Rollin’ With The Ro
A city built on precipices, a perilous city.
Great roads rush down like rivers in a spate,
great buildings rush up like rockets
Shows – 55
Hangovers – 5
Today’s highly enjoyable day began with a tidy up of mi pad. A couple of weeks of flyers, notes & clothes had basically been accumulating & the place was a complete tip… I even washed up fer feck’s sake! A tidy house is a tidy mind, & thus empowered, the foundations for a fun slice of the Fringe pie were laid. Stepping out into the blinking noon sunshine I pottered up Leith Walk, slowly being absorb’d by the buzz of humanity that rushes around the centre of toon like the atomic particles of Uranium. However, dead still, as still as a forest in winter, were four Chinese folk squatting lotus-style in the yellow uniform of FALUN GONG. They were sat at the far east end of Princes Street, next to the statue of Wellington, & behind several poseters taped onto the floor. They were squatting eyes closed & silent, but the images & text on the posters spoke volumes. Apparently the Communist regime in China is torturing its way through the Falun Gong community, whose truthfulness, compassion & tolerance is changing people’s life for the better. Its a bit like Buddhism meets Tai-chi meets meditation.
Leaving the Falun Gong folk I went up to my first show of the day, MUSE CHANTEUSE (15-20 / 14.30), at SPACE CABARET on the North Bridge (from 22-27 / SPACE@Jeffreys Street / 18.35) . The venue is a Parisian style hotel bar, & I found a wee comfy corner to watch the show. This is a wonderful little cabaret piece, blending LISA BYRNES’ own material with famous classics such as Habenera from Carmen, My Funny Valentine by Rogers & Hart & La Vie en Rose by Edith Piaf. She is a trained opera singer & this tells in her flawless, inspiring voice, delivered with a great confidence. Her accompaniament is a lovely fellow called Chris Taylor, whose fingers danced across his keyboard like cats on a hot tin roof. Cats, thats right, they were cats, & Lisa a purring pussycat, & indeed the show’s theme was the Owl & the Pussycat, a liebmotif they occasionaly brought into the show’s rich & varied soundscape. Of the songs my favorite was one of Lisa’s creations, Fare thee Well, a poignant Burnsian beauty inspired by her grandmothers journey to Australia for love; leaving friends, family & country behind forever. I couldnt find any youtube footage of the show, but here’s a clip of Lisa singing opera in a far grander setting than a hotel bar.
At the same time as I was getting mi high culture, miss Katie Craig went reviewing for me at VENUE 13. & I shall leave you in her more than capable literary hands. In fact she’s reading our one of her short stories on the 27th August at the Book Festival’s Spielgeltent @ 4PM…
At the outset of “Dr Apple” the diminutive “Miss Hyde” bursts on to
the stage. With her sassy New York vowels and thick red rimmed glasses
She looks for all the world like a miniaturised and half baked version
of the secretary from Ghost Busters. She hands cookies amongst the
audience, assuring us they are “pretty loaded” and explaining that we
all now part of a neurological experiment. It’s Doctor Apple’s last lecture of the term, and things are about to go throughly awry. The explosion of dance, music and comedy that follows is the most refreshing antidote to the horror-porn of Irvine Walsh imaginable. Sure, it’s a little wide eyed and optimistic: it definately makes LSD look like a fantastic idea, perhaps even a sollution, and the grusome possibility of it’s links to schizophrenia, for example, are skimmed over as lightly as a stone hopping across the river. Thank goodness, really, because what we have instead is a well executed attempt to honestly convey the experience of the drug: spacial distorition, the loss of the ego, a dislocation of sound and meaning, all are depicted on stage creatively, originally, and most of all convincingly. Some of those in audience who laughed nervously as they bit Into their cookies may well wonder if they’ve been laced after all. What gives solidity to the madness are the sharp and witty lines, the tender portrayal of character, the bright bursts of song and explosions of dance.
Mark Junek’s sensitive portrayal of Apple, a man on the verge of collapse, is deeply endearing and hurt little by his looks- Apple is extremely easy on the eye. Indeed, every member of this young New York cast is a stunner, so much so that it’s quite distracting. When Apple’s ex wife begins to plague his fantasies I can’t help but wondering when these beautiful youths had time for all this life to happen to them. Ultimately: the show is lighthearted and fun. Nessa Norwich steals the show as hide: more bouncy than a trampoline, cookier than cookies and looking, through the acid-gaze of apple, as though she has been illustrated by Dr Zeuss.
If you’re looking for a show with an anti-drugs message for the kids avoid this at your peril- they’ll be writing to Santa asking for some sweet sweet candy- but if you’re in the market for fun, this one is not to be missed.
Back in Damoworld I went off to see a free show at OPIUM on the Cowgate. My reasons for doing were football related. I’d met a Spurs fan who was doing a show on the evening that Tottenham had been drawn against Hearts in the Europa league. Thus, expecting a rowdy atmosphere I thought I’d check out his show on the day of the game (today). Unfortunately, with it being a 17.15 show all the Spurs fans were near Tynecastle at the other end of toon (Spurs won 5-0 by the way). It was still a good crowd, however, & we were in for a treat. The title of the show, THE SINGLES COLLECTION (19-23 25-27 / 17.15) has no real baring on its content, but this is soon forgotten as we enter the cockney comic mindset of Tim Shishodia and Andy Davies. Of them, Shishodia has more kudos (Winner Cavendish New Act 2010, Leicester Square New Comedian of the Year 2010) but it is Davies who takes the senior role, with Shishodia coming across as his backward sidekick. This only heightens the chuckling, however, & the hour is great fun. The comedy itself was super-classic, with Andy Davies revelling in the art of telling hilarious stories with dody punch lines (the journey is the destination I guess) & Shishodian a master of surreal yet sexy one-liners (tha’ts sexy in the ‘I’ve just pissed myself fashion’). A great way to spend yer tea time…
From the Cowgate I quickly sped to VICTOR POPE’S latest show, which was defintely a yang after the recent yins. There were only four people there, two of whom were in their 70’s & definitely didnt get the prostitute song. Still, after the show me old pal Ro Campbell was cycling past the venue on his too-small BMX & gave me a couple of comps for his comedy show, UTTERING BAD SHILLINGS (16-28 / 22.35) at THE STAND COMEDY CLUB 4. Thus with Victor in tow we went along & had a barry old time. I’d met Rowan when I first moved to Edinburgh 7 years ago – he was going out with the cousin of my ex-birds ex – & I’ve seen him slowly work his way up in the comedy world. He’d decided to be a stand up comedian in the Shetland Islands of all places, resulting in 48 14-hour crossings over the stormiest ferry route on the planet, just to get to his mega-bus. Roll on a few years he’s now the Scottish Comedian of the Year 2010 & is about to go on a two month tour of Asia!
Apparently, him actually being Australian didn’t go down well with the Glaswegian crowd at the awards ceremony last year & he got pelted with plastic bottles on the stage. Yet he has Scottish roots (he’s a Campbell) & the experience inspired him to seek out his Scottish identity, the result of which is his totally endearing, often hilarious, highly creative show. We are taken on a journey through time & space, via a mushroom trip at Eyres Rock & a comedy gig in Perth prison to a bunch of tattooed lifers, to discover that his great-great-great grandparents were both Scottish convicts sent to Australia. After all the theatre Ive been watching my mind has become attuned to a good story, & to see it blended into stand-up was inspiring to see.
After Ro’s show he said I could hang with him awhile & gain an insight into the life of a comedian at the Fringe. After his show he had to race across town to headline a Scottish comedians night the UNDERBELLY, which resulted in him cycling & me jogging our way across town. With my hooded top up it looked like a scene from Rocky. We made the show with seconds to spare & Ro literally walked into the theater & onto the stage, sweating & breathless, & went straight into his set. I’d heard most of the jokes back at the stand, but found them even funnier actually, & its interesting to see how joke-virgins respond to material. After the set we then returned to THE STAND – this time the main venue – for more late night comedy. It was nice to see Ro finally relaxing, bantering with the fellow purveyors of his craft & guffawing loudly to the artists.The show is called POLITICAL ANIMAL – compered by wild-haired ANDY ZALZTMAN (22-25 / 00.00), which sees four different comdeians from around the festival perform each night. Of them, I found Richard Sandling’s character – SPAK WHITMAN – to be absolutely hilarious, whose social poetry is side-creasingly funny & is satirically superior to all those poets who take themselves so seriously! He got a show at THE CANONS GAIT (20-28 / 14.25) & I will definitely be going to check it out. I didnt stay til the end, though, what with all the day’s award-winning comedians I’d massaged mi funny bone enough, & the laughter had all-but dried up – but I left Ro with a hug & a thank-you & walked back hame in the warm glow of contentment.