Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Final Word (Or Several)

If I'm honest I spent a good chunk of the past week in some low-level grump. Not an existential crisis sort of grump but more a grump that leads to me being sarcastic to people who are not used to hearing me be sarcastic or melodramatic or having little to no patience. I swore at a driver in the street who had the temerity to beep me when it was him driving through a red light. I told a Bus Driver off. I cried four times whilst reading Sunday's Observer. I alternated listening to The Smiths with songs which reminded me of Edinburgh (should you be wondering, Edinburgh likes Poker Face a lot).

In contrast to all of this I went out of my way to remind myself why I love London. I had chips and Pimm's with Dean. I went to my first Late V&A event (wearing a beautiful sparkly Fever dress in the process). I went to my local fringe theatre. I took the last opportunity to go to The Royal Court's Empty Shop. I walked by the river and photographed The Globe in the morning sunlight. I took myself and my Sunday paper to brunch and didn't set a time limit.

For lots of reasons, some of which I maybe now have the nous not to blog about, Edinburgh Fringe 2010 was special in lots of ways. I got to spend time (albeit too briefly in some cases) with people I genuinely miss. I made some new friends, found a new coffee shop, ate lots of homemade chocolate brownies. I saw theatre that challenged me, that energised me, that changed me. I saw things that made me want to create. I came back from Edinburgh with, for the first time in over 18 months, the knowledge that I have a new play that I have to write.

I, like so many of the people I shared my time in Edinburgh with, didn't want it to end. As I arrived back to a London enveloped in a grizzly grey drizzle it struck me that, without the required notice period, Autumn had arrived. And I wasn't ready to let Summer go quite yet.

September is generally the month where I look backwards, tripping over my feet in a bid not to forget all that has come before. I'm not going to do that on DA this year.

I'm going to march forward.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Scenes From EdFringe: Dangerous Conversations

"Next year you're going to have a play here, right?"

It's 2.30am in a new pub where the pump broke in the midst of pouring Breakfast Club Boy's pint. He's halfway through his Edinburgh Fringe 2010, I'm two thirds of the way through mine.

"Well..."

For all our mutual love of Edinburgh BCBoy and I are pretty much polar opposites on the idea of bringing shows here. He - in the midst of his fourth Edinburgh - is almost evangelical about it. Me, I think if you don't have the right show, the right cast, the right venue, the right slot and the right marketing then Edinburgh is the easiest way to hemorrhage £5,000. Money, which I'd argue, might be better spent staging something elsewhere.

"What about foreverafterwards?"

This, as he knows, is a complicated subject.

"Aaaah...it's not..."

And clearly a complicated subject that I am incapable of being articulate about.

"I love the final scene".

Though I trust him with my writing possibly more than anyone I'm still surprised when BCBoy loves something I write, our writing styles being pretty much as opposite as our Edinburgh views. He put it rather well when he once said that he writes plays in order to tell jokes and I write plays in order to tell a mood. I wonder fleetingly if he is as surprised when I love something he writes.

"It's not...right".

Though, let me be clear in case you think there is something approaching modesty here, I do think the final scene rocks. It has ducks in it after all.

"Then write something. You're better than..."

He gestures.

And I think, these boys, they have a lot to answer for.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

On Being More of a Ninja Than I Thought

A couple of days into Edinburgh Fringe I blogged about my experience of using Theatre Ninjas. It is fair to say that as well as being excited by the project (not to point to the repeatedly mentioned iPhone App) I also had some reservations.

Obviously those reservations didn't stop me from using Theatre Ninjas, as the fact that I went on to see ten shows through it (and tried for an eleventh but couldn't get a ticket) demonstrates. To give all this some context the quality of shows I saw via Theatre Ninjas was as mixed as Edinburgh Fringe itself is. Of the ten shows I saw there was a solitary one star show, a couple of twos, a solid clutch of three stars, two four star shows (The Wake and Helen Arney's Songs For Modern Loving should you be intrigued) and one show which, on reflection, was worthy of five stars - Invisible Atom.

Because I have a lot I want to say about this and a bit of organisational sectioning never hurt anyone I'm dividing this up in order to hit you on the head with my viewpoint even harder.

On Why Producers Should Put Tickets on Theatre Ninjas

Empty seats at theatre productions are just that - empty seats. You don't lose anything on a show that isn't selling out by having some of those seats filled by people who are actively seeking shows to see and thus come with good will in their hearts (or something less schmaltzy). Papering happens in every theatre in the UK and during the Fringe it's often done in a rather chaotic manner (the cafes in the main C venue and the Pleasance Dome seem to be the best places if you want to be pulled into a show, though I know of Producers who were offering free tickets in the street). Papering via Theatre Ninjas makes the whole process much easier and, frankly, more dignified to all involved.

More importantly, Producers, you could gain a lot from Theatre Ninjas. I saw 2b Theatre's Invisible Atom fairly early on in its run. For whatever reason it wasn't in the printed Fringe guide (and the paper Fringe guide - largely - rules) and, I'm sure they won't mind me saying, on the day I went were playing to an audience which could be counted on two hands. More importantly though, Invisible Atom is the kind of production, with the kind of acting, writing and directing, that makes me love theatre. Its scope - about ownership and responsibility and money and family and knowledge and science and ideas and belief - was the largest of any play I saw in Edinburgh (maybe any play - excluding maybe Architecting - I've seen this year). And yet it was so dramatically potent, the story so well told, that it felt like I was being carried by the ideas rather than drowning in them. Invisible Atom, as the best productions do, changed me a little.

I told everyone I came into contact with in Edinburgh about Invisible Atom. I urged - and compelled - people to go and see it. And friends did (crucially paying for their tickets). Then I found that friends were telling their friends about it because how you could see Invisible Atom and not want others to see it I do not know. Word of mouth works. That one free ticket yielded more paid for tickets than there were people in the audience the day I went.

For every show I saw through Theatre Ninjas that I thought was worth paying to see I told people about it (both in person and through the magical-ish medium of twitter). Which, I think we can establish, is more than an empty seat would do.

On Why Theatre Ninjas Did Great With The Smaller Venues

I already adored Bedlam Theatre but I saw multiple productions at ReMarkable Arts's Hill Street Theatre and a couple at Just The Tonic because of Theatre Ninjas. I spent money in their bars/ cafes too. These venues, which had clearly bought into the idea of Theatre Ninjas, made it easy to collect tickets (always a case of turning up at Box Office and stating the code word). I think it's quite easy to get sucked into only seeing stuff at the large venues with the teams of flyerers and Theatre Ninjas encourages you to go places you might overlook.

On Why It Didn't Work So Well With The Bigger Venues

We've already established that C venues and the Pleasance paper shows (I was papered for them both this year) but neither bought into the Theatre Ninjas idea. For the handful of shows from these venues that appeared on Theatre Ninjas the collecting of tickets invariably involved finding someone at some odd place inside or outside the venue at a specified time. I quickly made the decision that this was too much like hassle for a show I would be taking a chance on anyway. Which might just be my loss but...

If Theatre Ninjas is to expand - and its user base expand with it and make it even more valuable for Producers - it needs to draw more shows from a wider range of venues. My use of Theatre Ninjas trailed off after two weeks just because I'd seen most of the shows I'd be interested in seeing that were listed. To expand inevitably means engaging with the big boys. Clearly in venues like The Bedlam and Hill Street putting tickets on Theatre Ninjas (where appropriate) was encouraged. Persuading at least one of the larger venues to do the same is the only way I think Theatre Ninjas can progress from where they are now.

On Some Idiosyncratic Thoughts About Show Listings

Personally I don't think that Free Fringe shows should be listed on Theatre Ninjas. The nature of Free Fringe is that it's non-ticketed and free (excluding what you choose to put in the bucket at the end). The point of Theatre Ninjas is that you get something you can't get elsewhere (i.e. a free ticket for a show you would otherwise have to pay for). Lose this and Theatre Ninjas loses its purpose.

Also I think there should be a minimum amount of five free tickets before you can list on Theatre Ninjas. On all but one occasion (where I knew I would be passing the venue early in the day) I didn't attempt to get a ticket for any show that listed less than 10 tickets. If you're only putting two tickets on there what, really, is the point? In the other direction if you list 30 tickets - assuming you're in an averagely sized fringe venue - I am going to wonder if there's something I should know about your show. I know that's judgemental but, hey, I'm honest about my flaws.

On Why, On Reflection, I Wouldn't Have Paid An Admin Fee

After my first show I stated that I would have been willing to pay an "admin fee" for my ticket, as happens when I use Audience Club. There were other shows which I saw via Theatre Ninjas that I would have been willing to pay £2 towards but I'd suggest that was not the case for 60% of the shows listed. To be entirely blunt if I didn't know the company or the blurb didn't shout that I would love the show I probably would have given it a miss if there had been a fee. So Theatre Ninjas, in its current state, wouldn't work under that model.

On How Theatre Ninjas Improved My Edinburgh Fringe Experience

I could say Invisible Atom, The Wake and Helen Arney and leave it there because even one of those would have justified Theatre Ninjas's existence in my mind. But more shows, more new venues, more experiences. Not to mention how much I would have spent had I paid to see those ten shows.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Scenes From EdFringe: Littlest Things

Because this is what Edinburgh looks like in August:
Almost artAlign Center

Because they weren't all mine but they might as well have been:
Caffine

Because WBN meets Elephant Foot meets Made in China and y'know what? We all met in the Goldsmiths Drama department, Class of 2009*:
Goldsmiths Class of '09

Because this is where I got kidnapped by an actor:
A little bit Belt Up

Because the Zoo Roxy was prepared for anything:
Emergency precautions at the Roxy

Because the artist formerly known as Arsenal Fan got flyered a lot:
Charlie's flyers

Because a Press Pass means you get to use Fringe Central:
Fringe Central

Because I was a little bit proud:
Bedlam Board

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On Reviewing: Part Two

One of the wonderful things about spending a prolonged time in Edinburgh and the proliferation of free ticket deals along with the reviewing lark is that it encourages (or in some cases forces) me to step outside my comfort zone. I've seen dance and physical theatre and experimental opera and comedy and spoken word and more than one thing I'd struggle to classify. And, for the most part, it's been brilliant. And even when it hasn't been brilliant at least it's been interesting.

But on one memorable occasion I found myself stuck in something that really wasn't my thing. I'm not always sure what exactly my thing is (it seems other people have a better idea of that than me - I often get 'oh, Corinne, you would love this') but there are a couple of instances where I know exactly what my thing isn't. And this show - which I was watching in a reviewing capacity - really, really wasn't my thing. It wasn't my thing to such an extent that I didn't know how to react.

It's not that I didn't think - maybe this will be the time I like this. Maybe they will do something I've never experienced before and it will be brilliant and I will take back everything I've ever said about (for example) Ugg boots. But that didn't happen.

I knew I probably should have been laughing but I couldn't because I did not find it funny. I just don't find this particular thing funny. And, for all I would like to think it might be different, it's very unlikely. Potentially nothing is going to make me like Uggs or Beckett or tie dye. It is simply how the world is.

I spent some time afterwards considering how I was going to be objective about the show. After all - as I pointed out - reviewers have a responsibility. And it would be wrong of me to dismiss something simply because I do not like this type of thing. Particularly when I know there are people who do like this genre.

Were they good within their genre? Again I couldn't quite be sure, mainly because knowing this is not my thing, I don't take an avid interest in its proponents. In fact I take the reverse. I actively avoid its proponents.

All reviewing is subjective. I know the bias of a variety of theatre critics just by virtue of their output. But reviewing in Edinburgh doesn't really allow for that. All these reviewers, who as far as you are concerned might just as well have been pulled off of the streets, how are you supposed to judge? Whilst I feel very happy - some might say too happy - to pronounce my opinions on all types of theatre (after all I've studied it, I make it, I read about it pretty much every day, I watch far too much of it) I'm the first to put my hands up and say that maybe I'm not as qualified to make pronouncements on other art forms. And I can't be the only reviewer who has experienced this, or this the only show that's been reviewed by someone who was already predisposed to dislike it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Scenes From EdFringe: Quality

"The shop where we normally buy the silly string* was closed so I had to go to the joke shop on Grassmarket. And do you know how much it was?"

"Go on."

"£2.50! Normally it's £1.00."

"You should have told them."

"I did. And the woman was all: 'this is a bigger can and better quality of silly string."

"Better quality?"

"Yes, like even if you were using it for its intended purpose - for children to spray over each other at parties - you'd be concerned about the quality of it."

"I bet the woman loved you."

[pause]

"Yes. For a woman running a joke shop she didn't seem to find it that funny."

*Billy has a scene which, each night, requires a can of silly string. I would elaborate on why but i)it would spoil it if you were ever to see it and ii)this is a family friendly blog.

Scenes From EdFringe: Title Confusion [With apologies to Made In China]

[Looking up from texting] "What's [T's] play called?"

"Stationary Excess".

"As in stationery?"

"As in - not moving".

"Ah, I thought it was about an excess of pens".

The Great Big Edinburgh Fringe 2010 List - Day Eighteen

The final list in all its glory. Eighteen days, a total of 53 shows (though there's a double and a triple of the same productions in there which would bring me down to 50), 18 pub/bar visits (obviously excluding such things as the whiskey-in-the-hip-flask-incident), only a couple of minor injuries, a flyerer beating flyer tally and pretty much no flippin' celebrity spots. Made all the more annoying by the fact that I managed to bump into every real-life-person it was possible for me to have bumped into. Obviously it was lovely to bump into you all, but you're not David Tennant are you?

Oh, and I got rained on quite a bit.

Edinburgh 2010, this list says a lot but my conclusion can only be: I loved you.


Shows:
Hamlet the Musical - Free (courtesy of twitter)
Emma Thompson Presents: Fair Trade - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Lovesong - Free (courtesy of the a man in the Pleasance Dome coffee shop offering me a free ticket. Score.)
The Chinese State Circus Mulan
- Review Show
The Inconsiderate Aberrations of Billy The Kid - £5 (even though I folded the friggin' programmes. And have something I wrote on the flyer. And...oh, you get the picture. Not bitter. Really.)
BattleActs! - Free (part of Free Fringe, I might not have put anything in the bucket afterwards on account of having seen - and paid for - the show seven times in London)
Like Little Girls in a Sweet Shop - Review
The Stag King - Free (courtesy of the man in C cafe offering me a free ticket. Score the second.)
Hot Mess - Review
Invisible Atom - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Primadoona - Review
Paul Sinha: "Extreme Anti-White Vitriol" - Review
Tiffany Stevenson: Dictators - Review
Luke Toulson: Sorry About Last Night - Review
You Can't Go Swimming With Your Ex Husband - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Emma Thompson Presents: Fair Trade - Review (and second viewing)
Righteous Money - Free (courtesy of a friend)
Steve Pretty on The Origin of the Pieces - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
The Man and Men - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Lipstick - Free (courtesy of a friend of a friend)
The Grandees - Review
BattleActs - Free (see above)
Asoka - Review
Wealth - £8.50 (was offered a comp but a friend's show and only fair, really, to pay up. Hmm. Morals.)
The Wake - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
The Inconsiderate Aberrations of Billy the Kid - Free (Because I made my financial point above and now I can accept comps for my support in kind)
Berlin For Beginners - Review (but Free Fringe so would have been free any way)
Potato Country - Review
Another Someone - £8.00 (Because I really wanted to see this and freebies really weren't going to happen)
Mr Kolpert - Review
Tiernan Douieb: Littlest Things - Review
BattleActs! - Free (Free Fringe, as above)
Nicki Hobday Conquers Space - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Pot Luck - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Helen Arney's Songs For Modern Loving - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
I'm No Hero - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Death of a Samurai - Review
Up2D8 - Review (but Free Fringe)
The Lullaby Witch - Review
The Inconsiderate Aberrations of Billy the Kid - Free (support in kind as ever)
BattleActs - Free (Free Fringe, as above)
Monkey Poet's Welcome to Afghanistan - Free Fringe (but put all my loose change in the bucket afterwards because it was quietly brilliant)
The Second Star to the Right - £8.50 (student discount because C venues don't check...)
Photo 51 - £4.76 (with a 2-for-1 offer, split between three people)
Tim Turbull's Tales of Terror - Review (but Free Fringe)
Dracula - £8.50 (student discount again because C venues still don't check)
Sex Idiot - £7.00
Stationary Excess - £9.00 (again, a friend's show)
The Neon Bible Project - Review
Operation Greenfield - £9.50 (my most expensive ticket but utterly worth it)
Neil Hamburger - Review
BattleActs - Free (Free Fringe, and as above)


Pubs:
1 purveying whiskey and loud music.
4 x theatre bar purveying spirits and cake.
3 x purveying a beer garden and over priced vodka until I got cast discount (score).
1 which did not purvey Sunday lunch due to its special 'Festival Menu'.
1 launch party with free gin.
1 where I didn't worry about the prices because I wasn't paying. (score. Even though there was a cast discount involved for the person who was)
1 with connections to the famous Edinburgh Bobby.
1 where no one sitting round the table ordered alcohol.
1 where the beer pump broke mid-pint pouring.
1 on the Royal Mile which still wasn't the most expensive pub of the month.
2 x underground theatre bar with joyously eclectic furniture.
1 chain pub where even though we weren't drinking alcohol one of our group was ID'd.

Bruises/ Notable Injuries / Ailments:
Three. At least one of these deserves, if not its own blog post, then most definitely its own tweet.
One blister [left foot].
The Billy The Kid throat infection type thing (hear me growl)

Number of times I have been flyered:
A measly seven times.
A still insubstantial ten.
Fourteen. And no one flyered me after 2.00pm.
Twenty One (largely due to the walk of flyer death between Fringe Central and Gilded Balloon).
Twenty Nine (it would seem that the rain bothers flyerers almost as much as the look on my face does)
Thirty Three. (and this includes a mid afternoon walk down the Royal Mile. Ha ha!)
Thirty Six (I'm beginning to suspect I am obvious as a lost cause)
A triumphant Forty One.

Number of times it has rained (on me):
One!
Three.
Five.
Ten.
Thirteen.
Fourteen. (and I was wearing my sandals again)
Seventeen (would have be worse but lucked out with my raining-during-shows quota)

Number of spotteds:
Not a single one. Which is all the more pathetic given the number of real-life people I have bumped into in the last twenty four hours.
As above.
And repeat.
Stewart Lee! Finally!
Either I saw the guy who played Rosencrantz in the David Tennant Hamlet walking down Cowgate today or it was someone who looks *very* like him. Until proven otherwise I'm going for the former because I am clutching at straws here.
Still clutching at straws.
Andrew Clover in the audience for a show. Does he count?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Great Big Edinburgh Fringe 2010 List - Day Fifteen

Twenty four hours away from Edinburgh within this list but a cluster of utterly charming shows in it. That I would love Helen Arney singing of Justine Frischmann is a given. That I would love 'Shakespeare meets manga' was a surprise for all of us.

Shows:
Hamlet the Musical - Free (courtesy of twitter)
Emma Thompson Presents: Fair Trade - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Lovesong - Free (courtesy of the a man in the Pleasance Dome coffee shop offering me a free ticket. Score.)
The Chinese State Circus Mulan
- Review Show
The Inconsiderate Aberrations of Billy The Kid - £5 (even though I folded the friggin' programmes. And have something I wrote on the flyer. And...oh, you get the picture. Not bitter. Really.)
BattleActs! - Free (part of Free Fringe, I might not have put anything in the bucket afterwards on account of having seen - and paid for - the show seven times in London)
Like Little Girls in a Sweet Shop - Review
The Stag King - Free (courtesy of the man in C cafe offering me a free ticket. Score the second.)
Hot Mess - Review
Invisible Atom - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Primadoona - Review
Paul Sinha: "Extreme Anti-White Vitriol" - Review
Tiffany Stevenson: Dictators - Review
Luke Toulson: Sorry About Last Night - Review
You Can't Go Swimming With Your Ex Husband - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Emma Thompson Presents: Fair Trade - Review (and second viewing)
Righteous Money - Free (courtesy of a friend)
Steve Pretty on The Origin of the Pieces - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
The Man and Men - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Lipstick - Free (courtesy of a friend of a friend)
The Grandees - Review
BattleActs - Free (see above)
Asoka - Review
Wealth - £8.50 (was offered a comp but a friend's show and only fair, really, to pay up. Hmm. Morals.)
The Wake - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
The Inconsiderate Aberrations of Billy the Kid - Free (Because I made my financial point above and now I can accept comps for my support in kind)
Berlin For Beginners - Review (but Free Fringe so would have been free any way)
Potato Country - Review
Another Someone - £8.00 (Because I really wanted to see this and freebies really weren't going to happen)
Mr Kolpert - Review
Tiernan Douieb: Littlest Things - Review
BattleActs! - Free (Free Fringe, as above)
Nicki Hobday Conquers Space - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Pot Luck - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Helen Arney's Songs For Modern Loving - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
I'm No Hero - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Death of a Samurai - Review
Up2D8 - Review (but Free Fringe)



Pubs:
1 purveying whiskey and loud music.
3 x theatre bar purveying spirits and cake.
1 purveying a beer garden and over priced vodka until I got cast discount (score).
1 which did not purvey Sunday lunch due to its special 'Festival Menu'.
1 launch party with free gin.
1 where I didn't worry about the prices because I wasn't paying. (score. Even though there was a cast discount involved for the person who was)
1 with connections to the famous Edinburgh Bobby.
1 where no one sitting round the table ordered alcohol.
1 where the beer pump broke mid-pint pouring.
1 on the Royal Mile which still wasn't the most expensive pub of the month.

Bruises/ Notable Injuries / Ailments:
Three. At least one of these deserves, if not its on blog post, then most definitely its own tweet.
One blister [left foot].
The Billy The Kid throat infection type thing (hear me growl)

Number of times I have been flyered:
A measly seven times.
A still insubstantial ten.
Fourteen. And no one flyered me after 2.00pm.
Twenty One (largely due to the walk of flyer death between Fringe Central and Gilded Balloon).
Twenty Nine (it would seem that the rain bothers flyerers almost as much as the look on my face does)
Thirty Three. (and this includes a mid afternoon walk down the Royal Mile. Ha ha!)
Thirty Six (I'm beginning to suspect I am obvious as a lost cause)

Number of times it has rained (on me):
One!
Three.
Five.
Ten.
Thirteen.
Fourteen. (and I was wearing my sandals again)

Number of spotteds:
Not a single one. Which is all the more pathetic given the number of real-life people I have bumped into in the last twenty four hours.
As above.
And repeat.
Stewart Lee! Finally!
Either I saw the guy who played Rosencrantz in the David Tennant Hamlet walking down Cowgate today or it was someone who looks *very* like him. Until proven otherwise I'm going for the former because I am clutching at straws here.
Still clutching at straws.
Andrew Clover in the audience for a show. Does he count?

On Reviewing: Part One

Somewhat inevitably in between having four hours sleep a night and filling my veins with a mixture of coffee and vodka (not always at the same time) I've found myself pondering theatre critics (or reviewers, or the people who do not understand your work). I've reviewed in the past and am sure I will do so in the future, but never before (or maybe again) with the saturation of the past few weeks. Nor have I been as aware of so many others seeing and reviewing the shows I'm at (both as a reviewer myself and as a paying audience member).

A week ago I sat in the audience for Billy and clocked immediately that I'd landed myself next to a reviewer. Largely I knew this because he was wearing his press pass and had a notebook and pen on his lap; all he needed was a neon flashing sign and we'd have been sorted. I didn't know if this was good so I could spy on him and try and guess his response or bad because I would be on edge wondering if he was enjoying it.

As it was my positioning was pretty disastrous. After initial positive signs (laughter and suchlike) I began to get the feeling that it might not be going too well in his department. Or I say I got the feeling, more likely it was rammed home to me by his sighing and his holding his head and his scratching in his notebook 'SICK'. At the point where he starting repeating 'oh my God' and doing something that resembled rocking in his seat I wanted to take his fountain pen and jab it hard in his eye.

Now I should probably make something clear. All of the above are perfectly valid responses to Billy. I know I'm pretty much immune from the shock value of it, having seen it [insert large number here] times, having read the script before that, of knowing the writer and, because of how things turn out, knowing a little bit of how his imagination functions. I also know I'm a little bit [read: very] protective of him. But Billy is what it is because some people will not like it. I have a whole list of people I know who I would not advise to see it (we're starting with my mother and moving on from there). I was talking with a Box Office girl at the Bedlam about its list of warnings which are truly the longest set of warnings I have ever seen for a show (and, remember, I used to be a Duty Manager, I've seen - and written - a lot of warning signs) and those warnings make it pretty clear. If you're going to be offended then maybe this isn't the show for you. I won't judge you for that any more than you should judge me for thinking that Flawless isn't the show for me. There's plenty out there in Edinburgh that might be more appropriate.

But, whilst I don't judge the reviewer for having the reaction he did, I do judge - and criticise him - for having that reaction to the detriment of the people around him. He was exactly the worst kind of audience member to sit next to. Had I been new to Billy, had I been wrapped up in its world, waiting for what it was going to throw at me next, I would have had my enjoyment spoilt by someone who was blatantly not enjoying it. If that person had been a regular, paying audience member would have been bad enough, but that he was there on a free ticket, doing a job - that makes it all the worse. It makes it horrendously unprofessional. And I don't care if he was a professional reviewer or not (professional reviewers are in short supply up here in Edinburgh in comparison to the bulk of unpaid some time reviewers who swell the ranks), part of the deal is that you act professionally. Or, frankly, you shouldn't be doing it. It might be a laugh for you - and often reviewing is a laugh, I've had a brilliant, amazing and only occasionally painful time doing it - but for the people you're reviewing - this is their show, their money, potentially a good chunk of the way they've spent their time in the last six months. This is as serious as theatre gets. And all this is without considering the impression you create of the publication you're writing for.

I'm someone who hates people taking notes during shows (I once saw David Tennant take a girl's notebook off of her and, without breaking character, make her seem the most foolish person in the room. And I cheered him for it) and I do an inward sigh every time I see someone bring a notebook out. If you can't hold a thought in your head until it's the interval or until the show's finished then, really, I think we have a problem. Note taking is bad for actors, it's also bad for audience members around you.

Reviewer or not, paid ticket or not, we shouldn't leave our manners at the door.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Great Big Edinburgh Fringe 2010 List - Day Eleven

Quality of shows has picked up again (though you'll see there's another two paid for tickets in there now) and the rain has tried to drown me again before having the brightest 24 hours of Edinburgh weather since I've been here. Also flyerers of Edinburgh - you're going to have to try harder.

Shows:
Hamlet the Musical - Free (courtesy of twitter)
Emma Thompson Presents: Fair Trade - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Lovesong - Free (courtesy of the a man in the Pleasance Dome coffee shop offering me a free ticket. Score.)
The Chinese State Circus Mulan
- Review Show
The Inconsiderate Aberrations of Billy The Kid - £5 (even though I folded the friggin' programmes. And have something I wrote on the flyer. And...oh, you get the picture. Not bitter. Really.)
BattleActs! - Free (part of Free Fringe, I might not have put anything in the bucket afterwards on account of having seen - and paid for - the show seven times in London)
Like Little Girls in a Sweet Shop - Review
The Stag King - Free (courtesy of the man in C cafe offering me a free ticket. Score the second.)
Hot Mess - Review
Invisible Atom - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Primadoona - Review
Paul Sinha: "Extreme Anti-White Vitriol" - Review
Tiffany Stevenson: Dictators - Review
Luke Toulson: Sorry About Last Night - Review
You Can't Go Swimming With Your Ex Husband - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Emma Thompson Presents: Fair Trade - Review (and second viewing)
Righteous Money - Free (courtesy of a friend)
Steve Pretty on The Origin of the Pieces - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
The Man and Men - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Lipstick - Free (courtesy of a friend of a friend)
The Grandees - Review
BattleActs - Free (see above)
Asoka - Review
Wealth - £8.50 (was offered a comp but a friend's show and only fair, really, to pay up. Hmm. Morals.)
The Wake - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
The Inconsiderate Aberrations of Billy the Kid - Free (Because I made my financial point above and now I can accept comps for my support in kind)
Berlin For Beginners - Review (but Free Fringe so would have been free any way)
Potato Country - Review
Another Someone - £8.00 (Because I really wanted to see this and freebies really weren't going to happen)
Mr Kolpert - Review



Pubs:
1 purveying whiskey and loud music.
3 x theatre bar purveying spirits and cake.
1 purveying a beer garden and over priced vodka until I got cast discount (score).
1 which did not purvey Sunday lunch due to its special 'Festival Menu'.
1 launch party with free gin.
1 where I didn't worry about the prices because I wasn't paying. (score. Even though there was a cast discount involved for the person who was)
1 with connections to the famous Edinburgh Bobby.
1 where no one sitting round the table ordered alcohol.

Bruises/ Notable Injuries / Ailments:
Three. At least one of these deserves, if not its on blog post, then most definitely its own tweet.
One blister [left foot].
The Billy The Kid throat infection type thing (hear me growl)

Number of times I have been flyered:
A measly seven times.
A still insubstantial ten.
Fourteen. And no one flyered me after 2.00pm.
Twenty One (largely due to the walk of flyer death between Fringe Central and Gilded Balloon).
Twenty Nine (it would seem that the rain bothers flyerers almost as much as the look on my face does)
Thirty Three. (and this includes a mid afternoon walk down the Royal Mile. Ha ha!)

Number of times it has rained (on me):
One!
Three.
Five.
Ten.
Thirteen.

Number of spotteds:
Not a single one. Which is all the more pathetic given the number of real-life people I have bumped into in the last twenty four hours.
As above.
And repeat.
Stewart Lee! Finally!
Either I saw the guy who played Rosencrantz in the David Tennant Hamlet walking down Cowgate today or it was someone who looks *very* like him. Until proven otherwise I'm going for the former because I am clutching at straws here.
Still clutching at straws.

Conclusions

So, erm, yes. Tired.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Great Big Edinburgh Fringe 2010 List - Day Eight

So - more rain. More free shows. But, crucially, no more four star ones (or better) as yet. Have sneaking suspicion that to get my show mojo back I'm going to have to pay. Bugger.

Shows:
Hamlet the Musical - Free (courtesy of twitter)
Emma Thompson Presents: Fair Trade - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Lovesong - Free (courtesy of the a man in the Pleasance Dome coffee shop offering me a free ticket. Score.)
The Chinese State Circus Mulan
- Review Show
The Inconsiderate Aberrations of Billy The Kid - £5 (even though I folded the friggin' programmes. And have something I wrote on the flyer. And...oh, you get the picture. Not bitter. Really.)
BattleActs! - Free (part of Free Fringe, I might not have put anything in the bucket afterwards on account of having seen - and paid for - the show seven times in London)
Like Little Girls in a Sweet Shop - Review
The Stag King - Free (courtesy of the man in C cafe offering me a free ticket. Score the second.)
Hot Mess - Review
Invisible Atom - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Primadoona - Review
Paul Sinha: "Extreme Anti-White Vitriol" - Review
Tiffany Stevenson: Dictators - Review
Luke Toulson: Sorry About Last Night - Review
You Can't Go Swimming With Your Ex Husband - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Emma Thompson Presents: Fair Trade - Review (and second viewing)
Righteous Money - Free (courtesy of a friend)
Steve Pretty on The Origin of the Pieces - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
The Man and Men - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Lipstick - Free (courtesy of a friend of a friend)
The Grandees - Review


Pubs:
1 purveying whiskey and loud music.
1 theatre bar purveying spirits and cake.
1 purveying a beer garden and over priced vodka until I got cast discount (score).
1 which did not purvey Sunday lunch due to its special 'Festival Menu'.
1 launch party with free gin.

Bruises/ Notable Injuries / Ailments:
Three. At least one of these deserves, if not its on blog post, then most definitely its own tweet.
One blister [left foot].
The Billy The Kid throat infection type thing (hear me growl)

Number of times I have been flyered:
A measly seven times.
A still insubstantial ten.
Fourteen. And no one flyered me after 2.00pm.
Twenty One (largely due to the walk of flyer death between Fringe Central and Gilded Balloon).
Twenty Nine (it would seem that the rain bothers flyerers almost as much as the look on my face does)

Number of times it has rained (on me):
One!
Three.
Five.
Ten.

Number of spotteds:
Not a single one. Which is all the more pathetic given the number of real-life people I have bumped into in the last twenty four hours.
As above.
And repeat.
Stewart Lee! Finally!
Either I saw the guy who played Rosencrantz in the David Tennant Hamlet walking down Cowgate today or it was someone who looks *very* like him. Until proven otherwise I'm going for the former because I am clutching at straws here.

Doing the Grump

Monday was the day when Edinburgh Fringe hit me in the face. After a succession of late nights and then early mornings meeting copy deadlines I awoke today to discover that my throat felt like someone had stuck some razors down it in the middle of the night. This in itself isn't Edinburgh's fault (I know exactly where I'm pointing the finger for passing on illness) but it wasn't the greatest of beginnings.

After writing and submitting my copy (which took longer than normal through a combination of sleepiness and that I was writing my first ever comedy stand-up review) I decided to try and sleep some more. Mistake number one because that meant I was rushing.

Of course when I was in central Edinburgh it started to rain. And, equally obviously, (and mistake number two) I was wearing my sandals.

Then the show I was reviewing started late and was longer than its advertised running time anyway. And though it was, well, okay it was a bit of a come down after Sunday had been comprised of my three favourite shows I’ve seen in Edinburgh thus far.*

Then I left the venue and it was raining. And not just a little bit. It was a bit like the end of the world, or at least how I imagine the end of the world might be if it were to involve drowning.

And people - oh, people - they just wouldn’t move. The Edinburgh amble is a close relative of the Oxford Street amble. And I hate ambling.

This all meant that by the time I reached Fringe Central to dry off and eat I had thirty minutes before I’d need to set off for the Pleasance.

Then I arrived at the Pleasance and, bloody hell, I’d been booked in for the right comedian but the wrong show. Obviously this would be the one time in the entire festival that I’ve collected a reviewing ticket less than fifteen minutes before a show and thus the one time when it was too late to do anything about it. So I left the office a message and took myself back to Fringe Central with a ticket for a show that doesn’t start until much later in the evening.

So, yes, Monday was grump day.

*Obviously this excludes Billy, which is a category unto itself. If this footnote doesn't make clear - I have fallen into this trap before.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Great Big Edinburgh Fringe 2010 List - Day Five

A good day for quality performances, a bad day for Sunday lunch. You win some, you lose some I guess. Also - there has been a slight increase in flyering too, though still localised and easily dispersed with the addition of headphones.

Shows:
Hamlet the Musical - Free (courtesy of twitter)
Emma Thompson Presents: Fair Trade - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Lovesong - Free (courtesy of the a man in the Pleasance Dome coffee shop offering me a free ticket. Score.)
The Chinese State Circus Mulan
- Review Show
The Inconsiderate Aberrations of Billy The Kid - £5 (even though I folded the friggin' programmes. And have something I wrote on the flyer. And...oh, you get the picture. Not bitter. Really.)
BattleActs! - Free (part of Free Fringe, I might not have put anything in the bucket afterwards on account of having seen - and paid for - the show seven times in London)
Like Little Girls in a Sweet Shop - Review
The Stag King - Free (courtesy of the man in C cafe offering me a free ticket. Score the second.)
Hot Mess - Review
Invisible Atom - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Primadoona - Review
Paul Sinha: "Extreme Anti-White Vitriol" - Review

Pubs:
1 purveying whiskey and loud music.
1 theatre bar purveying spirits and cake.
1 purveying a beer garden and over priced vodka until I got cast discount (score).
1 which did not purvey Sunday lunch due to its special 'Festival Menu'.

Bruises/ Notable Injuries:
Three. At least one of these deserves, if not its on blog post, then most definitely its own tweet.
One blister [left foot].

Number of times I have been flyered:
A measly seven times.
A still insubstantial ten.
Fourteen. And no one flyered me after 2.00pm.
Twenty One (largely due to the walk of flyer death between Fringe Central and Gilded Balloon).

Number of times it has rained (on me):
One!
Three.
Five.

Number of spotteds:
Not a single one. Which is all the more pathetic given the number of real-life people I have bumped into in the last twenty four hours.
As above.
And repeat.
Stewart Lee! Finally!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

"We had the greatest expectations"

Expectation is a tricky thing. I think every theatre obsessive has a secret (or not so secret) list of certain people and companies from whom brilliance, or at least an above averagely good night is demanded of. The top part of my list would include (in no particular order):

Katie Mitchell
Tom Stoppard
Kneehigh
National Theatre of Scotland
Anything at the National Theatre
Anything by the RSC
Simon Stephens
Out of Joint

[Note: I have a sublist of expectations for people or companies for whom I accept that brilliance might not always happen (or be fleeting) but who will challenge or surprise me, with these moments being the ones that I take in the trade off. ]

Expectations though are difficult. On one hand I go in with the state of mind that I am going to love what I am to see. That it will speak to me, or change what I think, or simply be superb. On the other if it doesn't meet these expectations then well, I'm unlikely to think, oh so-and-so was having an off day. I'm going to be all WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? Complete with tearful recriminations and slamming of doors.

Yesterday wasn't quite that bad - unless I was going to use the door of an expensive nightclub there wasn't much available for slamming - but I was only over egging the pudding slightly when I told Breakfast Club Boy subsequently that I was "bereft".

There were lots of little things that contributed to such central Edinburgh melodrama. I'd had five hours sleep. I'd spent the day watching low tech but resolutely charming plays. The previous Edinburgh Fringe I had fallen a little in love with Ella Hickson's Precious Little Talent. Her new play, Hot Mess, not only billed itself as being exactly the kind of play I adore, the Press Release announced that it was a "site specific" piece created especially for the Edinburgh nightclub I was going to watch it in. When I arrived at the club it was beautiful. And then, as we were taken underground to the room where the play was to be performed for no clear reason we were each given a wet pebble. Before I'd even taken my seat I'd decided yes, thank you very much, I was going to love this.

I lasted about 15 minutes in this frame of mind before I realised that whilst I still loved Hickson's voice - oh, she can write a beautiful line - I wasn't particularly engaged with what was happening. And - here’s the big one - I couldn’t work out how exactly Hot Mess was site specific. As of yet none of the play had been set IN A NIGHTCLUB. I may be taking a leap here but site specific requires the play to be specific to the site, in that (without radical changes) there is no where else this play could be performed. Thus far not only was it site generic the fact that the site was problematic for sightlines and the seating was bloody uncomfortable meant that I might well have been enjoying this play more if they’d put it in a more traditional theatre space.

There were some lovely moments, don’t get me wrong, and, even at the end, I still loved Hickson’s voice but I was - disappointed.

Plus, it was never explained why we were given the pebble. And that hurt me most of all.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Great Big Edinburgh Fringe 2010 List - Day Four

More shows, more vodka, more rain. It's really starting to feel like Edinburgh now.

Shows:
Hamlet the Musical - Free (courtesy of twitter)
Emma Thompson Presents: Fair Trade - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Lovesong - Free (courtesy of the a man in the Pleasance Dome coffee shop offering me a free ticket. Score.)
The Chinese State Circus Mulan
- Review Show
The Inconsiderate Aberrations of Billy The Kid - £5 (even though I folded the friggin' programmes. And have something I wrote on the flyer. And...oh, you get the picture. Not bitter. Really.)
BattleActs! - Free (part of Free Fringe, I might not have put anything in the bucket afterwards on account of having seen - and paid for - the show seven times in London)
Like Little Girls in a Sweet Shop - Review
The Stag King - Free (courtesy of the man in C cafe offering me a free ticket. Score the second.)
Hot Mess - Review

Pubs:
1 purveying whiskey and loud music.
1 theatre bar purveying spirits and cake.
1 purveying a beer garden and over priced vodka until I got cast discount (score).

Bruises:
Three. At least one of these deserves, if not its on blog post, then most definitely its own tweet.

Number of times I have been flyered:
A measly seven times.
A still insubstantial ten.
Fourteen. And no one flyered me after 2.00pm.

Number of times it has rained (on me):
One!
Three.
Five.

Number of spotteds:
Not a single one. Which is all the more pathetic given the number of real-life people I have bumped into in the last twenty four hours.
As above.
And repeat.

On Not Quite Getting A Byronic Ode

We're about two thirds of the way through BattleActs! and we have discovered (amongst other things): no one present likes David Cameron, cucumbers can be used to cool down a nuclear reactor and there is a man in the corner who is on his stag do and has fallen asleep.

As is fairly traditional one team, through a combination of error, foolishness and the luck of the comedy Gods, is hideously behind in the scoring system. As a last ditch attempt to earn them 600 points they have been challenged to recite in unison a poem. Now all they need is a subject.

Breakfast Club Boy catches my eye.

"And the poem has to be for this lady" he says pointing at me.

This isn't the first time I've been embroiled in a BattleActs! sketch - there was the time where I was shouted at and subsequently got a foot infection from the floor, and then the time (which I really should have blogged about) when, as part of the read-from-a-book-and-then-improvise-the-story, they read my diary out on stage*. In comparison - having a poem created for me? What harm could that do?

There's a momentary flash of confusion as the team onstage are unsure whether Breakfast Club Boy has pointed at me or the woman in the next seat. Having assumed I was getting a poem I shall be miffed if it's going to the blonde who arrived after me.

No, the lovely one" Breakfast Club Boy clarifies, which, really, is quite charming for someone who thinks tie dye is an attractive look and has already complimented me on my GaGa esque cardigan in the last week.

"What's your name?" Girl Kapow asks.

"Corinne".

There's a flicker.

"Doesn't rhyme with much, does it?"

I realise here that I blatantly should have said Connie (particularly given the fact that I suspect some of Breakfast Club Boy's friends think that is my actual name) which rhymes with lots of things.

"And what do you do?"

OH GOOD GOD IT'S THAT QUESTION. I have a minor aneurism at the sound of it.

"I'm a writer". It covers many bases, including the reason I'm in Edinburgh, after all. After this we narrow it down further (plays) and I provide them no word that will actually rhyme with anything.

"And what do you like doing when you're not writing".

Erm, well I like theatre and books, and cocktails with odd names, and boys with guitars and Doctor Who and dresses and vintage head scarves and (though it's a secret) Big Brother 11 and making lists and -

WHAT DO I SAY?

I have a glass of vodka in my hand so obviously I say:

"Drinking vodka".

It is all that Billy The Kid can take. "WHY COULDN'T YOU HAVE SAID YOU LIKE CATS?"

And, y'know what, I have to concede that, in rhyming stakes at least, he has a point.

But it's too late and the poem must begin.

It's slow, faltering:

"There

Was

A

Girl

Named

Corinne

[Pinter pause but with less menace and more rhyme terror]

Who

[Pinter pause]"

Breakfast Club Boy cannot take this any longer. "Your poem was: 'There was a girl named Corinne, Who'. Is that good enough to win them six hundred points, Connie?"

I smile at his slip of calling me Connie when he is not supposed to know me. And then, though I know this will lead to inevitable loss for the team (a loss that I now have my part in) I have no choice in the matter.

"No".

*Honestly not as bad as that makes it sound. Almost.

Friday, August 06, 2010

The Great Big Edinburgh Fringe 2010 List - Day Three

So the list continues and, sob, I actually have to expend actual money on an actual show.

Shows:
Hamlet the Musical - Free (courtesy of twitter)
Emma Thompson Presents: Fair Trade - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Lovesong - Free (courtesy of the a man in the Pleasance Dome coffee shop offering me a free ticket. Score.)
The Chinese State Circus Mulan
- Review Show
The Inconsiderate Aberrations of Billy The Kid - £5 (even though I folded the friggin' programmes. And have something I wrote on the flyer. And...oh, you get the picture. Not bitter. Really.)

Pubs:
1 purveying whiskey and loud music.
1 theatre bar purveying spirits and cake.

Bruises:
Three. At least one of these deserves, if not its on blog post, then most definitely its own tweet.

Number of times I have been flyered:
A measly seven times.
A still insubstantial ten.

Number of times it has rained (on me):
One!
Three.

Number of spotteds:
Not a single one. Which is all the more pathetic given the number of real-life people I have bumped into in the last twenty four hours.
As above.

And So Fringe Proper Begins...

Today proved to be one of those days where I just couldn’t get myself sorted. This was partially through the increasing complexity of my schedule and partly because of self imposed faffing. The scheduling thing came about because, on checking times, I realised that the show I was seeing on Wednesday which was then re-scheduled for today, was one I couldn’t physically get to. Basically I had to be out in Leith reviewing The Chinese State Circus until ten minutes before Lost Show #1 began in the centre of Edinburgh. Which means - Lost Show #1 really not happening today. So the schedule had to be revisited (again) and Lost Show #1 got bumped to Monday (where Lost Show #2 had been, before it got moved to Sunday on account of Lost Show #3 difficulties. I have no idea where Lost Show #3 currently is, other than floating in the ether of Lost Shows). The faffing, however, is fairly self explanatory in as much as, I faffed. Which pretty much meant a wasted morning, which is a shame when you consider that Lyn Gardner had probably seen four shows before I managed to hoik myself into the shower.

Today is also notable for the fact that it is first day of Edinburgh Fringe proper. The main thing that makes me realise this is the volume of people who have appeared. Walking down to Princes Street I actually experienced something akin to Oxford Street Rage, which is neither attractive nor desirable. Particularly when this is only going to get worse.

Also - there has been an equivalent swell of people I can identify as being show tribes. At this stage they are identifiable as:

Packs wearing show t-shirts or, for the more weather conscious, hoodies. Invariably these are either University students or from North America. I do not know what this says about either group’s mindset but whatever that mindset is it involves branding.

Questionable costume brigade. Full stage makeup offstage and during the day. A man dressed in full Elizabethan women’s clothing. A man in a Borat mankini standing outside John Lewis (or, at least, I hope this man was part of a show or, at 6.00pm on a Friday, Edinburgh, I have to ask you questions).

Flyering Crew. This time not just the people who are being paid to flyer by the bigger venues, but people who are not being paid at all and are flyering to avoid losing their shirt as well as their overdraft function. Only, on day one, there isn’t yet the urgency and every person is a potential audience member as opposed to someone who is yet another reason why you will be living on baked beans for the rest of 2010.

It’s probably worthwhile noting that whilst I have seen an upturn in flyering there hasn’t been a similar upturn in my being flyered. As I write this, at 9.00pm in the Pleasance Dome café (ah, no free tickets from loitering here tonight, even if I wasn’t due over to Bedlam for Billy), I have been flyered three times today. Which even when you take out the bit where I was faffing and the three and a half hours I spent over at Ocean Terminal, is still a poor show. I’m beginning to think I am striking some stance that suggests I am unflyerable. Or else one might call it: what living in London for two years does to you. I’m not sure if this is a trend I approve of or not.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Great Big Edinburgh Fringe 2010 List - Day Two

I realise I should be keeping tally of various 'stuff' not only because it's nice to look back on but also because I'm borderline obsessional and love lists. Plus - I realised today that I'm in the midst of 'how many productions can I see for free semi-challenge' which makes me feel bad for my fellow theatre makers, but happy for my bank balance. So I'm going to be noting what I spent as well, so that I can tally up how things are going and, maybe, come up with some conclusions at the end of August.

This is obviously just the beginning for the list. Categories may die whilst others may be born. We'll just have to see how it goes.

In comparison to last year (by this point in proceedings I'd seen double the number of shows I currently have) it's a civilised beginning. Having said that I'm here for almost five times the amount of time I was last year and the Festival proper hasn't opened yet, so this is probably a good thing all round.

Shows:
Hamlet the Musical - Free (courtesy of twitter)
Emma Thompson Presents: Fair Trade - Free (courtesy of Theatre Ninjas)
Lovesong - Free (courtesy of the a man in the Pleasance Dome coffee shop offering me a free ticket. Score.)

Pubs:
1 purveying whiskey and loud music.

Bruises:
Three. At least one of these deserves, if not its on blog post, then most definitely its own tweet.

Number of times I have been flyered:
A measly seven times.

Number of times it has rained (on me):
Once!

Number of spotteds:
Not a single one. Which is all the more pathetic given the number of real-life people I have bumped into in the last twenty four hours.

On Not Quite Being A Ninja

In what is fast becoming a theme of my Edinburgh Fringe the show I was due to review today decided that they were not open to the Press yet. Which is nice in as much as it has created a second day in Edinburgh with no real work commitments but not so nice in as much as I can see the build up of shows I must see in the next few days coming to hit me round the head and chastise me for not using my time more wisely.

Before I discovered this, though, I'd decided that I use a free afternoon to try a bit of the Theatre Ninja malarky. Back in London (see how I talk, when I have only been away from London for 48 hours) I'm very fond of Audience Club, which works in a similar producers papering shows type way. Thus when I found out about Theatre Ninjas (even though the use of the word 'ninja' worries me, given that ninja is not exactly a word which trips off of my tongue) I was rather excited. And then they had an iPhone App too! Glorious!

I suppose the main thing that is different about Audience Club and Theatre Ninja is at no point is there any exchange of money for the latter. There's a £2 administration fee for an Audience Club ticket whereas free means free with Theatre Ninja. And did I mention - it has an iPhone App? And there is both the joy and the rub (the fee, not the iPhone App which is a little basic but nonetheless a thing of glory). Getting a ticket for an Audience Club show is as simple as ticking a box, paying a couple of pounds and turning up at the required Box Office and collecting your ticket.

With Theatre Ninja there's a bit more work. Mainly - you can't guarantee a ticket for the show. Helpfully you're told how many freebies there are but then it's up to you to do the leg work. Which, looking at today's list, varies show to show. At some it's a case of turning up at the Box Office and quoting the correct word, at others in no circumstances must you approach the Box Office, instead having to find members of Theatre Ninjas or elaborately dressed members of the production team outside the venue.

I'm going to record this here now just because I'm interested if my thoughts on the subject change over the next few weeks. Because whilst I know Edinburgh has different rules to theatre going than elsewhere (like the QUEUING; three shows in, I'm beginning to be wistful about allocated seating already) and that often picking up shows when you least expect to is part of the magic of the Fringe, on realisation of how Theatre Ninja was going to work I had some doubts. I like structure! And planning! And knowing - with enough scope for a detour to a show or a drink in a pub - what I'm doing. There's also a little bit there where I have to know what I'm doing - I've got a review schedule and, more damningly, a review writing schedule. And now - here I am being made to work for my (possible) freebie. [With that sentence if Edinburgh did awards for most curmudgeonly not-21-any-more blogger I'd win it]. Which is not to say that I don't expect there to be some sort of trade off for a freebie, but that I'm interested why charging a nominal fee and guaranteeing tickets wasn't taken up. [Maybe most notably because the subtext of this paragraph is that I'd have been willing to pay it].

In practice my doubts about the ticket collection were somewhat appeased when I turned up for Emma Thompson Presents: Fair Trade, located a man in a Theatre Ninja t-shirt reasonably quickly and said the magic word. Pretty much painless. And free! Ah, the rush of theatre going joy.

[Edit: It occured to me as I was walking down Princes Street in search of somewhere to go to the loo - as you do - that there's a time element for Theatre Ninjas in the way there isn't say for Audience Club. By this I mean the majority of shows which come through the Theatre Ninja site do so at the last minute, whereas it is the minority for Audience Club which do this. Thus having a cut off point of, say two hours before a show for 'booking' your ticket might not work. I'm thinking aloud here - if that is what you can call writing on this blog - but I may ponder on't]

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Wherein there is some hoo-ha about spelling 'Corinne'

Initially I wasn't scheduled for a review today. Then last night a show became a review orphan and I was asked to be its adoptive reviewer parent (like how I'm extending that analogy?). Then this morning the show concerned decided that it didn't want to be reviewed on its first preview and, once again, I had a review-less day in front of me.

So a scout around my local area seemed in order (Coffee shop = check. Pub = check. Shop selling handmade corsets = most definitely check) before making my way to Fringe Central to pick up my press pass. Fringe Central is bright and airy and full of currently chirpy looking staff in Fringe t-shirts. Even the few performers who were scattered stapling promo material haven't yet adopted the rabbit-in-headlights look of week two and half of the festival. In short - (most) shows have yet to begin, possibility is (almost) endless and people still have vitamins in their bodies. Thus all is well.

Which is not quite the case when it comes to my press pass. Not that people's inability to either spell or pronounce my name is something which has dogged me since I was old enough to know that people were pronouncing or spelling it incorrectly. And not that my name had to have been copied from what was (at some point) the correct spelling. And not that mis-spelling having had the correct spelling is my number one annoyance. And - okay I'll save it for therapy.

PassAlign Center

Twitter was actually spared a protracted name spelling rant when I heard my name across the room. Or rather, what I heard was:

"Connie".

Obviously, Connie is not my name either (though it was what my sister used to call me when she couldn't say Corinne) but it is a deliberate wrongness that was started by Charming Canadian at some point during the MA and was picked up with avengence by Breakfast Club Boy last Summer. And thus, in the manner of these things, has become something I answer to.

Breakfast Club Boy is photocopying programmes for the play that will never die so we stand and do photocopying maths and I roll my eyes a bit at the ones he's screwed up.

Then, by way of an aborted attempt to get tickets for @m_keane's play at the Pleasance (note to self: don't try that one again. The box office queue of doom rather than the play in question, that is), we take the default Edinburgh Fringe option and go to the pub. And even though it is a whiskey and loud music pub which makes Breakfast Club Boy laugh about how incongruous I am in it, I take pity and fold programmes.

Billy Programmes

Afterwards it's on to Hamlet the Musical for me which I am seeing not because of reviewing but because of twitter. Which is why, if I am not evangelical enough already, every theatre company should be on twitter. I'm a pernickity customer when it comes to Shakespeare spoofs and, even without those David Tennant Hamlets, this is a play I know well. And by well I mean - have lots of opinions on. Hamlet the Musical has its moments - most often, unsurprisingly, when it takes lines directly from the original - and its 'To Be Or Not To Be' song is inspired. But I can't help but feel that it is neither a sharp enough spoof on Hamlet or on musical theatre. I'm a lone voice in this audience, however, who are packed in and loving it.

Coach The First

All truth told, I didn't have exactly high hopes for yesterday. There was some stuff about packing and having to be up at 6.00am in there but mainly it was due to the nine and a half hour coach journey. I'm going to repeat that in case any of you at the back didn't hear: THE NINE AND A HALF HOUR COACH JOURNEY. That's a long time for anyone, but for someone who has moderate to severe motion sickness and once went through two plastic bags on a Leeds - London coach (I'm sorry, you probably didn't need that detail, but it remains a traumatic memory)? Eternity.

Under self-inflicted delusion I had convinced myself that this coach journey would be okay (largely because it didn't cost me a kidney, as the equivalent train journey booked slightly too late, would have done). Financial reasoning aside I had one thing to go on: once, during the last time we had a Conservative Prime Minister*, I did a coach journey from Leeds to the French Alps. And, as the fact that I am here now writing this would attest to, I survived it. Which given that that particular journey also included a ferry (boats being my absolute least favourite form of transport) I had to conclude that London - Edinburgh on National Express (no, couldn't bring myself to do Megabus, largely because it has the word 'mega' in it) would be fine. Ish.

Turns out - not exactly pleasant. But not so bad that I am writing this from a darkened room with a damp cloth on my forehead. And, even from me with a stomach that had stayed somewhere around Alnwick, part of the journey was quite beautiful**.

But now - I am in Edinburgh and will not be using any form of transport except my legs for some time.

*I am not trying to draw any conclusions from the fact that I have only taken ridiculous coach journeys under Conservative Prime Ministers but I'm just putting this out there. Never happened under Labour.

**That sounds like damning with faint praise, but is actually quite an achievement what with NINE AND A HALF HOURS ON A COACH.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Edinburgh Essentials...

Edinburgh Fringe Essentials (sort of...)

Also:

Multiple head scarves.

7 dresses (including one with sequins).

An eye mask.

A copy of Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty which I have been "reading" for about six weeks now and yet am only on page 121.

An iPhone with three different 'Edinburgh Fringe Apps'.

Sorted, right?