The much acclaimed Edinburgh Fringe truly lived up to its name in August 2015. The crowded streets of the mile, the small tucked away cafés and of course the amazing variety of shows, performances and even fireworks, leave the impression that it is the face of culture.
One walk down a central street and you will miraculously find your hands full with 6 flyers from eager students, actors and volunteers. The mile, full of eccentric costumes, lively buskers and an array of physical theatre - the combination of music, art and theatre make it a place of vitality and inspiration.
Though many do not focus on it, the musicality at the fringe is diverse and innovative. For example, you can range from seeing ‘Blues!’ in the Jazz Bar to a musical production representing Bollywood (‘Ticket To Bollywood’). This production was one of my favourites of my time there - the vivid colours, complementing the traditional Indian dance-moves, created an authentic Indian atmosphere in the middle of a cold and blustery Edinburgh. The show was narrated at points by a voiceover, informing the audience of the background of the Bollywood culture by explaining traditional plots and the reasoning behind certain dances. This made the performance more meaningful and educational in terms of the Indian culture. There were also more modern events incorporating music, such as ‘Hot Dub Time Machine.’ The DJ, Tom Lowndes, has set a trend to become known as the ‘world's first-time travelling dance party.’ Though a hot and sweaty scene (and not somewhere to go with parents!), the talented mixes of modern anthems led to many saying, ‘Let’s go - it’s too ho…COMING OUT OF MY CAGE AND NOW I’M DOING JUST FINE’, and immediately traipsing back in again...
A further aspect of the fringe was the consistently strong dramatic performances. Though not all performances were of a high standard, most that I saw were cathartic, moving and exceptionally well performed. For example, Bryony Kimming’s ‘Fake It ‘Til You Make it’ production explores the illness of clinical depression. The show tells of Bryony and boyfriend Tim, who has kept his illness a secret from her, and how their relationship develops. As the secret unravels, Kimmings concludes her ideas on love and what it is to be a ‘real man’ through a painfully truthful and heartbreaking portrayal of the struggle of depression.
On a lighter note, the comedy produced this year was of the highest standard I have seen in the past five years of attending the Fringe. One of my favourite productions was ‘Sh*t-faced Shakespeare’ where a group performed ‘The Merchant of Venice’ - with one of the characters (Bassanio) under the influence (having drunk over two and half bottles of wine). The alternative take on the production created a fantastic form of improvisation on the classic Shakespearean text. The breaking of the fourth wall meant the audience and the actors were more connected through the shared enjoyment of Bassanio’s outrageous comments.
Similarly, the improvised comedy ‘Austentatious’ provided a new take on classical literary texts. In this performance, the audience wrote down suggestions of the play's title and put them into a hat. One of the actors chose the title of the play accordingly and the fellow actors improvised the plot in the style of a Jane Austen novel. The actors intertwined elements of satire, parody and realism with modern comedic elements that drew the audience in. ‘Austentatious’ is now on tour around the UK and is definitely a must see!
The Fringe is always an exciting and enjoyable place to be, whether you’re interested in comedy, burlesque or even ghost tours there is something there for everyone to enjoy.
Original image by Sally Nolan