Well, that’s the Fringe over for another year and Edinburgh breathes a weary sigh of relief. I love the festival and it has been so much fun but also a lot of work. My energy levels are dipping into the overdraft so I’m grateful to have a couple days to recharge before uni gets back.
This year’s festival was a little busier for me than usual, I picked up a wee job as an arts reviewer for the largest Fringe review publication Broadway Baby. Overall I went to 43 shows and events – 20 of which I reviewed (you can read them all here, if you’d like). Even though 43 shows in 12 days seems like a lot – and it was a little bit of an information overload – it is a mere 1% of the total shows that were happening in Edinburgh throughout the month of August, which is just baffling. I missed almost two weeks of the festival because I was working full time but I don’t know how many things the human brain is capable of watching within a short space of time. I am so happy with what I was able to see and although there were inevitably some duds, I was lucky to see some incredible shows and I think 2017 was overall such a high quality fest! So what did I love?
Disclaimer: I decided, for fairness, to leave all of my friends’ shows off of this list but I was so proud to have seen so many of my talented and hilarious friends entertain me with their fantastic shows ❤
My Fringe hits…
- The Revlon Girl (theatre) – I don’t think I’ve seen a show that has affected me so much in a very long time. The play focusses on the disaster in 1966 where 116 children and 28 adults were killed in a colliery spoil tip in the Welsh village of Aberfan. The piece is set 8 months following the disaster and the women invite a Revlon representative to take their minds away from their grief but make up is the last thing on their mind. Boisterously hilarious jokes combat the intense emotional distress that The Revlon Girl puts you through. I was struggling to stop my sobbing turning into full on bawling throughout. It’s transferring to the off-West End Park Theatre and I would urge anyone who has the chance to see this show.
- Rhapsodes (improv) – This is always going to be one of my picks of the Fringe because it’s so mind blowingly fascinating to me. Adam and Sean are basically the kings of improv, so if you’re going to see any improv show, see this one. This is the only Fringe show that I saw twice because they never fail to kill me with laughter and amaze me with how quick-witted they are. I cannot comprehend how they manage to improvise within tough writers’ structures, in particular iambic pentameter. They take stories from audience members lives and present this as a Shakespearean play but with lots of fun improv games throughout. I particularly loved when they recap the story using playwrights’ styles, as suggested by the audience. They did my Tennessee Williams suggestion and coupled with the contrasting vibes of Kane, it was beyond hilarious.
- Fagin’s Twist (dance) – A retelling of classic story Oliver Twist but focussed on the conception and downfall of the notorious boss Fagin. I loved this, it was such a stunning piece. The soundtrack was beauitfully put together and enabled the most exciting musicality, arguably the most satisfying thing to see in a dance piece. The set they had created really simple visuals but it was so well used and I have such a thing for sets that you get to climb all over because it’s look like so much fun. Fagin’s Twist joins the queue of the many dance pieces that I wish existed on video so that I could watch them over and over.
- Paris de Nuit (circus) – Set inside the famous Spiegeltent we were lucky enough to find one of the booths to sit in and be amazed by the talent of the critically acclaimed Recirquel Company from Budapest who brought us the saucy vibes of a Parisian cabaret. I honestly spent the majority of this show gasping in amazement, the things they could do with their bodies was unreal. We saw aerial performances on hoops and silks as well as contortion and juggling and my absolute favourite was the tightrope performer who was somehow able to balance in the splits?! Mental and fantastic.
- Spring Awakening (musicals) – I couldn’t do a favourites list without including a musical and this was a new one for me that I’d heard of before but never seen. And what a show it is, so emotional, you could feel the room filling with tears. This was the only Fringe show I went to that had an interval, gratefully received in their tiny, roasting hot venue. The performers in this had incredible voices, I wish I could listen to them sing again and again and such entertaining and energetic performances, it was very professional.
This has actually been such a crazy month, what with driving up and down to Edinburgh, working crazy hours, collected a million tickets spewing out of the machine while people stared at me, writing my little fingers off, meeting my Eurovision idol Graham Norton (!!!!), seeing RPDR queen Courtney Act, eating some gorgeous street food, having several reunions with friends from all over the country, learned how to make wontons, ended a Rocky Horror themed night out by dancing to Can’t Wait to be King from The Lion King, spent a week babysitting my besties from home who are a little Edinburgh-clueless and saw a whole bunch of amazing shows. And now I get to breathe!
The festival is honestly such an amazing thing. It kinda feels like the city turns into a summer camp and all these people with similar interests and crazy schedules are cooped up in one place and you have loads of tiring fun, bonded by the intensity and your exhaustion. It’s so exciting to have the world’s largest arts festival on my doorstep and the whole atmosphere of the city changes to a place of creativity and inspiration and I just love that. A few days of sleep ahead and then I’ll be ready for it to start all over again next year!