Damn you Edinburgh, I just can’t stay away

Every year, around June, I think to myself “yeah, I’m not going to bother with the Edinburgh Fringe this year”.

And yet every year, come August, I find myself charging along North Bridge trying to get to Venue X from Venue Y in the twelve minutes I have allotted for a journey that actually takes half an hour.

There’s something about Edinburgh that keeps me coming back. I’ve experienced it in a variety of forms: I’ve had the student show up there; I’ve been the producer/director/writer; I’ve been the writer of a successful show; I’ve been the writer of a not successful show; I’ve worked there; I’ve been a visitor for a day, for a week, for a fortnight.

The first time I went up there (I’m hazarding 15 years ago) it terrified me – so much going on, too much.

But the month I spent working on the Box Office team at The Pleasance demystified much of it for me – I was part of it for the first time and there was nothing to be scared of. Two years later and I had a show I had written on in The Courtyard, ‘sold out’ chalked on the board that I used to write ‘sold out’ on those years earlier. Still a career highlight!

I have now had 4 productions staged at the Edinburgh Fringe. Not too shabby. This year my presence is limited to 1/50th of the 50 Plays for Edinburgh being re-staged at The Traverse. But hey, it’s the goddamn Traverse so I’ll take it and be grateful.

I want to go back. Well, I want a play of mine to go back. And for it to be hugely successful. Sold out with five star reviews and everyone telling me how lush I am.

But then, don’t we all. Certainly the 2000+ shows playing this year. And good luck to them.

I am heading up there twice this year. The first day trip was yesterday. We arrived at 11.20am, left at 8pm. Saw 4 shows. Clearly I think Edinburgh is smaller than it is as the time between shows was not really sufficient and didn’t allow any breaks for, you know, sitting down or having a cup of tea.

12.40pm – Happy Never After at The Pleasance.
The not often talked about issue of cancer in a young adult and its effects. Nicely played.

2.30pm – An Actor’s Lament at Assembly Hall
I was so incensed by this I went to leave my review on edfringe.com to find it’s “opted out” of audience reviews. Guess they don’t care what the folk who fork out the money for the (not cheap) tickets think. Maybe they don’t need to when it’s by a ‘name’ (Steven Berkoff) who also stars and the queue snaked right up on to the Royal Mile. Well this is what I think – awful, self-indulgent, badly written and acted. So there.
Also, started fifteen minutes late which meant we were late for the next show. Hugely irritating.

4pm – Sandi Toksvig, My Valentine at The Pleasance
A lovely, uplifting show about grabbing life by the throat. Plus a cunning ploy to get a standing ovation at the end!

6pm – Ciara at The Traverse
A superb performance from Blythe Duff, drawing me in for 75 mins in a play that is dense and not always easy.

Here endeth my reviews, cos I know you were all desperate to know what I thought.

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