Friday, September 30, 2011

Edinburgh Mini-reviews

In Edinburgh I had a notebook where I constantly wrote down things to remember. Here are a selection of my mini-reviews I wrote that week. I'm pretty sure these are in order of what we saw. I should also point out that I have typed verbatim what I wrote that week and so I make no promises about comprehensibility. 

“Answer Me This,” podcast book signing (free book fringe)
Lovely and wonderful and kind of charmingly brilliant. We sat way in the front row and first they asked if anyone didn't know who they were. Egged on by Kevin, I raised my hand. They then proceeded to spend most of the show explaining asides to me, “festivals, they're these things that happen in the summer...” They also explained The Blitz, and Bovril. It was funny, and I'm not gonna lie, not always unhelpful. They were excellent at calling back to earlier jokes and were a delight to watch REALLY close up. The panel finished with Ollie singing to me his musical version of 'The Wanderer' that he'd made up in college to help him pass his English lit degree. I blushed. It was awesome.

Super fun sweaty excellence. Lots of older Scots in swingy kilts and a lovely and adorable German scientist with charmingly mismatched dancing parents who were in Scotland to visit her. The caller made a bunch of mildly racist comments. Stretching outside afterwards led to a drunken mooning by a Scotsman. His friends bundled him into a cab and waved as they drove away. End result? Total endorphin high and beer and nachos. Oh! And Greek Dancing! With a surprise bridge move! That was fun. Kevin and I are musicians and therefore had mad rhythm skillz.

Interpretive Dances to My Diary (72% non-Fiction), devised show
These guys come from Neo Futurists stock and it definitely shows. Short, choppy, punchy bits put together for something that felt complete. The show was small, intimate, and clever. It worked best when they were relaxed and interacting with the audience rather than doing their 'actor voices'. A charming bit about first kisses and an EXCELLENT recurring bit where they pulled 'and' sentences out of a fishbowl. “and...slow mo dance break.” or “and...when I said I loved you for the first time, it was an accident, not a mistake.” They seemed like my kind of people, but maybe a little more...actorly. Multi-media, good use of sound clips, lovely text animation, chopped carrots, and bright red jump suits.

Music Box Impro, Improvised Musical
We sat in the 3rd row or so after waiting a while in the onsite bar and falling a little in love with the venue. (It felt like a slumber party in a lot of ways.) Music Box had us chat to the people sat next to us to come up with locations for the musical- result? Zombie Pompeii. (“I've never seen anyone cross their fingers for a suggestion before!”) Supremely silly, spotty singing, excellent calling of mistakes, (“I'm very stupid.”) goofy song about how a zombie can't smell z-o-m-b-i-e, and a plan for zombies to run and international coffee cartel (“using manage business!”). Dancing magma when Vesuvius blew up and a head zombie named...Boris? Wonderful lesbian busybodies. Good fun.

Soldier and Death- Relief Theatre, Puppetry
A Slavic tale of a soldier battling Death with magical items like cards that will never let you lose and a sack that will compel anything in to it. Small, wooden puppets and a young, thin cast. (Seriously, their belts were wrapping twice around some of them.) I kept wanting to call the production ernest, but that wasn't quite the right word. Kevin came up with “sincere” and that settled in just fine. It was a very sincere production. We chatted briefly afterwards and discovered that they're all students at Edinburgh Uni and this was their first time working with puppets. Charming more than excellent.

Sarah Millican- Thoroughly Modern Millican, stand up
Gosh she's cute. She's really really cute. She had a signer translating her show which was HILARIOUS- particularly when Sarah made her repeat things “I want to see what Katherine did for Tugging....” Mellifluous, mellow Geordie accent. An exercise bit where she wanted a video called “fat lass as a go” and its sequel, “fat lass tries again.” She talked about poo and called people 'flower.' Charming.

Dave Gorman's Powerpoint Presentation, stand up 
Brilliant. Totally awesome and fabulous. First hour long show that didn't DRAG anywhere. And so funny! And cute! And clever! 10:08 is a happy time. Graphs about punching above his weight. And an epic explanation of how many many people think he is jewish. He made me love the internet more than I already do. Dave Gorman + Social Networking FTW (Rick Stavios)

Lady Cariad's Characters, stand up 
Small, crowded, sweaty room that we snuck into after apologising to the Music Box folks for leaving them and not going to their show. They said it was okay since Lady Cariad was so good. And she was, I mean, fine. Cute characters and clearly enjoying herself. I enjoyed the parkour guy character the best, I think because he was the most clearly not her. Fun, but not the most amazing thing ever. Maybe suffering from the trouble that being immediately after Dave Gorman is? Lovely that we got squeezed in though.

Picture Book Perfect, Children's book panel, book festival
Viv! Yay Viv! I don't like book festivals, I want to be entertained, not told to buy more things. That being said, getting to know Viv has meant an incredible uptick in my interest in illustration. Especially in the process of making a book. Super cool. She and Levi were weirdly mismatched stylistically. Weirdly. Viv was simultaneously awkward and totally in control. She painted some emotional animals, a toddler bopped around with some purple headphones and an iPhone, Levi showed some gorgeous tempura paintings, and Kevin bought “There Are No Cats In This Book” after participating in the inaugural “reactions to Viv's books” video I made him make. She wanted to make a book personification of a cat. I think maybe she succeeded. Yay, concept books!

Give the Fig a Roll- Queen Mary Theatre Company
I hated this show, but apparently I didn't really get it- so here is someone else's review.

Couch Impro, sketch improvisation
Tired, a bit shaken from the Fig show and desperately hungry it was so excellent to be greeted, taken to the venue (which was warm and relatively quiet and filled with older, comfortable Brits drinking in a way that made you certain you'd be called 'pet' at some point) realising that I knew half the cast, having someone come up and say they'd seen me perform in London, well, I felt welcome and unclenched my muscles... Amazing that I went to the show based on the description in the guide. They were great- the best three headed expert I've seen, excellent calling of absurdity, a wonderful genre switching bit, and a lot of quick thinking. Using the audience's anonymous relationship problems as a starting point was a brilliant way to hang a short from show together. It totally worked. Then they asked it I was here with a a show. "" A woman named Silvia was my favourite.

Stream of Piffle, Taking the Piff, sketch show
Was that mimed rape joke really necessary?  I appreciated the big words and the Macbeth sketch was great, but having two women in your cast does not excuse you from misogyny.

Beowulf, musical retelling of said epic poem
I want to have made this. Barring that I am delighted to have seen it. We sat with one of the Ryans from "Interpretive dances of my diary" who recognised us in the queue. (The show was in a wooden music hall tent I played in at the Brighton Fringe when Latana sang Milhaud.) The acting was fabulous (Grendel and his mother were particularly riveting) they made extraordinary use of the space. SO well written and SO well sold. Wow. Just, wow. Beowulf was basically The Dude from Big Lebowski, the back up singers had PIPES, they did epic battles through thumb wrestling, I identified with Grendel's mother, the underwater fight with the buckets, the beer streaming down Grendel's shirt signifying his switch from narrator to monster, just wow, wow, wow. Kevin and I both want to work with them (horses and swords, horses and swords, horses and swords..and HORSES ed. This is a song I've had periodically stuck in my head since we saw the show) Oh! And the Old English Song at the end: I was annoyed with the academic character by that point, (glasses are awesome. Hmmph.) but then she sang the song (as the dragon) and Kevin is right, it was the sexiest thing ever. I was giddy at the end so while Kevin networked I made Grendel nervous and then hugged him. Not. Awkward. At. All.

Catie Wilkings: Chip off the odd block, stand up
A small audience in a small venue. She was charming and middling. Excellent concept of anti-semantic jokes. She said we had brilliant laughs. Meh.

Prepare to Be Tuned: Anyone For Tennis? Musical comedy duo
Not quite Flight of the Conchords but super cute songs- also, excellent random asides (the ghostly voice they just ignored, the penguin suit). Definitely worth YouTubing. God that was embarrassing when they were thrown by how loud our laughs were... (TIME PORTAL IN OUR LOUNGE ed. this is a song that has been periodically stuck in Kevin's head since we saw the show.)

Nina Conti, ventriloquist
Ventriloquism! Wonderful ventriloquism. Foul mouthed monkey, poetic owl, prank calling grandma, and a roving accent. Nina is very good at cracking up- thereby totally holding the illusion while at the same time using the puppets' voices to point out that it is all just her. Good improv with the audience and the wonderful dancer at the end! How great was he?? Also, the clearly adulterous couple in the front row (dude! don't announce it!)

Constance and Sinestra, musical
We checked the time more than once. The first time only halfway through the show. They clearly really liked Sweeney Todd and the space (site specific as it was) was good- but there were no characterisations, I couldn't sing you ANY snippets of any of the songs, they told everything and showed nothing, they killed a character in the least dramatic way possible, they didin't utilise the instruments and it was just so. damn. shouty. Stupid and boring. But the taxidermied mother had pipes.

Baby Wants Candy, improvised musical
This wasn't our last show, but we're pretending it was. A whole musical about the festival, on the last night of the festival, made by people who've been at the whole festival, for people who've been working the festival. It was so cozy and familial and full of in-jokes with fabulous singing, a weirdly evil plot, and  a pub full of Scotsmen all named Ewan. So much fun.

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