Edinburgh Fringe: Sensory Overload

I was born and bought up in Edinburgh to English parents, and as such I became a regular visitor to the Fringe. I have vivid memories of getting hold of the frighteningly thick Fringe programme and essentially picking shows at random. I have a particular memory of a one-man production of Dr Faustus, and Paul Merton’s Comedy Story Players. Both odd, for different reasons, and in their way sum up much of what is so great about the Fringe.

So returning for a week at the Fringe after 10 years, it was apparent that the random approach couldn’t be taken due to cost. So the shows were chosen on the basis of what our group fancied….here’s a brief survey of what we ended up doing.

Monday

Dylan Moran (Stand-Up Comedy). We were lucky to get tickets for one of only two shows he was doing. I like his intelligent cynicism and world-weariness. I’m also never quite convinced that his implied inebriation isn’t more performance than actual. There were some great moment, but he lapsed a bit too much into simple, easy laughs of the ‘I hate politicians’/’Men and women are different variety’. That’s all fine if you say something striking, which he rarely did. That doesn’t mean it’s not funny; I laughed hard at times at the delivery of a gifted performer. He is though, merely good to very good.

Tuesday

Peter Duncan’s Daft And Dangerous A one-man show from the former Blue Peter’s presenter and Chief Scout. It’s great fun whatever your vintage or background. An hour of musical style singing, acrobatics, audience-participation, comedy and generally good times, using the varied story of his career to this date as the hook for a highly entertaining hour. He’s playing throughout the Fringe – strongly recommend this. Get tickets here.

Stephen K Amos (Stand-Up Comedy) An hour of comedy from a comedian I didn’t know before hand, but is growing rapidly in popualrity. He’s just been awarded his own BBC show, and I can see why. His show, which he’s touring all over the UK in the Autumn, is called The Feelgood Factor, and that says it all. It’s the opposite of Dylan Moran in many respects – optimistic, upbeat and just plain fun. The occasional obvious moment, but never too much. Even the interacting with the audience was of a kind and gentle type. Really enjoyed this – laughed until I hurt. Get tickets for the autumn here

Wednesday

One Man Lord of The Rings In an hour. A brilliant performer, the voices are amazing and the comedy about right. Not worth it if you haven’t read the book or seen the films…..and even for me, at an hour it was a little stretching. Worth seeing, but not a stand-out.

Thursday

The Magnets The bare description of 6 voice acappela music doesn’t do justice to this show. The guys spent an hour performing covers of songs they truly make their own, without any instruments or backing tracks. Some of the noises were jaw-dropping in their complexity. The singing is amazing, the performance thrilling and the charisma exhilarating. Quite simply, fantastic – see more here

What none of this covers, of course, is the great vibe around the city – the buzz in the many fine independent coffee shops, the street performers, and the city’s beauty. It was great to be back. Hope it’s not 10 years until the next time.

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