Day 2- Edinburgh Fringe
I slept surprisingly well in my 12 bed dorm at the hostel, and got up just before 9am to grab a shower. The shower's had been newly renovated since I stayed here last year and are now gorgeous.
The only drawback with the hostel is that the internet is pretty slow. But I am right next door to the Apple Store, so I simply popped in there to use their WiFi to upload my vlog and the interview I did with West End Producer.
When I looked out of my window it seemed sunny, sunny enough for me to put on my vest and sun glasses. This lasted five minutes until I actually got outside and it was overcast. The hoodie went straight back on.
After this I sat in a park for a short while, until a pigeon shat on my shoulder. That's supposed to be good luck right? I blamed the man sat opposite who was feeding them and swarmed with them like he was the bird lady from Mary Poppins. I wouldn't have cared but had not put my hoodie on and just been wearing my hoodie it would have just gone on my arm and not my jumper. I don't know which would have been worse.
I then made my way down to watch Sooz Kempner's one woman stand up show, Mega Drive.
The name is taken from Sooz's obsession with computer games and 90's nostalgia which is the basis for her one hour set, it all reflects on and comments on her personal life as most comedians do.
Sooz is hilarious, and comes from a pedigree of comedians, her brother is Luke Kempner who is known for his impressions and now highly profiled on ITV and Channel 4.
I have known Sooz for a few years, and always enjoy catching up with her and watching anything she does. Having trained in musical theatre she has an incredible voice which she often brings out too. Her new show has been updated since last year which was also in this venue.
The Globe, not to be mistaken for the bankside home of Shakespearian theatre in London, is a pub in Edinburgh with a side room that is part of Edinburgh's Free Fringe. The work produced here is subsidised so that it is completely free to watch. Sooz then stands at the end of the show with a bucket, in a pay what you can set up.
As I arrived I bumped into Richard Thomas, who I had met through Sooz. Incredibly handsome, Richard had just arrived in Edinburgh after stopping in Manchester at the Hope Mill to see a production of his show Jerry Springer the Opera. Richard had been delighted with the new production which I was glad to hear as my friend Tom Lloyd is in it, and his partner James Baker directs.
Richard and I took the back two seats of the room which was completely full. This is possibly down to Sooz social media presence recently taking a huge spike, after she posted a hilarious account of the time she worked as a Christina Aguilera tribute act.
I was born in 1982, three years before Sooz and also grew up through the 90's so I recognised a lot of the references she uses in her set, and found them hilarious, especially the part where she sings and dissects songs that I also remember from primary school assemblies.
But this show isn't just for comic book geeks who will get all the Sonic the Hedgehog references, Sooz's comedy is very universal and her delivery is brilliant, she simply appeals to anyone.
After the show I gave her some Skittles and cakes that I had bought for her, and chatted to her for a few minutes with Simon Lipkin who had also turned up to watch and support her.
Sooz Kempner's show is at the Globe pub and is completely free. She is there until 25th. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/sooz-kempner-mega-drive
I then bumped into my friend Ross and his boyfriend Harrison who is in Edinburgh doing a kid's show. Ross had played Leo Franks in the production of Parade that I produced in 2015. He was leaving Edinburgh later that day which is a shame as I would have liked to have caught up with him.
I had to rush as I was now running late to see Victor, a play that I had been invited to watch.
As I scrambled to find the box office to collect my ticket, I bumped into Andrew Tomlins who has recently relaunched West End Frame as a podcast. Andrew is someone I look up to and admire, he is also one of the people who inspired me to start my blog, after seeing how successful and valued in the industry he had become. He was talking to a PR called Sarah who I have been liaising with since I arrived in Edinburgh.
I managed to grab my ticket and ran into the theatre just as the play was starting. Victor is a play with four actors, described as a new dark, emotional comedy by Russell Obeney.
This is not a play about Victor Frankenstein and is not a horror, but it was horrific. The writing was dreadful, and the performances weren't much better. I really felt for these actors, trying to make any sense of their surroundings. The forty minute play attempted to ascend into a shock ending, which just became absurd, leaving me only questioning why this show had been put on and why these actors had agreed to do it.
I fled from the venue before I bumped into any of the cast incase they spotted me and asked me what I thought.
This was the last performance in their run.
Across Edinburgh the phone service has been terrible, so I stopped off at Costa Coffee, to use their WiFi and treated myself to a chicken wrap, piece of cake and a frappacuino. I also bumped into Laura and Tabitha who were flyering for their show Wrath of Achilles.
I then made my way to Edinburgh Fringe Central, a hub that has been created for participants of the Fringe to meet, and use facilities like photo copying. It was also where their media and press departments are based, and I was here to ask about getting accredited so that I could have a media pass for the festival. I should really have organised this months before I got here, but had left it all to last minute, I sat down and began to fill in the online form.
While I was here I bumped into Richard Lambert who had produced the show Skin Deep last year that my flat mate Shaun was in. I also bumped into and sat down with Alexander Bermange. He is the writer of I Wish My Life Were Like a Musical, a show which I think is brilliant, and that my brother reviewed during one of their two runs at Zedel in London. The show is now here in Edinburgh for the whole month, with a new cast that includes James Hume and Charlotte Steen who I know. I have offered to interview the cast and film the show for them, which we will hopefully do on Sunday.
After this I bumped into the entire cast of Wrath of Achilles, including Jack, Amy, Joey, Tabitha, Keir and my main man Michael.
I gave them all a quick squeeze and then continued on my way to watch Shakespeare! The Panto. Which was another show that I had been invited to watch, and... well... I liked it.
As I arrived at the venue the entire cast, in costume were outside warming up on the street. As is with Fringe, the productions get in and out of each venue in record time, to avoid being charged. This often means that just like I caught this cast doing, they have to resort to warm ups wherever they can.
The show was quite funny, with some very good one liners, Sophy Taylor who played Shakespeare was particular good. Generally it did have a bit of an Am Dram feel about it all, and not everyone was great, but generally it was enjoyable.
Although I will say it didn't really follow or fulfil it's promise as a panto. I think element could have been developed more. It felt more like a farce or just a simple comedy musical, which worked but yeah wasn't quite what I would call a panto. Oh no it wasn't.
It is on until 17th https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/shakespeare-the-panto
After this I went to watch Tami Stone: My Funny Bits. Written by Andrew Ludlam.
I had interviewed Tami in London about her show, so I was excited to now see it, and I will say it is very good. Tami plays a few characters who are perfectly suited and well written for her. There isn't much variance in her performances but they were all very good and very funny, and everyone in the audience including myself were laughing in all the right places and enjoying it.
Tami appeared confident and self assured delivering the one woman show and competently handling the quick changes between characters. As an actress, there were definitely moments where Tami had thought about certain mannerisms of each character which did provide some variance, and I think she can definitely do more with this show. I look forward to seeing what else this team produce.
Tami is only in Edinburgh until 17th. https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/tami-stone-my-funny-bits
I grabbed Tami for a quick catch up and chat after the show, she seemed really happy and has enjoyed being here.
I was feeling a bit tired, but wanted to see one more show, so made my way to the George Square Gardens to see what was on and decided to watch the Atomic Saloon Show, that had been recommended.
This show produced by Australian company Spiegelworld has been brought to Edinburgh as a try out before they take the $5 million show to Las Vegas, where tickets will be $150. Here you can get them for a bargain £16.
It's a brilliant late night circus cabaret show which a beautiful and talented cast.
The show was quite rightly sold out, as I nabbed one of the on stage seats to be even closer to the action. I was then offered a shot of whiskey from one of the cast, as they threw bread rolls around the auditorium.
This show is next level variety and comedy, which each act displaying incredible acrobats, music and sketch. It is the epitome of a great night out. The characters they create are all sensational, and the show show has a really fun sense of energy, and the boys and girls who get down to their underwear are definitely a big attraction and are very cute.
I watched in awe of all the performers, as well as thinking wow if any of these entered Britain's Got Talent, they would win straight away.
The show is on until 25th, with this weekend already sold out.
I had a really great evening, although was torn between wanting to find a friend, have a drink and take in the atmosphere, but also wanted to go home and get some sleep.
I'm trying to pace myself, and not see too many shows. Last year I saw back to back shows and up to seven or eight a day which was just exhausting. I feel happier spreading my self across the twelve days that I am here. So far I am really enjoying myself. It's lovely to bump into people I know, and I know that there are a lot more people here that I haven't even had chance to find.
The accompanying video for this week’s journal can be found on my YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/QqEW2QGqfE0
And the audio version can be found as a podcast here: https://anchor.fm/thatstageyblog/episodes/Day-2--Edinburgh-Fringe---Audio-e4vutg