I have returned from another EdFringe adventure. I can honestly say it’s been one of my favourite years. And, like a swarm of flyerers buzzing around the Mile, it should be elbowing it’s way to the top.
Always a mainstay of my Edinburgh Fringe visits, I saw Mark Thomas’ NHS Check Up at 70. Mark leaps around the stage with a punk energy and master of controlling an audience. Mark’s unashamedly One Of The Good Ones, taking his detailed research on the NHS and turning those stories into engaging and powerful theatrical moments. His shows always make me want to Change The World. With a smile on my face. Unflinching and honest dissection of the fading NHS. People not profit.
There were a plethora of ‘Gig Theatre’ shows this year. I think Gig Theatre is meant to combine the energy of being at a gig with the story-telling of being at the theatre. The show that came closest for me to this model was What Girls Are Made Of, a riotous and joyous full band affair documenting the teenage years of musician Cora Bissett. I couldn’t help but be envious, the show my theatre company made would have boasted a full band had we the time/resources/funding (blah blah blah poor us). But with the might of the Traverse this show is immensely powerful. I saw people wiping away the tears, and the final call-to-arms left me buzzing!
Other theatre using guitars were Status by Chris Thorpe/China Plate, Jim Harbourne’s The Myth of the Singular Moment and One Life Stand by Middle Child. Status was one of my highlights, acerbic and bitter and ultimately a punch-in-the-gut exploration of guilt, colonialism, ghosts and borders. Chris’ ability to pin the audience down with words ace, but his Simpsons’ reference that pins down the play is masterful. I’m still chewing over One Life Stand, I suppose it’s a good thing. Somewhat disorientating, the three-way narrative is erratic, jarring like a wild Saturday night. Jim’s show wielded acoustic rather than electric instruments, and told a simple-yet-effective story.
A show about music I saw called Loop had some nice ensemble moments and good humour, but it’s lasting message was essentially a simplified value that music is a good thing, even if different generations clash over their love for it. I kinda fancied dancing to the music rather than patiently watching the characters enjoy alone.
I am a bit gutted that my company’s show, Whatever Happened To Vandal Raptor? couldn’t come up but…well…you don’t need a long ramble about the costs of this endeavour,
But these shows were all inspiring, engaging and fuel to go and begin work on my next show! The perfect response to an EdFringe.