Monday, August 30, 2010

Edinburgh Festival! – the once-in-a-lifetime experience that happens every year, in the (modified) words of Tim Vine’s “Best joke of 2010”. I’ve always loved those best/worst lists so here’s Crysse's Fringe Pick&Mix, from the fraction of that fantastic array I managed in my five days:
Best lupine encounter: the Shaman wolf who pulled me from the audience of Wolf to dance and kitted me out to join their chant to the new moon.
Best musical drama: The Screams of Kitty Genovese, searing ensemble piece based on the true story of a stabbing in New York in 1964.
Most intimate: Lip Service, a personal exploration of family by endearing and charismatic performer Becki Gerrard.
Best drama: witty, bittersweet My Romantic History by DC Jackson, taking the cliche of a troubled office romance into places of real poignancy as well as hilarity. Brilliant writing allowed the actors to create credible realities below the surface stereotypes. *****
Most unconvincing (yet welcomed) ending to a play: overhyped While You Lie by Sam Holcroft.
Best monologue and best female actor: charismatic Caroline Horton in You’re not like the other girls Chrissie, reincarnating her French grandmother, charming and feisty and undaunted in love by the German invasion of Paris. *****
Best impression of a duck: The City and Iris, delightfully childish physical theatre with an Amelie-style tale.
Funniest Frankenstein remake and sexiest undead monster: Stitched Up.
Weirdest show: Harlekin.
Most wished I wasn't in the front row so we could sneak out: Bright the Ring of Words, proving anyone can bring anything to Edinburgh.
Best comic: Russell Kane *****
Best site-specific theatre: David Leddy's Sub Rosa, roaming late around the old Freemasons mansion, slowly revealing chilling secrets of the past.
Most inventive and hilarious show, best mime and best set: Flesh and Fowl*****
(glimpse here reveals fascinatingly the concept came from Chernobyl).
Best evocation of sexual obsession and best soundtrack: Anatomy of a Fantasy, visually beautiful and sensual dance. *****
Best cabaret: sensational dick-whisperer and overall goddess Storm Large. *****

This loosely chronological list could have gone on and on - like best out-of-theatre performances: Ewan our spiritualist guide through the gothic vaults of Victorian Edinburgh, and Sybil from b'est restaurant.
Mindblowing is the word used at the start of the telephone-directory-sized Fringe programme, but the common thread, despite all diversity, was connection by communication. From intense private intimacies to community struggles and transgressions, the theme of what it means to be human was palpable in all the productions I saw.
My main reason for the trip was to see new writing, as Traverse Theatre has a reputation for the developing and promoting the best around, but there was as much stimulation in the physical theatre, comedy, cabaret, and unexpected encounters - the whole city is such a seething hub of creative energy, from streets to skyline, that everything merges in one vast osmosic theatre experience, from the Morningside lady guide in St Cuthberts to the melodramatic moon above Princess Street.
Strongest image of the week? Flesh and Fowl's final curtain, when the walls come crashing down and animalism takes over - like the wolves on my first day. Oh, and Storm Large's survival anthem 8 miles. Check it out.

And finally, still on a dramatic note and equally exciting, for me: my play Consulting with Chekhov has been selected for the Theatre West autumn season as a rehearsed reading at the Alma Tavern on Saturday 18th September at 7pm.

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