Edinburgh Fringe – My Half Dozen Events

It’s traumatic trying to select Edinburgh Fringe events and standing in the queue for the box office only makes matters worse as you’re bombarded with performers pushing their wares. But chatting in the queue can be helpful; it was great to hear so many people talk about Swimming with my Mother by Coisceim Dance Theatre ; but I’d already seen this inspiring piece of dance theatre in Limerick.

My Fringe did not get off to a great start with Ed Reardon: A Writer’s Burdenthe tale of woe from the fiftysomething failed writer. People around me who were fans of the Radio 4 comedy, Ed Reardon’s Week, seemed delighted with the live performance. But for me the miserable, self-obsessed, literary musings were monotonous and irritating; a case of what works on radio not making the transition to live performance.  

Things improved considerably with Bluebeard by Milk Presents theatre company. It is a playful retelling of the fairytale about a husband who kills off his wives, told in a cabaret style. The performance is playful, and quirky and uses music, overhead projections, dance and technology in a whirlwind of movement and energy. On the way out a woman said to me, ‘but it said nothing new’, to which I replied ‘butn it said it with great freshness’.

Alphonse – a one man show with a script by Canadian writer Wajdi Mouawad – was my top event. It is the story of a boy trying to hang on to his powerful imagination as he grows into an adult. The actor Alon Nashman gives an impressive performance in switching over and back between stories and characters while keeping the tension and coherence of the piece.

The Fringe show by the Belgian company Ontroerend Goed was disconcerting and uncomfortable. The audience is the focus of the performance – a man on stage directs a video camera into the stall and the audience looks at itself on-screen.  We did as we were told in response to directions from on stage, only to be reminded from history of how things can turn nasty if we surrender our right to choose.

Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage is a wonderful piece of physical theatre as it romps, crashes, and howls its way through a performance of an adaptation of the Beowulf story. Even if you know nothing of Beowulf, your attention will be held by the energy, pace and variety of the show that includes Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf being torn to shreds.

My last event was not really part of Edinburgh Fringe but a visit to Charlotte Square, the location of the Edinburgh Book Festival where I wandered among the stalls and sat in one of The Guardian colourful deck chairs. So the feasting on theatre and literature is over for another year. And Andrew Maxwell in the running for the overall Comedy Award.


  1. byrnem6 on 25 August 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Enjoyed the post, there really is such a range of events at the Edinburgh Festival! My preference is generally for comedy though it can get a bit too personal if the audience is small… Hope to get back there in the near future. Mike B

  2. mpbyrne on 25 August 2011 at 3:52 pm

    My Fringe was light on comedy this year. Each year I say that I will plan better for the following year.I think it’s good to wait until the 2nd or 3rd week of the Fest – that way you have the benefit of reviews in making selection. Also found I was exhausted with the walking, so next time I will try to group events around the same venue or venues that are reasonably close together. Will also think about becoming a Friend;l for £25 you get free festival programme, lots of ‘2 for 1’ offers and a box office where you do not have to queue for so long. However, the crack in the queues can be fun and informative!