Saturday 9 September 2006

Scotland 2006 - Days 1 & 2 - Edinburgh Fringe!

This year as our annual big week long outing we joined Stephen's parents in Scotland for two days of what is perhaps the largest art festival on the planet, <a href="">The Fringe</a>, and then 5 days of touring, mostly in the Highlands.

Fringe was intense - 7 shows in 2 days, none of it like anything else.  A quick run down:

Thursday mid-day was <i>Devil's Advocate</i> which was a play based around the events leading to the surrender of General Noriega, specifically focused on his relation with the Archbishop Jose Laboa (The Guardian's review can be found <a href=",,1641945,00.html">here</a>. if anyone is interested).  As for me, while I agree that it was a good play in that it really made people think (and was the root of some really good conversation for our group),  I didn't like it, though I did in principle agree with the gist of what they were trying to say.  2 hours without an intermission is quite intense anyway.  But in the end, glad that I saw it.

Thursday afternoon was <i>The Adventures of Bitter and Twisted</i>, a little bit of puppetry and music around a typically Gothic style story.  Cute and fun, which was exactly what we needed after the hefty piece of theatre earlier.

Thursday evening was the ever memorable <i>Havana Rumba</i> (good 3rd party review can be found <a href="">here</a>).  I was expecting something in more of a cabaret setting, but it turned out to be an absolutely amazing stage show.  There was a "narrator", for lack of a better term, who's job it was to try to turn the show into more of a story, but the real feature was the dancing.  And ladies and gents could they dance!!  Absolutely amazing and it really made you wonder if music flowed in their veins instead of blood.  A really good mix of solos and group numbers meant that the dancers stayed pretty energetic througout.  I don't remember the last time we had such a fun evening out.  No one in the audience could sit still.

Friday late morning was an adaptation (mainly through substantial cutting to get it down to one hour) of Marlowe's <a href=""><i>Doctor Faustus</i></a> which turned out to be pretty good.  The one particular part of this adaptation that I liked was how they split Mephistophilis into 2 people, a man and a woman.  Excellently done.

Friday afternoon was <a href=""><i>Assassins</i></a>, the Steven Sondheim musical.  Unfortunately, the music seemed to be above the abilities of most of the performers (including the pit), though they gave it their all, and there were still some really good moments.  In particular, the actors who played John 'Wilkes Booth and Leon Czolgosz were very good, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them in a major theatre at some point in the future.

Friday early evening was <i>One Set to Love</i>, a comedy about two very English gentlemen exploring their past and making up after their recent estrangement.  This was a two man setting, which they played extremely well.  Good stuff.  

Friday late evening was <i>Knots</i>, which was the best show of the festival for us (review can be found <a href=">here</a>).  It was based on a set of writings by RD Laing, it explored the theme of modern British dating and relationships through both movement and speech.  Just incredible both in terms of character development (3 pairs, the women all called Jill and the men all called Jack), dance, and variations on the themes.  Difficult to describe on paper, but stunning, just stunning.  

I didn't take any pictures during this time, mostly because, as you can see from above, we spent almost all of our time indoors.  But walking through the streets of Edinburgh  was absolutely electric, the air literally crackled with the energy.  The city during the rest of the year is fantastic, but during Fringe it's something altogether different.  During those four weeks, it is indeed the centre of the arts universe, and everyone there is just having a good time.  Amazing, and will definitely be something that Stephen and I turn into an annual event.