Edinburgh 2012 – Day 4 of 8 (Tue 7th Aug)

At the start of the week the challenge was set, and today it was achieved. The old record was broken, and an new WR and PB has been recorded. Tuesday 7th August 2012 will go down in history as The Eleven Show Day.

Yep, that’s right dear reader, today we crammed 11 shows into the day, starting at 10am and finishing up around 3am the next morning. Three kids shows started us off: The Ugly Duckling, SuperJohn, and The Magician’s Daughter. This last one in particular, based around The Tempest and produced by Little Angel Theatre in association with the RSC, was excellent. The Ugly Duckling, incidentally, was on at C venues, where there were yet more cock-ups on the organisational front. Show started late, and the venue location printed on the ticket was incorrect so we were sent to the wrong place, and were only informed of this by a disjointed announcement over the tanoy. So my day began by barging into the C Venue press & marketing office and telling them to get their shit together. (I didn’t use those words mind. I’m British; I’m very polite and apologetic when I complain.)

Next was The Prize, produced by Live Theatre Newcastle, and featuring a good mate of mine, Chris Connel. While waiting to go in to see it I bumped into another good mate of mine from Sunderland, which was nice. We waited to speak to Chris in the bar after the show, but were told by another cast member that he’d shot straight off, because apparently he’s commuting from Newcastle every day! And apparently it’s a lot cheaper than you might suspect. That made me think, to be honest; I might be tempted to bring a show up here next year – especially if I could commute from Sunderland every day.

John, dedicated flyerer and Font Hunter

Another thing that happened while we were waiting to going in to see this show was we were flyered about a show produced by the Old Vic in London.  I asked the guy if he knew the name of the font used by the Old Vic on all their publicity.  (It was just a passing thought, that came from a conversation I’d been having with a designer friend recently).  He didn’t know, but he actually made the effort of going to find the producer of the shows and asking him.  This was way beyond the remit of any flyerer, and I take my hat off to him.  (It’s a custom font, apparently.  You can google it.)

Morgan & West, the time-travelling Victorian magicians, were next. I remember seeing these guys every day last year, flyering on the Royal Mile while I was there with Don’t Trust Salmon. They looked intriguing as they flyered and chatted to people in their great Victorian costumes. Unfortunately we never got a chance to see them last year so I was pleased to catch them today. And our Helen got chosen from the audience to help in a trick. I figured out how they did it, to be honest, but that’s part of the attraction of going to a magic show, isn’t it?

Now, if you know me, or follow me on social networks, you’ll have heard me banging on about sketch group Clever Peter in the past. I saw their first show here at the fringe back in 2007 and have followed them ever since. Doing shows with some of them as part of Salmon last year were a real privilege for me. Although the group aren’t here this year, Blue Clever Peter is: Ed Eales-White has his debut solo show, Champions. A character comedy piece in which he plays a bunch of, well, losers really, but all are champions in their own way. As you’d expect, it’s a great show. I recommend it.

Have you heard the London Underground song? You must have done. It’s to the tune of Paul Weller’s Going Underground and it basically slags off the inadequacy of the London transport system and its workers. It went viral a few years back, and everybody was talking about it and playing it and sampling it. The guy who recorded it, Adam Kay, has a show which is basically more of the same (singing new, funny lyrics to popular recognisable songs), which are interspersed with tales of his previous life as an anaesthetist and stories of his failure to find love. I admired the brazen way he kept nicking various vessels of alcohol from the front row and drinking it throughout the show, and I warmed to him a lot – especially when he made up a song on the spot about my Ferris Bueller t shirt.

Next we saw Richard Herring‘s show. It (and he) is brilliant. See it if you can.

The Boy With Tape On His Face and Steve Shanyaski’s Life Survival Bible were the last two shows of the day before we went back to our flat to get ready for our 11th show, Late ‘n’ Live. The line-up was no-one we’d ever heard of, which is fine, but the nature of the show is that it can be hit and miss, and this one was mostly miss. In fact, I went off looking for more beer and in doing so I found a piano bar where the pianist from Showstoppers was playing. So I stayed there instead, requesting a jazzed up version of an REM song.

I’ll tell you what I noticed very strongly today mind: the seemingly ever-increasing commercialisation of the fringe. It’s getting more expensive, more corporate, and I don’t like it. The ‘big four’ feel more and more aloof – you might have read Stewart Lee’s article in the Guardian about it last week. There’s definitely a different ‘feel’ about this fringe to previous ones I’ve been to. If you’re coming any time this year I would suggest that you read your brochure in some detail, and seek out some of the lesser known venues, see what’s on offer, what grabs your interest. That’s what I’m going to do a lot more of from now on…

Shows seen today: 11
Running Total: 28


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