Features Published 16 August 2014

More Fringe Things

With theFringe over half way through, our writers reflect on how Edinburgh has treated them so far.
Exeunt Staff

Dan Hutton in Nothing

Dan Hutton: 2014 was the first time I’ve ever been at the Fringe with a show. And it couldn’t have gone better really. We expected our show – Nothing, in the Old Labat Summerhall – to play to a handful of people every day and maybe have a tiny bit of interest in terms of its form. It’s gone better than any of us could have imagined, however, with national press coverage and sell-out audiences. I’m not saying this to blow our own trumpet, but merely as it made me realise the unpredictability of Edinburgh in August; you go up expecting one thing but, time and time again, you get surprised. Surprised by seeing something good. Surprised by seeing something so dreadful it makes you want to throw things at a human. Surprised by the endless ways in which the theatrical form can be interpreted.

You can never predict what work other people will like, or what theatre will do well on the Fringe, and the moment you try is the moment you lose. In the way that, as a critic, I may enter a show expecting it to be half-boiled but exit with my brain fizzing with ideas and a massive fucking grin on my face, as someone involved in producing a show there’s no way you can second-guess how audiences will respond. I’m back home now, reflecting on it all, but as the show continues and I keep hearing about hidden gems, I continue to feel longing for Edinburgh and its strange, silly, seductive selection of spectacles.

Catherine Love: My eyelids are starting to go. Each time I snap them open, they sag again, dragged downwards by an irresistible weight. I’ve had far too little sleep, I’m sitting in a dark room listening to a constant hum of speech, and every fibre of my body wants to fall asleep.

During Horizontal Collaboration, Fire Exit’s show at the Traverse, I struggle to focus through the fog of tiredness. David Leddy’s text, which cleverly uses the framing device of a war crimes tribunal to prod at the notion of truth, is fascinating but demanding in what it asks of its audience’s concentration. I am, in that moment, the wrong audience member for it.

Some time afterwards (the days all bleed into one) I read something artist Harry Giles posts on Twitter: “Friends! Artists! We have responsibilities to ourselves, to each other and to art to see and make a lot less stuff this month.” I think about my schedule, and about my drooping eyelids during Horizontal Collaboration, and agree that he might have a point.

As a critic, nodding off during a show is a sin no one wants to confess to. If you’re expected to write intelligently about something, staying awake for its duration is surely a bare minimum. But on the Fringe, where sleep is a rare commodity, we all have stories of those shows in which we’ve found ourselves drifting. And how helpful is it, really, to be seeing so many shows if we can’t truly engage with them?

A few days later, another show, another weight tugging at my eyelids. Time for a night in, I think.

Lauren Mooney: It’s a heady, romantic place, the Edinburgh Fringe – in a manner of speaking. I can’t imagine why, but something about the cocktail of stress, constant excessive alcohol consumption and everyone living in each other’s pockets seems to make people get off with each other all the time.

Or so I reflected to myself on a recent 3.30am trudge home, anyway, when I saw a fully grown adult man fingering a fully grown adult lady against the bins, like teenagers with nowhere else to go. On a main road! Just going for it! Talk about a sense of the carnivalesque. Ah romance, I thought. Young-ish love.

Not five minutes later, a drunk woman nearly fell on me. She followed this with, “Aw,” and then, “Hiya,” and then, “Some people are fucking bastards aren’t they? Why are they such fucking total bastards.”

About this time, I realised her boyfriend was waiting and watching from the other side of the street, which solved that little riddle. I said I didn’t know, then goodnight and made to cross over so I could get home. “No!” she shouted, pulling me away from the perfectly empty road and all its potential cars.

“What are you doing?” shouted the boyfriend.

“I’m SAVING HER,” she yelled back.

I thanked her, then crossed, and her voice followed me: “Oh, so you’re going with him are you?” This with a wild gesture towards the boyfriend. “Well goooood luck to you.”

So much romance all in one city. You wonder how it fits.

Read our first batch of postcards from the Fringe.

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Exeunt Staff is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

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