who were crouched on the side of the stage for the entire show, only to be used briefly for one gag near the end when a shirt had gotten covered in goo- one of them leapt up, grabbed and replaced the shirt as though they were ball boys during Wimbledon. That was it. For an entire hour long show, crouching....I told them good job as we left the theater.
My friends Chris and Molly have a new baby named Joseph, so we all got together and went to a children's musical. We made bets before the show started about how many children would wander onto the stage over the course of the show, and I thought I was in with a chance with 4. Molly's friend won though with a dead-on accurate prediction of 6. So impressive! My favourite was the little red-headed toddler who made a break for it right before the final number- he ran ALL OVER the stage and was clearly thrilled with all of the attention. Cutie pie.
I think the fact that this entire section is about the children and not the show tells you everything you need to know about that.
Theatre Re, "The Nature Of Forgetting
Physical theater/devised theater/dance piece about a 55 year old man with early on set dementia. Heartbreaking, beautiful, expertly done. The whole show was devised over two years and the music was done at the same time as the choreography, very clearly making a whole piece instead of components. Interesting stage work and costuming choices and so highly physical I genuinely don't know how the main character is surviving doing this show every day for a month.
I'd write more, but I found the whole thing very artistically inspiring and I haven't totally processed it yet. If you'd like to hear the soundtrack though, I have a copy!
Max Dickins, "The Man On The Moor"
I was taking so many recommendations from people about shows to see that I'm really not sure how I got turned onto this show, but suffice to say I knew nothing about it going in. This was maybe a problem.
Solo show about a man whose father has been missing for twenty years. It took me until somewhere between half-way and two-thirds of the way through the show to realize that this was fictional and not the actor/writer's own experience. More power to him, it was very convincing, but then I felt betrayed. It turns out that I believe solo shows should be about the actor's personal experience, that somehow if you are the only person on the stage, you had better be telling your story.
Here's what I wrote in my notebook after the show about realizing this was fictionalized: "I got..angry? Disappointed? I was so invested in this man's actual journey from heart broken inability to grieve because his father disappeared to someone who could make and perform this show - and then it turned out that that wasn't true. I'm sure it was high researched and "true" but it wasn't Max Dickin's story."
Also, I had gone immediately from a show about early on-set dementia to a show that reminded me viscerally of Austin, so afterwards I discovered just how challenging it is to find a concealed nook to cry in in Edinburgh during the fringe.
Bec Hill: Out Of Order
Bec Hill is the kind of stand up that I would be honored to be considered with. She's delightful, clever, positive, silly, and makes flip chart pop up books that would have made me laugh and laugh if I wasn't already kind of broken by the previous shows I'd seen that day. That being said, I enjoyed the heck out of her and it was so pleasing to be at a show that was intentionally and explicitly designed to not only be positive during the show, but to carry that positivity out into the festival/world.
I followed this show by sitting in some grass and having some quiet time (I still had two more shows that day!) but accidentally went online and saw Trump threatening nuclear war. There may have been more crying. (I had a really wonderful time in Edinburgh, but also a really overwhelming time.)
How To Win Against History
A musical about Henry Cyril Paget, played with wide eyed, enthusiastic, oblivious glee. I made friends with Barbara, the woman stood next to me in line, and we conspired to sit in the front row center and then talk about our experiences with the festival. She's been going for years and agrees that 4 is really the maximum number of shows you can see in one day and still function (this was my fifth of the day) The whole show was a sequined, glittery joy and I barked with laughter through the whole thing. (Such a relief!) My other seat neighbor whose name I've forgotten complimented me on my laugh after the show and I told her how six years ago I'd accidentally stopped show by laughing too loud and startling the comedians.
Rose Matafeo: Sassy Best Friend
I met up with my first ever improv teacher (Alex), my best buddy from that class (Jonah), and my best buddy from the next series of improv classes (Chris) in the courtyard before this show. What a wonderful joy that was!
Then I scampered off to go see Rose Matafeo, who is brilliant and a little baby in her early 20s. She'd make an excellent double header with Bec Hill; both charming, thoughtful, funny, fun, enthusiastic, insightful, explicitly intersectional comics. Her hour long set was tight and engaging and when she burst into song or dance the tech was dead on. I had a wonderful time. There was no crying. She had a label maker so I have a hot pink sticker now that says "CASEY COOL" in a crocodile. Because, sure.
Juliana Capes, "Earthly Bodies"
Jules is friends with my friend Emma and she hooked me up with the AirBnB that I stayed in. I hadn't met her, so I made a point to go to Lady Stairs Close where she was making an installation of constellations found in littered chewing gum on the pavement. She's lovely and we talked a lot about created ritual and the belief implicit within that.
Jonah and Amy have a show creating improvised Enid Blyton books. It was very british and charming. I had a black currant lollipop handed to me at the beginning of the show, and enjoyed myself thoroughly. I was particularly taken with their show naming and suggestion taking conventions: for suggestions, the most annoying part of any improv show, they asked people in the queue to draw on note cards either something that didn't exist during the 1940s or a childhood nightmare. Then those cards were put into two dice that had clear pockets and rolled to choose. (We ended up with the Concorde jet, but all of the other faces of the "things that didn't exist in the 1940s" die were cell phones. Literally ALL OF THE OTHER PICTURES, which is amazing.) The title of the show started with one cast member saying a word in the title, then each additional cast member could move the existing words and add one of their own. It was a great little game and in this case caused "Cliff" to alternate in meaning between a rock face and a character's name.
Okay! That's it! Then I got on a train and went back to Penrith! Thanks for joining this rendition of "stuff Casey saw in Edinburgh!"