Wednesday, 15 August 2007

The Joy of Eva-Jane in Edinburgh

My fourth Edinburgh Fringe Festival has been a tough one, the environment at the Fringe has changed, the quality and type of work has upset me in its vacuousness and lack of heart, plus Coast to Coast has been something of a tough slog that has left Mark and I questioning why we came here in the first place.

Which is why I am so grateful for the love, support and sheer wonder of Eva-Jane Willis, who has come up to see me twice and been an absolute star. The level of support she has offered to me during this tough time has been immense, above and beyond the call of duty.

I love you Eva-Jane, thank you so much for all that you give me, along as we have each other nothing else matters. You are so beautiful and so brilliant my angel.

Monday, 13 August 2007

A Play in an Art Gallery is All Right if You Can Feel it

It’s not a typo; I had another crushing theatrical disappointment for exactly the same reason as the other post, the show in this case was called England and featured and was written by a wonderful artist called Tim Crouch.

The only trouble was it was missing heart and was once again superfluously site-specific; it didn’t have to happen in an art gallery, it was not essential to the space and the words were not essential to the spectator. I dislike works I can leave without some traces of the show being carried with me.

Having said that, after seeing England Eva-Jane and I popped off to see an American stand-up called Tony Woods who we hoped would alleviate our theatrical blues and indeed he did. Not everyone bought into his show but his relaxed style and wide range of material spanning numerous topics certainly made Eva and I giggle and I hope he gets the coverage and audiences he no doubt deserves.

I don’t know why but I like to support American comics and I go out of my way to see them and to back them, I suppose it comes down the great tradition of US stand-ups who have done so much for the medium and the chance of seeing one of them at the early stages of their career.

If you get a chance, either in the UK or the US, go and sample Tony Woods.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

The Night Phil Kay Died

Phil Kay (not to be confused with Peter) is one of my favourite stand-up comedians because he is not really a stand-up, he is more of a wonderful storyteller with perhaps the greatest imagination of any living comedian.

I sat on the front row eager with anticipation and watched in horror as a Saturday night crowd failed to be impressed by his routine and then went on to destroy it, so that for the majority of the gig he sat on a stool strumming a guitar as they shouted abuse and bad jokes.

Phil Kay used the analogy that he was offering precious flowers and all the idiots were throwing out were car fumes, “aren’t we all people in a room?” he suggested in a heartfelt appeal to the raucous crowd. It fell on deaf ears as they chewed him up and spat him out, it wasn’t so much a comedic death as a massacre.

It was horrible to watch.

Bless you Phil Kay, some of us still have faith in you.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

A Play in a Lorry is All Right if You Can Feel it

Something that has frustrated me during my time up in Edinburgh is the terrible predictability of the critical response to certain shows. Take for example a show written by a middle class, white girl that features non-white actors and is set in a lorry container, so thus ticks the site-specific box.

The show in question is called The Container and although it is a quality piece of theatre it is by no means deserving of the critical plaudits and I’ll tell you why: the writing is simply not up to scratch, it swings between naïve and hectoring and at times cramming inappropriate language into the mouths of characters.

The acting is of the solid sort, with some flashes of real intensity and brilliance but is at times unbelievable and one tonal. The telling truth is that the site-specific nature of the piece, wedged into the back of a lorry soon loses its fear and uniqueness as the space is neutered by the scenography, the dialogue and to a lesser degree the acting.

A real shame, I had high expectations of a show illuminating and extending the debate on immigration but instead it packages neatly so that the critics can feel they are doing something by reviewing it.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Texan Theatre and a Slut in the Hut

One of the joys of Edinburgh is getting to see good shows, there is so much out there and so much crap but occasionally you get a gem that reminds you why you love theatre; live bodies in a space making work for the other live bodies in the space.

As a massive fan of the amazing online comic Get Your War On I knew that there was a good chance I'd love the show performed by Texan theatre company the Rude Mechs and love it I did. High energy, top quality, focused performances from an excellent troupe that conveyed all the funny fury of the injustice of the Bush regime. Laughs, a tinge of sadness and wonderful choreography, if you're an American and they come within 300 miles of you go see them now!

Tim Key and his show Slut in the Hut is a different prospect all together, playing seemingly to his fan base who lapped up every word as if it were treats from the treat tree; he sailed through his performance with great confidence and imagination. However, the show was missing something for me, the format of bad poetry and non-sequiturs quickly ran its course and I was left wanting something more.

More updates as I get time on all the madness I've seen...oh and Eva-Jane has took some lovely photos, more of that later...

Monday, 6 August 2007

The Brutality of the Fringe

At last, time to update the bloody blog.

Fourth Fringe and the brutality of this place still takes me back, all the twats, the student companies, the dross, the glowing reviews for famous acts, the deluge of flyers and posters as the carbon footprint the size of Jesus Christ looms large, the petty bullshit, the stench of corporate super-sized 'Fringe', the drinking, the fucking, it's like an amatuer dramatics fresher's week.

However, there are some highlights, such as our show, performing to live audiences and laying it out there every show for the crowd, an honest effort to tell our story, to entertain and to inspire. Thank God for Hard Graft! The other bonus is meeting straight up, genuine people, of which there is a few and seeing talented performers in action, more of what I've seen in future posts. For now, things are going well and the show is improving and taking a better form. When I've time I'll regale you with stories of American stand-ups, Phil Kay dying, Texan theatre, shows in boxes and museums plus bad poetry!