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Edinburgh Fringe (Etc) 2012 - A Most Illuminating Tale
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Robert Wells or Mr Waters
Date: 4.51 pm, Tuesday 14th August, 2012
Subject: Edinburgh Fringe (Etc) 2012
Security: Public
Posting about Stuff I've Done.

Managed to get four days in Edinburgh for the festival. Show intake was down a little at 4.5/day, but alcohol intake was quite high. Here's what I did:

The Scottish Independent Music Fair
Or "where I spent all my money". Particularly liked chatting to the guy from Gerry Loves Records. I'll put up a post tomorrow about what I've been buying, in the hope that it will make me listen to it sooner. Straight from there to:

Molly Naylor and the Middle Ones: My Robot Heart
Molly Naylor tells beautiful stories about love and notlove and roundabouts and food fights and robots and weddings while The Middle Ones accompany her on guitar and suitcase (amongst other things). Utterly lovely.

(For anyone Glasgow based, The Middle Ones will be supporting Jeffrey Lewis later this month and it will be awesome.)

Project Adorno's Record Collection
You have to see something bad on every trip to the fringe and, I'm sorry boys, this was my low point. Two gents performing odd songs unconvincingly to a backing track. The highlight was the title Coal Hole Cover Lover, but it all went downhill from there.

Withered Hand
To the beautiful Queen's Hall where we hid in the circle slips, just behind the speakers and watched the beautiful music being made below us. Compered by Josie Long who seemed very excited to be there. First up was Darren Hayman who held the room impressively. There was a song about the ship's piano, and one written for the singer of Allo Darlin. He was followed by Ballboy who seemed slightly underehearsed, but still ticked so many of my boxes. I like slightly silly narratives over well played music, and tracks like I Am An Indie Pirate and I Will Skuttle Ye are excellent examples. Audience, who had been unpleasantly loud already, grew raucous when he mentioned Scottish independence. Withered Hand played a canny game, appearing first as a solo and bringing out more musicians as the set progressed (including members of the joyous Second Hand Marching Band). Absolutely lovely. Amazing drummer, I seem to recall.

The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs by Mike Daisey
I found this disappointing for two reasons. Firstly, I had somehow got it into my head that Mike Daisey was performing. He wasn't. No offence to the chap onstage, but Mike Daisey is someone I met once who changed my life a little bit and I wanted to see him do his thing. Secondly, after all the hooha about the degree of truth in the show (in which I've found myself defending Daisey as it appeared he'd done nothing worse than any biopic writer, it just happened that he'd then performed the show in a context that implied journalism and the situation had got sucky fast) I found that the bits that I'm fairly sure are fictions are overly manipulative and didn't work for me at all, and the preachy ending just left me angry with him, where the stuff that is either fact or truth rocked muchly.

The Great Puppet Horn
The Great Puppet Horn (presented by Pangolin's Teatime) is a satirical shadow puppet show including such characters as grammar cop (who shoots a prostitute for suggesting that "you and me go upstairs for some fun"), an awful lot of wind turbines (who want to be connected to the national grid and don't see why the Catholic Church should stop them) and a bi-polar bear (sad). It's tight, funny, thoughtful and beautifully performed using some tricks I've not seen before.

In a break from tradition, I've seen Artwank before. Twice. Ophelia Bitz shows classic vintage hard core porn with the help of Le Porn Ferret. In between times there are songs and banter and occasionally a guest. The Edinburgh show is leaner and tighter than what I've seen before and Ophelia Bitz is absolutely on form. Highly recommended iff you like that kind of thing. Does end with an unlikely singalong.

An Hour Long Sinister Wink
The Creative Martyrs present an hour about oppression and data protection and the banning and burning of books that somehow manages to be funny, witty and at times moving. Should you go to this, and I recommend you do, I would warn you that they do talk to the audience quite a lot but that they are masters at making sure that nobody is made to seem foolish. Except, of course themselves. I had passages read from the only book I was carrying. It was the novelisation of Z-Cars.

The Curious Couple from Coney
She's a sword swallower and he's a blockhead. He banters while she stays quiet. She's gorgeous and he's hot. Classic sideshow turns presented well and with a few twists. I got pulled on to the stage to be the knife thrower's assistant. The finale with the whips and swords is pretty epic.

Stage divided in two. On the SL side, a small box set made of three differently coloured walls. A light bulb sticks out from the left wall. On the SR side, a screen on to which is projected the scene SL, rotated 90 degrees. A man with a briefcase waits in a room. On the screen he sits on his case, leans against the wall, does all the normal things. And then he tries to drink something. The show writes itself for 20 minutes, and then there's a boring sequence with chalk, and then there's a contemporary dance sequence and an overlong ending. But he is stunningly talented and it's worth it for that opening sequence.

Nothing Is Really Difficult
On the South side of George Square, you'll find a wooden box about 15 feet tall. Outside is a booth selling tickets which has some times chalked on the sides. About ten minutes before those times, a man will climb on to the roof of the box with a large sheet of plywood and a jigsaw and proceed to cut large chunks of wood which tumble to the floor. Another member of Wak picks it up and passes it to the audience. On one side are printed the words Nothing Is Really Difficult and apparently the show details are on the back. There is music and some awkward banter from the three Dutch men. This is before we enter the box. Forty minutes of unexplained physical theatre later, I still don't know what hit me.

Bad Musical
The Trap presents a coarse musical about going to London or Edinburgh to follow your dreams. There are thrills and spills aplenty, terrorists and touching in. And it all ends happily ever after. Clever and funny. I think we saw a show where even more went wrong than was expected, due to Paul Litchfield having problems with a microphone.

Tim FitzHigham: Stop the Pigeon
Every year I see Commodore Sir Tim Fitzhigham FRSA FRGS and Pittancer of Selby Town and every year I leave happy and hopeful and proud. And sometimes drunk. This year he is taking on Alex Horne in a bet. Tim has to send a missive 50 miles in an hour using only technology available in 1750. If you're going, and you should, consider going to the last performance on the bank holiday Monday.

The Fruitmarket Gallery - Dieter Roth: Diaries
An enormous quantity of monitors project almost security footage of Dieter Roth's studios downstairs, while the most complete collection of his diaries sits upstairs. I'd have liked to be able to read more, but they are fascinating artifacts even from the outside.

James Casebere, Home and Other Fictions
I really love the three very large photographs in the front of this gallery. They depict a very high view of a model town that is almost Burtonville. By the third, something had gone very wrong and the town is in flames.

Collective - Mick Peter and B.S. Johnson: Lying and Liars
Also in this gallery a work made of concrete called knots which smelled wonderful.

As of 1.52pm GMT on Friday April 27th 2012, This Show Has No Title.
This year's Kitson story does vanish up its bum somewhat in the metaness, but it's meta enough to lampshade this and carry on. It does indeed accidentally fall into lots of the pigeon holes that the K-Dog has left out for it. It's warm and happy making and a lovely way to spend an hour. It made me want to write Left by Maximilian Cathcart on everything.

Hunt & Darton Cafe
Finally, we found our way to Hunt and Darton's Cafe. Wonderful tea, delicious finger sandwiches (a three course meal, no less) and then some poetry (I was very fond of Jockey). I was asked how I felt, to go in the little book, and while my companion was "hopeful" I had to admit I was "A Little Twitchy". It was time to get back on a train for the South.

All in all, a solid Fringe for me. I wish I had longer. I wish I were still there. For one thing I'd go and get a copy of Paper Stages.
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