Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fringe benefits

I've just completed a survey on my experience of the Edinburgh Fringe this year.  It was the first time in my life I'd actually got round to attending any shows at the festival, and I had a very nice day - the two plays I saw were excellent, and the organisation much smoother than I anticipated, so I was more than happy to give positive feedback.  However, when I was asked to agree or disagree with the following statement, I did begin to wonder if the organisers might just have a slightly inflated notion of the potential impact of their endeavours...

it made no difference to my well-being (e.g. emotional, social)

When days out in Edinburgh affect my emotional well-being, it's usually got more to do with surly bus drivers.

Incidentally, in case you're wondering, Lockerbie : Unfinished Business wasn't one of the plays I saw - I thought that might be taking one of my fixations of the summer a step too far!  Instead I saw a vivacious performance of Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle by a young theatre group (who I presume hailed from the West Country, unless the choice of accent was totally random) and then a very good contemporary Irish play called Dead.  The latter gave me a taste of the famed rough-and-ready character of the Fringe, with an actor drafted in at the last minute who read his lines direct from the script, and an audience of about ten, half of whom seemed to be either professional reviewers or to have their own shows.  Before the performance started, the reviewers mentioned that they were particularly interested in covering plays about death, at which point two other members of the audience leapt into action and started thrusting leaflets into their hands.  "A character definitely dies in our play," one said, "I promise you".  The other one (a rather sprightly-looking elderly gentleman) thought for a moment, and then triumphantly announced - "You must come to my show.  You see, I'm almost dead..."

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