Three Days of Fringe and A Camden Pre-Show

I have wanted to go to Edinburgh Fringe for so long, I kind of can’t believe I’ve actually done it. Even more, I can’t believe it was everything I expected it to be, plus some.

When Fringe is in Edinburgh, Fringe practically is Edinburgh. It’s everywhere, seeming to sprawl across the entire city. The sheer scope and layout of this festival was unfathomable to me before I was there. I’m not sure there was a room in the city not put to use.

I could live in a world of performers doing their own thing all the time. In fact, I’d sort of prefer it. Of course, that is not the world we live in. We live in a world of dollar signs and corporations. The realities of life are very narrow . It’s a rather small sliver of the world apportioned to pursuits of love.

Some people get to make careers of it. The lucky ones, we’ll call them. I’m not saying they’re not driven or talented or deserving. I’m not saying they didn’t work for it. If you have made it in any artistic industry, you have determination, at the very least. There are many talented people in the world, though, and for the vast majority of creators – those skilled musicians, talented wordsmiths, and fearless performers who hold nothing back, who put it all out there for public consumption, judgment, and sometimes ridicule – it sure as hell doesn’t pay. It truly is a labor of love.

For a month, in Edinburgh, one can pretend another world exists, a world in which those with creativity bursting out their very seams are revered for what they have to offer.

People who create for the sake of creating, not knowing if or when it will pay off, they are my people, and it was such a pleasure to spend time with them in Edinburgh.

Here’s a breakdown of what we saw during our days and nights of Fringe, with commentary –

Lizzy Mace’s “Overlooked”

This was the first thing we saw our first day in Edinburgh, and it was a very “me” comedy performance, that rare combination of comedy and heart. The show is set up as a series of short skits that showcase “overlooked” characters, including the fourth bear from Goldilocks and Emily Brontë’s lazy writing partner.

It’s right around the third skit,  with the girl ‘left holding the coats at the end of the night’, that the veil wavers and you get a glimpse of the place from which this show stems, the universal desire to feel understood and appreciated. And that’s what makes it more than just a laugh.

Daphna Baram AKA MissD

This show, we saw the same day we saw Overlooked, and it was straight-up stand-up with Joan Rivers stylings. When we were watching this woman, I honestly thought a little TLC from Joan was just what she needed.

For me, the comedy here was spotty, but what was good was great. In the ‘making the audience extremely uncomfortable’ kind of way.

There were a couple of running themes that didn’t jive for me, but when you can joke about always wearing good lingerie in case you’re the victim of a suicide bombing, you have a unique perspective that you are damn brave to share with the world.

Kitten Killers

The Kitten Killers are a sketch comedy troupe who bill their show as similar to Smack the Pony. Upon reading this claim, and a few positive reviews, Shawna was all the fuck over this. Because Smack the Pony is, quite frankly, one of the greatest things to ever happen to the world.

While there were certainly some Smack the Pony-esque elements embedded within – running gags and comedy songs – they were neither on par with, nor different enough from, Smack the Pony to be memorable.

While most of the sketches had a funny element, they were largely miss, with one exception. A bridal bouquet toss with a slow-mo fight sequence was utterly brilliant.

What Does the Title Matter Anyway?

It was real luck that, while we were in attendance at Fringe, so was Colin Mochrie. When you get a chance to see Colin Mochrie improv live, you don’t pass that up. Plus, Greg Proops.

I laughed just as hard at this on stage as I do at its TV counterpart. Not that it has a TV counterpart, because that is totally trademarked and not at all the show they were doing. Even if the games were the same, and the title sort of sounds like Whose Line is it Anyway?

Blood at the Root

Every once in a while a piece of theater comes along that just blows me away. This was that kind of theater. The subject of racial injustice was far from novel. The scenes that dealt with people of different walks trying and failing to understand each other have been done with far greater subtlety.

The use of dance, the pure physicality in this production, however, is unsurpassed, and there was enough realness to bring me to tears multiple times.

Just a marvel of theater production that couldn’t have been timelier, given the events in Ferguson.

Camden Fringe

Before we made it to Edinburgh, we spent a couple of nights in London while Camden Fringe was underway. So, we got an early start with the play Pussy.

Now, I won’t say the script was flawless. It wasn’t. What I will say is this –

There are two types of drops on roller coasters. The ones that build suspense by ratcheting you slowly up a steep hill so you have plenty of time to utter all the expletives and Hail Marys you need, and the sudden ones that lie hidden in the darkness, or at the far side of a curve, so you can’t see them coming.

Pussy managed a rather splendid sudden drop.

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