EdFringe day 0 – Ready for the off….

Aug 5 2012 | By More

The King’s, Brookes Bar, Eat Shit and a Spelling Bee

By Thom Dibdin

Edinburgh Fringe The Pleasance Dome refurb for 2012

How posh is that? The Pleasance Dome refurb for 2012 Photo credit: Thom Dibdin

The Fringe doesn’t officially start until tomorrow, but the shows are already under way and letting the reviewers in. So it’s time to cycle up the hill, past the lovely Spiegelterrace and on to C Venues and fringe show number one: Eat Shit (how our waste can save the world).

Before attending to matters lavatorial, there is the not-insignificant matter of buttock comfort to attend to. Which is to say that the King’s theatre on Leven Street is open to a wee look from journalists after being refurbished.

I’ve written about the extent of the refurb here, but it’s the seats which are of general concern. Are they comfy? Is there leg room enough? is the buttock spread sufficient for those carrying a broader base? On a first testing the answer to all of these is a resounding “yes!”. They look good too, but under the bottom they feel firm. While in my own favourite seat there is at least an extra two inches of leg room.

There is also time to swing by the Dome to pick up a few tickets for shows at the Pleasance. The shock here is the loss of Paul Garner‘s mural cartoon paintings depicting the Fringe’s movers and shakers around town. I could have sworn it had been there for ever. Apparently not, Pleasance high heid yin Anthony Alderson recalls they first went up in 2005.

After an expensive refurb by the University, the whole of the central cafe area is now all brown and beige, with palm trees and high-backed wooden booths. The wall hangings have all been rolled up and are stored underneath the seats in one of the venues. With two not insignificant exceptions.

The panel which includes Karen Koren at the Gilded Balloon (where she is, herself, high heid yin of course) has apparently been stolen. According to Alderson she hated the picture. Maybe it has been destroyed – who knows. No one is saying. Nor are there any first hand reports readily available of the current interior decoration of Koren’s flat. A subject for further questions.

The other exception is contained in one small corner of the Brookes bar:  the upstairs performers’ bar. Here, there is a fantastic picture of Pleasance founder Christopher Richardson walking into the distance with his dog.

A big fail for the Free Sisters, part of the Laughing Horse Free Fringe
Christopher Richardson and Brooks in Paul Logan's mural for the Pleasance Dome at the Edinburgh Edinburgh

Christopher Richardson and Brooks in Paul Logan’s mural for the Pleasance Dome at the Edinburgh Fringe. Photo credit: Thom Dibdin

“That is part of the mural,” confirms Alderson. “When they turned part of the dome into an  office we had to cut that section out to put in a door and, rather neatly, it is a picture of Christopher and his dog walking into the distance – it is rather lovely.

“We decided to keep it, and it seemed that Brookes bar was the perfect place to put it. Because in fact, the dog in the picture was called Brookes – which is obviously why the bar is named: after Brookes.”

So to the new pop-up: C-Nova, and the delightfully titled Eat Shit (how our waste can save the world). Or rather, because of society’s obsessive belief that all words lavatorial are rude, naughty and not fit to be seen in public: Eat $h*t. It turns out that this obsession – or at least our obsessive belief that everything to do with poo is dirty – is what the play is all about.

It is a typical fringe show. Not quite there, but with good ideas and some very strong lines. No doubt the company’s performance will transform for the better over the next few weeks. What won’t change is the show itself which, while it is all very well-meaning and proselytising, doesn’t go beyond asserting that our shit can save the world to explaining how it can be done. They do, however, have a website for all that: www.thepoopproject.org.

Apparently Alice Cooper, of the show When Alice (Cooper) Met (Prince) Harry, has not had to cancel a single show in all her three years of performing. Until now. The day when The Stage is in. So that is a big fail for her venue: the Free Sisters, part of the Laughing Horse Free Fringe – which had not got her room ready in time for a tech the day before.

I shall be back Alice, although that 2pm time-slot is chock-a-block, so it might be a few days.

Back to C venues and the one we know as C Central or C Chambers Street, although the C people just call it C. And the utterly brilliant Patch of Blue Theatre Company‘s The 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee. Which is simply a fantastic piece of immersive theatre and the company have the luxury of being able to weave their venue’s failings into the narrative. Very clever.

For the first half if feels like a simple comedy pastiche of musical theatre, in all its forms – as if the writers were part of a challenge to create a musical from the most unlikely subject. But by the end of the second half, its twitched a spot of the profound into the plot. The performances are brilliant too and, even though it’s only my second show of the fringe, I’m very happy to put my neck out and give it my first “Must See” of the year.


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