Fringe Page 5

September 1, 2018

On Wednesday we had two quite different music performances to go to.
The first one was by Tibetan monks from the Tashi Lhunpo monastry, where the Panchen Lama is based, demonstrating their music, dances and prayers. We had seen film of much of the kind of things they did, but seeing it close up and live was quite different to seeing old b&w film, or even more recent colour footage… Very impressive.P1040285

Tibetan Black Hat Dancers

After that it was a quick stroll down the much reduced Johnston Terrace (only 2 lanes wide now!) to Henry’s Cellar Bar and an evening of strange music and Frank Zappa covers! The support band started up almost as we arrived and were pretty good, with sax occasionally provided by a friend of ours… And then it was time for Pygmy Twylyte and their Absolutely (Not) Free recreation of Frank Zappa’s music. And on this occasion, they had a guest (ex) lead vocalist from Dweezil Zappa’s Zappa Plays Zappa band, who captured Frank’s vocal mannerisms to a ‘T’. At least seven players squeezed onto the tiny stage but they all had room to play, literally and musically! Great stuff, with the crammed in audience loving it. Some were obviously fans of the group, while others were long term Zappa fans, curious to see and herar the cover versions.
I saw Zappa play decades ago in the Playhouse on a big stage, which was great, but this tiny cellar bar gig was as good in other ways.

Performers on Shoebox Stage

Void at Summerhall seemed to be getting great reviews, and it was based on the J. G. Ballard novel, Concrete Island, so off we went! And regretted it immensely. The show was almost sold out, so we were shuffled into the end of the fifth row (of seven) which should, really, have been fine. But the solo performer spent around half the time on the floor, completely out of sight of much of the audience, except when her legs waved about in the air a bit!
The times she was standing up were fine, and the soundtrack was good, but the show should never have been put on in a room without a raised stage as it provided such poor sightlines for probably 1/2 to 2/3rds of the audience. Looking at other reviews, other people felt the same. It all left a bit of a sour taste in the mouth.

To cure that that we went for a meal at the Souq, a nearby Moroccan/middle eastern restaurant, for some mezze! Qarnabit, borek,  Moroccan egg salad, hummus, more…
We ended up quite full!


The Fourth Fringe

August 25, 2018

On Saturday evening we went to Zoo Southside for a performance of The Silk Road, a colourfull dance performance recreating a classic journey along the historic Silk Road, with some back projected imagery. Very enjoyable.

Sunday was busy! (At least initially)
We started by getting tickets for a production of The Canterville Ghost from the novel by Oscar Wilde which was on at Riddles Court. Having bought tickets we discovered that the nearby French Institute (relocated recently from Randolph Crescent to the corner of the High Street & George IVth Bridge) had an excellent bistro/restaurant, where we had coffee & croissants before returning to Riddles Court.
Queuing was a bit shambolic but, once seated, it was a neat little performance, put on by members of the PQA theatrical school (established by actress Pauline Quirk) so the children were played by age appropriate actors even if the adult parts looked a little young! Afterwards a very helpful staff member showed us various aspects of the building’s recent refurbishment, which would have been difficult for us to see otherwise, as their open days, etc. are usually on a Saturday…

After that, it was a stroll down to Zoo Southside for Zugunruhe, a solo physical theatre performance about bird migration and bird song! Thoroughly enjoyable and effective science communication! With graphs!


Migratory Feathers, and Nest Sticks!
Next stop was at the Pleasance Dome and was a two hander performance of Ken, about the anarchic auteur Ken Campbell, who was a Fringe stalwart over the years. We saw what I think was his final show at the Fringe a few years ago… And I was well aware of, but didn’t actually attend, his first show back in 1978 called The Warp (which lasted 23 hours per performance. Iirc. and was only on three times). Anyway, the actor playing Ken caught him perfectly, from his appearance to his erratic views about almost everytthing! Near the start of the show, a woman’s phone rang and he made a bit of a joke about it and carried on, only for her husband’s phone to ring almost immediately! I suspect the same person, having failed to connect with one, phoned the other. Anyway, actor Ken took the call for him and started convincing the caller that the husband wasn’t able to answer as he was having a massage and couldn’t be disturbed for a few minutes! Etc. Very amusing! The show went on; lots of detail about The Warp  and some subsequent events, including a rogue HHGG performance in a huge theatre in London which went spactacularly wrong!
Great fun!

Our final show was back at the French Institute and was a masterful solo performance by professional mime artist Guerassim Duchliev, imagining himself in various situations.

And so passed Sunday.


Fringe the Third

August 18, 2018

Monday evening was swimming night so we didn’t go to any thing…

Tuesday saw us down at the Space on Niddrie Street at The Shakuhachi Experience watching a traditional Japanese flute player and taiko drummer play some classic Japanese tunes before introducing an electronic keyboard into things and playing some hybrid Krautrock/ & electronic music at Space on Niddrie Street. Fun stuff, and interesting between songs history lessons about the old-fashioned flute he was playing!


Empty Stage after The Shakuhachi Experience

Thursday evening’s excursion was to what’s now known as Zoo Charteris (the original Zoo venue) for Solarplexus: An Alternative Energy Play, a climate conspiracy comedy sf show. Only four characters but they fired their lines back and forth with verve and were obviously well rehearsed. A giant corporation had put a huge set of reflectors (known as the Restless Eye) into orbit to capture the Sun’s rays and for some reason also needed a plot of land on which the father of two of the other characters was living a very eco lifestyle and working on a means of generating cheap energy…  Good fun, and probably deserved a bigger audience.

Friday wasn’t all Fringe, actually, it turned out not to be Fringe at all! There was a screening of a documentary, Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, on at Filmhouse which we went to see. His original claim to fame was as a founder of The Yellow Magic Orchestra in the 1980s but he later became better known for writing music for various films, especially Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence. and The Last Emperor. Not much YMO footage, but lots of other music, often just fragments of pieces he was composing or talking about. Not particularly focused, but still engrossing. It finished later than we expected so we ended up missing a live Captain Beefheart tribute [Orange Claw Hammer] we had hoped to see, but I know it’ll be back as it’s a local group, so no harm done!


The Fringe Again, So Soon!

August 13, 2018

So, several days one, we’ve been to some more shows…

Saturday evening, we wnet to see a musical comedy at the Roxy theatre.
It was a gender bending take on some od the Norse myths, called Thor and Loki. Thor was going through an identity crisis and having difficulty living up to expectations but found a kindred spirit in Loki, a female half Giant who turned out to be his half sister…In the meantime, the Giants, led by a male male version of Hyrrokkin (I think – one of the Giant leaders, who had a fierce horse, anyway) were attacking Asgard…


As the audience leaves, the cast rush to leave before the next show arrives to set up!

Loki was probably the strongest character but the whole cast played their various rols (and instruments, at times) well.
Good fun, and it looked to be completely sold out.

On Sunday we went to a rather agit-prop climate change play/musical called Let’s Inherit the Earth, on at a Pleasance hall which happened to be up several flights of stairs with no obvious option for a lift. If we notice in time, I doubt we’ll bother going to see anything else there.
Anyway, the small cast played 2 or 3 characters each (including some net-entangled turtles!), some fleeing disatser on foot, some by moving to their posh villas in the Alps…  Ultimately, though, how they try to escape doesn’t really matter… Good punky songs, which the cast performed well.
During lunch at the Fruitmarket Gallery M discovered that Barry Cunliffe was on at the Book Festival and managed to get tickets by phone, so the main afternoon event was a talk about sailing and trade from early times until the Middle ASges, especially around the Atlantic coast of Europe… I have several books by him but had never heard him speak, Fascinating stuff, and I should read more.  Another impromptu decision saw us getting to St. Marks on Castle Terrace just in time for a spoof 1940s style detective radio show, served with a complementray gin & mixer provided by the sponsors, who also got several namechecks throughout the show in the style of old fashioned jingles sung by the cast! It was a rip-roaring tale of bootleggers (gin, of course) gangsters, molls, and a very useful parrot! The two Brits visiting New York and forced to seek accomodation in Hell’s Kitchen won through, of course, and the villains met a sorry end! Great fun, and the best show so far!


And that’s not just the gin talking!



Fringe 2018!

August 11, 2018


Long time since I posted here although there’s been loads I could have written about…

Gigs, films, books, shows… last year’s entire Festival & Fringe… moving house… Actually, my father’s death at the end of last June and all the work afterwards sorting out his Estate, together with moving house earlier this year drained a lot of my energies for doing very much at all and this blog was no exception.

Anyway, here we are again near the start of this year’s summer madness that is August in Edinburgh and so far we’ve been to 2 shows! Well, 3 if you count the opening of the exhibition that’s been occupying M’s time recently! She contributed greatly to a section of P1040172the Edinburgh Shoreline exhibition at the John Hope Gallery in the Botanics, overseeing and contributing to a section called ‘Knit the Shoreline’
Also in the Botanic Gardens is a temporaty event space called the Pianodrome. No lie, it’s entirely made of old pianos, even the flooring, including 5 working keyboards and seating for up to 100 people at a time. The evening we went (Thursday) was a nice dry, sunny evening, perfectly suited to sitting under the geodesic dome that the Pianodrome was constructed within.

Pianodrome Before the Evening’s Performance (note small girl with giant bear arriving!)

The support group was a quartet called Dowally, with accordian, violin, guitar & double bass. As all performance have to be ‘in the round’ they all faced each other and the audience could see 3 of them quite well, and the back of the nearest player to them! It worked very well.P1040212

After a break – another bottle of beer fom the temporary bar set up outside under a tree – it was time for Sink, a trio of sax, accordian & violin, augmented on the later songs by a drummer and bass player.
The core trio interacted wonderfully, stalking each other around the stage, mugging a bit for the audience and obviously having a great time, which was just as well, as the whole Pianodrome project was their idea and their effort creating it!


Matt the brass player and the violinist, with trousers made of old ties!


Sink the Trio

Great stuff, with hints of Curved Air (Way/Monkman interaction), VDGG (esp Banton/Jackson interplay, and Hazmat Modine at times. The venue really suited them, as it sould have, I suppose, give that they designed, crowdfunded and built it.
(More pictures on my Flickr pages)

The other show we’ve seen was a proper old style Fringe show – a one man performance of a classic post-war play in a musty old vault! It was a 90 minute performance of Dario Fo’s Mistero Buffo, performed by the Rhum and Clay Theatre Company at the Underbelly in a vault of George IVth Bridge adjoining the Central Library.
He came on dressed as a Deliveroo worker but soon transformed into a jongleur, a radical strolling story teller, who proceeded to re-interpret many of the New Testament stories about Jesus, but from a bystander’s viewpoint, rather than the proper agreed interpretation of events by the Church… The original play had room for interpolations and additional material to retain it’s relevance to new audiences and that was certainly done, although it was very difficult to see the joins.
Very well done but the rest of our fringe/festival will probably be a bit less intense!





Big Bertus!

August 9, 2017

I had a big round number birthday recently and my partner, Madeleine, bought me a present of a ‘Magic Moment’ at the zoo with Bertus, their Indian Rhinoceros.
We’re Life Members and the shop has sponsored Tapirs there for the last 10 years, so it was a very suitable, if a bit unexpected, present.

And Monday 7th was the day I chose to claim my present. (Bertus is leaving the zoo soon so time was limited a bit otherwise I wouldn’t have chosen to close the shop for 1/2 a day during the Festival/Fringe.) Anyway, the morning promised a nice day ahead and we set off, with plenty of time for breakfast along the way. Or so we thought! We had chosen to eat at Haymarket so any Festival traffic problems would be behind us, but all the buses we wanted from there were held up by some unknown problem and we ended up dead on time, instead of with some slack to spare.
Anyway, registration went smoothly and at the appointed time we met the Keeper and off I went from my close encounter with a rhino! And my personal photographer (and gift provider) came too!
Bertus is now nine, I think, so still relatively young, but still massive!


And I got to feed him a bucket of cut branches and leaves, etc. and see him really close up. Like, close enough to pet his upper lip/nose which was wonderfully soft despite all it’s wrinkles, and rub and pat his flank, which he seemed to enjoy.

Lots of interesting chat with the Keeper, Erika, and a thorough look behind the scenes, including a little play with his indoor swinging blocks (logs hung from chains he can butt)  and checking out his indoor drinking trough, etc.

A second attempt to feed him the remainder of the bucket of food failed as he had gone outside and was very happy to lie in one one of his wallows and ignore the Keeper’s calls (and mine too). But the first feeding session had been a great success and having a rhino lean into you a little as you rub it’s flank is very special. Looking right into it’s mouth from a foot or two away, or up it’s nostril, or at it’s eye close up, is fascinating, too!
And then it was over, and work beckoned.

But what a half day!



Sunny Days!

August 8, 2017

Summer! Sun! Beaches!

For the first time in ages we had a Sunday to ourselves and decided to have a minor trip to the beach! Not any old beach, but one that you can only access with a bit of a walk, either from Gullane or, as we did, from Aberlady and across the long wooden bridge and through the Aberlady Nature Reserve.

It turned out they had removed the bus stop at the bridge end carpark but the driver let us off anyway (big thanks as the next stop is half a mile at least further on). Next time we’ll know to get off the bus in the village… Anyway, great weather and just right for a stroll along the paths through the Reserve and over the big dunes down to the beach.


The tide was well out so we sat and watched the sea and the sky, had a snack and a drink and then went paddling! Down to the sea and then along the shallows as the tide turned for maybe half a mile, back up the beach and along the slightly more rugged walk out to Gullane and a late lunch. Or maybe it was tea!

And a couple of weeks later, on another fine Sunday, we took the (now not so) new Borders Railway down to it’s terminus at Tweedbank, just beyond Galashiels, but before Melrose. Nice journey through the Borders, although nearer Edinburgh it all seems to be new housing and building sites…
After leaving the station we headed for the Tweed just to the east and made a big loop following it upstream past a small herd of Belted Galloways to Abbotsford, maybe a mile west of Tweedbank. It’s a nice walk once you find the start of it and very quiet despite the proximity of the village and nearby towns. And, on the far bank, we saw what must have been a wild mink! I saw it emerge from some waterside greenery and make it’s way carefully along a section of  bank where the covering soil, etc. had slipped into the river leaving a very steep, exposed slope. We both watched it until it slipped into the water, and away who knows where!


Approaching by the riverside path, we avoided arriving at Abbotsford House itself but it soon came into view from the path through the meadow between it and the riverbank.
A very striking mansion, bought and greatly expanded by Sir Walter Scott and further expanded after his death by the family. So there’s his original grand house which replaced the farmhouse he bought, which is now squeezed between his grand east Wing and the later, equally large, West Wing. Plus formal gardens, terraces, stables etc. Very grand, with great views across the Tweed and to the hills opposite to the north.

A very nice meal at their visitor centre restaurant and then a walk back through the village and on to the station. We hadn’t really paid attention to the time and realised if we hurried we might get a train without having to wait an hour. And we would have missed it, but the conductor held it while we panted up to the platform and along to the carriage door!
And then homewards in the early evening…