The Fringe doesn’t really get going until the afternoon and so we were left with a morning to fill. We fancied being outside so we decided to go to Carlton Hill.
When we have been in previous years it has been a lovely place for some quiet contemplation and great views over the city. Not any more. This year it was heaving. Full of Chinese tourists that had been bussed up there for a ten minute stop before being bussed onto the next photo stop. As you can see from the above picture it also makes a picturesque spot for wedding photos – providing you can get an angle without all the tourists that is!
Today we embraced the spirit of the festival, whose hashtag this year is #IntoTheUnknown, and went to two events pretty much sight unseen. We picked City Love and A Shot in the Dark based solely on the flyers we had collected yesterday.
City Love was in the tiniest of venues with probably no more than 20 people sat opposite each other and a stage area between big enough only for a couple of chairs. The play was about two millenials living in a city who meet, fall in love, and then fall out of it again due to the pressure felt by his need to provide for his partner and, it must be said, their inability to communicate with one another. It was beautifully written and acted and you really felt for the characters involved.
This, for me, is exactly what the fringe is about – stumbling upon something unexpected and moving.
We had half an hour to get from City Love to our next event, A Shot in the Dark. There are roads in Edinburgh which seem straight out of Harry Potter, which given the books genesis that’s hardly surprising. It is easy to find yourself on a bridge directly over where you need to be. This is particularly true if you are using sat nav as it has no altimeter. You’ll be standing there with the sat nav saying “You’re right on top of it!” and that will literally be true. A quick look over the parapet and you can see the venue below but have no idea how to get to it.
With A Shot in the Dark I wish that we hadn’t found it as it was a disappointment with a poor story not terribly well acted. I have to admit that I fell asleep a few times.
This, for me, is exactly what the fringe is about – stumbling upon something dire and staid.
Our final show for today was Showstoppers! An improvised musical. Where the last two shows had only a handful of people in each of them this one had 600 so was quite a different vibe.
I’ve seen quite a few improvised shows before, such as Paul Merton and Chums, and this show was very similar. The compare, who was excellent, polled the audience for the style of the show (Clown School in our case), some other musicals to parody and, of course, the all important title (Pie in the Sky). The troupe then came out, with red noses and other clown type props that they just happened to have waiting behind the scenes, and performed a complete musical story. This included the all important closing number that included the title.
It was all incredibly slick but just like great magic I couldn’t work it out and was looking for the trick. How did they know when to come on stage? How did they know when to move the props? How did they know who was going to sing lead? I’m told by Helen that the answer to all those questions is that they are all consummate professionals who have been doing it for years and know what they are doing!
Dinner tonight was at an Indian restaurant, Mother India’s Cafe, that we had chosen simply for its proximity to the Showstoppers! venue. We had booked and when we got there it turned out that was a wise move as there were queues out the door for tables. I don’t think I have ever seen such a thing before at a restaurant. I know that Edinburgh is heaving at present and so there are lots of people looking for tables but this is still the only restaurant here to have a queue.
The food was supposedly tapas style but felt very much like any other Indian restaurant to me but the food was good, although not really deserving of a queue if I’m honest.
Tomorrow, a right-wing comedian.