Page 1


NopISduHo AthN M Yao& K p FkaRraIS e oke ch s with LIK AomRbiTg scMreA e en to small stag fr

AXWELL EW Mco ANDRki ng of medy? still the

AIR GRAY ALASD ess late in life on succ








Just for Edinburgh






Just for the Fringe PM ER • 8.30 K A P Y R N HE E HUT PLEASANC


Just for Laughs! 0131 622 6552

MICK PERRIN FOR 0131 556 6550

JERRY SADOWITZ • 9PM ASSEMBLY HALL Check out all the details a t mickperrin.c om 0131 226 0000

The Invisıble Dot presents

‘No other act comes close to the hilarity and talent of The Horne Section.’  HERALD SUN (Aus)

‘Fresh, original, blissfully funny; a whole lot of fun. Highly recommended.’  TIME OUT

3rd - 27th August. 11pm. Assembly George Sq Spiegeltent.

Welcome to



festcontents GET MORE ONLINE

There’s even more content on our all-new website at

Fest publishes its festival guide every Tuesday and Friday throughout August. Pick them up from venues across Edinburgh


EDITORIAL Editor Evan Beswick Deputy Editor Joe Spurgeon Comedy Editor Lyle Brennan Theatre Editor Yasmin Sulaiman Music Editor Marcus Kernohan Books Editor Dan Nicholson-Heap Kids Editor Ruth Dawkins

The method behind the madness

Dave Gorman and his bookish brethren reveal how your comedy sausage gets made

The Red Dragon roars

Pioneering theatre from Wales heads north

PRODUCTION Creative Director Matthew MacLeod Photography Editor Claudine Quinn Copy Editor Hannah Van Den Bergh Web Editor Marcus Kernohan Production Deputy Dan Nicholson-Heap


Peter Geoghegan, Ben Judge, Si Hawkins, David Hepburn, Julian Hall, Jay Richardson, Edd McCracken, Malcolm Jack, Stevie Martin


Brian Donaldson, Jo Caird, Joe Pike, Matt Trueman, Kelly Apter, Ed Ballard, Lyle Brennan [LB], Paul Burch [PB], Anna Feintuck [AF], Sam Friedman [SF], Matthew Macaulay [MM], Dan Nicholson-Heap [DH], Junta Sekimori [JSe], Joe Spurgeon [JS], Catherine Sylvain [CS], Amy Taylor [AT], Yasmin Sulaiman [YS] PUBLISHED BY Fest Media Limited Registered in Scotland number, SC344852 30-38 Dalmeny Street, Edinburgh EH6 8RG THE SMALL PRINT Every effort has been made to check the accuracy of the information in this magazine, but we cannot accept liability for information which is inaccurate. Show times and prices are subject to changes - always check with the venue. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reprodiced in whole or in part without the explicit permission of the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within this publication do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the printer of the publisher.

Lifting the Veils

Puppetry specialist Leila Ghaznavi returns with 2010’s acclaimed Silken Veils and a new play


! follow usg @festma

Heathen chemistry

Godless polymath Robin Ince implores you to do the reading

FEST SUPPORTS AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL AT THE FESTIVAL Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. 4 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011



MTV’s one-time wild man on his move from the box to the bear pit of standup 12 COMEDY 15 On the money

Meet the Irish jokers turning economic woe into comedy gold

24 Happy returns

Reigning Best Newcomer Roisin Conaty recounts her ride to success

26 Snap, cackle and pop

Karaoke in a padded cell with smash hit parodists Frisky and Mannish

31 Tricks of the trade

The current crop of conjurers on magic and comedy’s happy marriage

38 THEATRE 42 Art Malik

84 Fancy a snack? We’ve ten of the best cafés to top up your caffeine

44 David Leddy

86 Thirsty? Our top ten bars should solve that

48 Dream Pill

88 You’re likely to need some food. Here’s ten top eateries

56 Target: Audience

90 Five of the best websites and apps to help get the most out of your Fringe experience

The ex-Holby City and big screen actor prepares for his Fringe debut The site-specific master on his first show in a conventional theatre Jo Caird swots up on Clean Break’s hard-hitting play about child sex-trafficking Sam Friedman looks at the Edinburgh shows that put the audience out front

62 KIDS 62 The kids are all right

Fringe fun for the young: our hand-picked highlights

64 Impress me. Now.

Meet our discerning kid critics...

66 BOOKS 66 Gray for today

92 There’s more to Edinburgh than the festival. Here’s ten ideas for heading beyond the fringe 94 Five of Edinburgh’s best shops to lighten your wallet 96 Loose licensing laws mean late nights. Our top ten after hours hangouts should get the party started

68 Also showing

98 On a budget? Not unreasonable. Here’s five moneysavers to help the pennies go further


advertise in fest

Glasgow’s artistic/literary giant Alasdair Gray speaks The lit parade: under the radar bookish thrills

73 Let’s make a song and dance out of it Cabaret gets its own strand at the Fringe 2011

77 EIF 80 Bo selector

Rising Chinese ballet star Fei Bo on resurrecting one of the Ming dynasty’s most epic works

Don’t know your Old Town from your New? No idea what time the one o’clock gun goes off? We’ve put together a handy selection of top fives and top tens of all things Edinburgh and Fringe-related to keep you on the straight and narrow. Here’s how to navigate it:

With over 110,000 copies, fest is the biggest and best magazine at the Fringe Contact for more information

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 5


t s e f f o s r a e y n e T al soup out of the primordi d he rc lu e w e nc Fringe. Si come tenth year at the nce Courtyard has sa ea Pl e th at r This will be Fest’s lla otty ce le moments d that began in a gr our most memorab in 2002, the tabloi of n te e ar re he , k the occasion a long way. To mar

tons (2006) il m a H e th h it Bowling w e are AMILTONS K/TENYEARS/H

.W u have got us into ite know what yo ] calling le op pe f [o “Martin, I don’t qu h pped by a bunc na kid en be g ke us bowling. in a taxi havin y they want to ta sa ey Th . ts lis na tine Hamilton themselves jour u get this.” - Chris yo n he w ck ba e Please call m


m milton, fresh fro ody Christine Ha red a good du en The beyond-par ng vi ha Celebrity... and d Neil, a stint on I’m a ith her husban gutter press w view. er int st Fe sluicing in the r d of he es her PR ahea nervously phon

ries Fern Brady t 9) standup (200 EA G.CO.UK/TENY WWW.FESTMA


four weeks “I have spent the last ing and feeling shaking, hyperventilat ne from so ill that I lost half a sto like all of my shitting out what felt rn Brady internal organs.” - Fe cts of some It may sound like the effe but this was , ase dise al stin horrific inte se to the pon res s our petrified writer’ standup for prospect of performing ed the ranks of the first time. Brady join ask “How hard to ed dar e hav critics who baptism of a ed viv can it be?” and sur dreds. Unlike fire before a crowd of hun e gone on to sinc has she , ugh tho , others . edy com in eer pursue a car

Brendon Burns ) 006 dries out (2 YEARS/BURNS WWW.FESTMAG


the neXt

bIg thIng on the traIl of

The next Big Thing (2009)

rity and are plucked from obscu man spends a day of Fringe comedians Fried who decides? Sam Every year a handful dy and Radio stars. But of BBC Radio Come transformed into TV dy talent with Jane berthoud, head scouting for new come



ing with him; he’s “We’re doing someth e Berthoud bloody good.” - Jan

meets up with Head Two years ago, Fest an Jane Berthoud for dy me Co of BBC Radio ting around cou t-s en tal of t eye-opening spo e nues. She’s got som the city’s smaller ve d about the littletol ’re We ay. sw s seriou t on, who’s just caugh known Nathan Cat Pleasance le scu nu mi the at Berthoud’s eye off a year or two, and, Attic. Skip forward sCaton’s been commi , ow sh t tha of ck the ba for Radio 4. ies ser n ow his ite sioned to wr


lown absolutely “I went mad, full-b an we’re talking fucking mental. I me d swig of cognac a wrap of coke an my boy from before picking up bottom.” school. [I’d hit] rock - Brendon Burns endon Aussie comic Br candid mood, Burns, in a very morning in late remembers the y when he finall 06 20 ry ua br Fe the drugs in ck pa to ed decid to find himself having awoken n faeces, a ow his in d covere donism he ss tle len year of re toll. y av he a n having take festival guide 2009 10 fest edinburgh

Aug 25 - 30

6 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

10yearsoffest it come Jim Rose: has ) to this? (2008





gives way to d animated front an r ge ea e’s os “R ussing the hargy when disc an element of let ll and a hint eyes become du future. The bright ce was can : perhaps what on of fear creeps in s, Fest ted.” - Chris William never be reenac








d star of many a of the wrong an s The ringmaster e slick soundbite th all spoke with ars in ye his ‘90s freak show by d de anecdotes affor sa and outrageous dman veneer wa t behind the ma Bu . ht lig ot sp grotesque exst the mo e th en ev th that . faintly tragic tru eventually get old d mutilation will hibition of sex an


On holiday with 09) Hans Teeuwen (20 WWW.FESTMAG.CO.



feature comedy for kids for feature comedy


t doing it for the

Bongo Club, he scene: the 10th JanuEdinburgh, Monday blonde child ary, 2009. A small, stands on his in the front row He has facing the crowd. ped mother’s knee, wrist an oddly-sha attached to his referred which he has balloon animal, In a deep, “vampire bee.” to earlier as a accent that reverberbooming Russian room, he addresses you ates around the at you, but I want us. “I am smiling


you’re in s? eyes. you think “Look into mythink you’re running thing Listen to what charge? you my face and s n your dream stare deep into am the reaso i am saying: i n.” wiLL never happe

terrifying.” is one of the key If unpredictability g stand-up for performin be challenges in can sometimes is kids, this challenge Brendon Burns turned on its head. for his But the adult circuit m of being children.” “In well-known on shtick, d. the enthusias g, PC-skirting the unexpecte brutal, excoriatin know you have to expect some people to the audience an ask you if so it will surprise chilan adult gig, what performed for you kind of know that he’s regularly an absolute storm. open question, down to be,” he admits, perdren and gone ous the answer’s going comedians do. It’s his rambuncti what for Burns says that “because that’s but on a when he performs Derren Brown, sona is the same while I’m a little bit like then we riff a bigger smile ted level. And kids (“I just have desire g, less sophistica so too is his fervent like we’re improvisin yelling!”) and on it and it looks do that the way his audience tricks. But you to slightly alter that’s one of the absolutely and you’ve got sees the world. age with children, do is dispel the coming back.” “What I try to their with at no idea what’s things do command kids do barrier and let Campbell’s second-innot allowed to Tiernan Douieb, parents that they’re “So I normally the club, the comedian “I live me. examples. tells of he plenty normally,” is somehas gathered bean; by saying ‘This a burnt baked but start off the gig in a leek; I’ve seen worked out yet, of bananas: you’ve I thing you haven’t my teacher’s scared anything,” he just people.’ Then for your parents are your got to be prepared Kirshen to do a gig front row, ‘What’s Matt ask a kid in the say laughs. “We got shouted And he might of the children dad’s first name?’ this once and one on I say: ‘Okay, just your face?’ What ‘Brian.’ And then out: ‘Why is that to call your dad with that?” do allowed to you’re meant once, to his Earth was he get him to turn uninhibited, streamBrian.’ Then I’ll shout While children’s count of three, heckling can produce He dad, and on the know?’” of-consciousness what do you very funny moments, ‘Shut up Brian, a big kick some lovely and the kid will get scary. Douieb chuckles. “And it can also be genuinelywhich a “little a gig in out of that.” once compered things even furstarted in the front row Burns then pushes in the audience Che Guevara” the child words back at after ther. He gets every ” throwing random parents and repeat word “revolution to turn to their into acts, affixing the pointedly: “Look one: “Dog revoluhim, slowly and charge? in to the end of each Ginger ! you’re revolution my eyes. You think Stare tion! Mobile phone running things? revolution! Banana I You think you’re revolution! Monkey kids started and listen to what other deep into my face revolution!” The hear the acts couldn’t joining in until

dead.” vision is not taken This disturbing avant garde horror from a piece of Kids, Comedy Club 4 theatre, but from t that’s of experimen a different kind at the Fringe and now been running The club over four years. elsewhere for from ed comedians invites experienc out of circuit to step the normal, adult standzone and perform their comfort of children, ranging up for an audience and their 13, to five in ages from about

, it and there s a it, Adam Hills is doing Brendon Burns loves Fringe. Stand-up comedy for at the be more dedicated show stuff. It might even t children is now serious up counterpart, finds Tom Hacket grownexciting than its

a really was like themselves speak. “It Douieb, his eyes says children’s revolt,” recalls it. On another widening as he sweets a few too many occasion when looked round, “one kid had been passed of the and said, ‘I’m scared was me in the eye It life and my life.’ dinosaur of your

parents. in fact Russian voice The booming comedian Adam belongs to Australian onstage behind Hills, who is crouchedand attempting to boy the five year-old to the room. “At convey his thoughts says Hills, contortit,” least I think that’s “What face the child. ing his body to child thinking?” The really you and are his balloon animal starts squeezing voice: angry, staccato shouting in an your kill you, I’ll punch that’s “I’ll get you, I’ll your nose!” “Gosh, ears and punch than what I said,” even more disturbing laughs Hill. founder, The Comedy Club’s be Campbell, would comedian James such a weird response unsurprised by a comedian’s question. from a child to of the best you have one at “In some ways you’ll ever have comedy audiences “They’re sober, me. our club,” he tells they have be there, and they want to

festival Aug 18 - 20 edinburgh

11 guide 2009 fest festival 10 fest edinburgh

18 - 20 guide 2009 Aug

009) Comedy kids (2 O.UK/TENYEARS/K WWW.FESTMAG.C


‘I’m in the eye and said, “One kid looked me my life.’ aur of your life and scared of the dinos Tiernan Douieb It was terrifying.” -

te ‘n’ Live – this wreckheads at La Forget the howling edy shows for com popularity of look at the growing the weirdest as s r-7 de un e th ed children establish on Burns were am Hills and Brend crowd around. Ad catalogue of a t ou d who turne among the comics ponses their res er metimes sinist the surreal and so . ed eiv rec d kid-friendly gigs ha

. ‘But there’s no gig or smokes before a gig “Teeuwen never drinks xt thing I know it’s h a mischievous grin. Ne tonight’, he tells me, wit home with a belly full 2am and I’m staggering ad full of fantastic, of Dutch lager and a he stories – all of which, ention to himself like outrageous Teeuwen a numpty to draw att of bit a be st mu slie .” “Le the record sadly, are completely off okeswoman this.” - Underbelly sp - Sam Friedman, Fest s

wdy (2003) John Leslie gets ro

to the Dutch capital for Having been flown out te with Holland’s fin-tê a pre-Edinburgh tête-à se of Amsterdam (not tho est, Fest hits the bars ... rry blu le litt a is t res bars). The

Junta the 08) ladyboy (20 EA G.CO.UK/TENY WWW.FESTMA


cision to leave “Making the de ns, I sexual inhibitio behind all my try on d sy boxers an slip off my flim m thong.” his faintly war ori - Junta Sekim sacrifice, e feat of selfIn an impressiv Sekimori volunteered nta Fest staffer Ju dyboys of one of the La to “fake it” as riptions of sc de c hi ap gr Bangkok. Cue contortion oval, genital body hair rem ng with a ki al w lenge of and the chal lled it off pu bingly, he wiggle. Distur rather well.

d for seriou eks after being cleare amy (a mere two we plus ten lie Les n Joh ter At the peak of his inf sen s) beleaguered TV pre and sexual assault charge luding tabloid darling abusive” friends, inc ting and d lou dy, row k, Underbelly for disrup “drun the of out ked kic are ss, t mu Fes Tit i m Ab fro ry end then girlfri Mail buys the sto . Allegedly. The Daily promises and rgh nbu Edi Gary Le Strange’s set to ne orter on the next pla ff to g into the white stu for £1,000, puts a rep dence of Leslie tuckin evi es. mis any pre for us the m bon 0 fro a £3,00 y escorted and friends are quietl boot. Allegedly. Leslie

007) Tommy vs the tabloids (2 EARS WWW.FESTMAG.CO.UK/TENY


News of the World journalists “If it was on the news that five ces, the police would have had been shot dead in their offi a start.” called it a massacre. I call that - Tommy Sheridan Sunbed socialist Sheridan gave a characteristically mouthy interview to promote his damp squib of a chat show. This, of course, was before his tortuous legal battle with the NotW landed him on the wrong side of a perjury zed charge. Today, with the bron Fleet his and bars ind beh ger swin dole Street adversaries joining the er. queue, neither looks too clev

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 7

8 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

Tom Green:

r e k o r b k c h o S

V’s fratboy favourite insists his MT g. pin um e-h os mo of ys da Gone are the eap thrills. t artistic integrity, not just ch ou ab all is up nd sta o int ay for started an from the place where it all nn Bre le Ly to ks tal n ee Gr Tom


t’s Canada Day and Tom Green is back home visiting the folks in Ottawa. Were this 13 years ago, his parents Richard and Mary Jane would be sleeping with one eye open, ready to stagger out of bed and find their son airbrushing a lesbian porn scene onto their car, slipping a cow’s head between their sheets or hiding blaring radios all over the house at 4am. Such stunts were standard procedure for a twenty-something manchild trying to carve himself a niche as the mad hatter of cable TV. So when the older, possibly wiser Green interrupts our chat to let his longsuffering mother into the house, I’m almost surprised not to hear his mild-mannered greeting followed by a horrified shriek. But this is 2011, and things are a little different for the man responsible for two MTV series, a sporadic rap career and the gleefully juvenile shock flick Freddy Got Fingered – which was mauled by critics a decade ago but remains a favourite among his mostly young, mostly male cult following. His visit to Ottawa marks a rare break from the hectic touring schedule he has maintained since he took on his latest incarnation as a standup comedian in 2009. “I’m going non-stop,” he says. “People keep booking me to come, so I have to go, because I know every time I go onstage I get a little bit better, I know a bit more.” Eager to “keep the rhythm going of being onstage”, earlier in the week he played a one-off slot at a local venue called Yuk Yuk’s – the club where, albeit in different premises, he first flirted with standup aged 15. The setting may have been familiar, but the crowds were considerably

bigger this time round. It might come as a surprise to learn that Green can still attract fans in droves, given that he hasn’t had a regular television career since 2003. But after MTV dropped The New Tom Green Show he went to ground and has sustained his sizeable fanbase in the only place weird enough to accommodate his stilted brand of shock humour: the internet. In 2006, Tom Green’s House Tonight, which brought 38 million video views to his website each month, cut him loose from the clutches of producers, censors and sponsors. Streaming live from the living room of his California home, he presented the surfing public with cosy, casual interviews with celebrity friends, off-the-cuff horseplay and live callers on Skype. It was his house, his rules, and now standup comedy is offering him a similar sense of liberation. “Honestly I think I’ve found something now that I’ve been striving for for the last 20 years, which is creative freedom and independence as a comedian,” he says. “When I was doing my show on television it was always exciting, but you always had to run everything past somebody. There was always a feeling that you weren’t in control of your own fate.” His love affair with the internet, dating back to 1996, provided the launch pad for his standup – yet his attitude towards technology is ambivalent. When he comes to Edinburgh he’ll wield an arsenal of gadgets for shooting and uploading clips on the hoof, but he’ll spend much of his stage time looking at the pitfalls of social media. Green, who turns 40 the week before his run begins, says: “It’s an interesting age because if you’re 30 or 25 you don’t really remember what it was like before the internet or before cellphones. And that’s a very significant shift in the way that we’re living, the way that we communicate and socialise with each other.” “It makes doing standup a lot more fun when you’re 39 than when you’re 19,” he adds. “I’ve definitely got a lot more stuff on my mind that I 

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 9

festfeature  feel strongly about, I’ve been through a lot more in my life, I’ve had a lot of crazy experiences over the years, stuff that I feel the need to get up onstage and make comedy about.” In that sense, he’s certainly not lacking in stories to draw on: his testicular cancer operation, which he filmed for an MTV special ten years ago; his attempt, at a hiphop festival last year, to rescue trashy reality TV star Tila Tequila from a hail of rocks and faeces; the much-publicised collapse of his five-month marriage to Drew Barrymore in 2001. But even with his real-life and observational material, Green has found he cannot shake his onscreen past. “There’s been some shows where it’s just so raucous because people are so excited to see me. They’re big fans of Freddy Got Fingered and they’re shouting out all the lines from the movie. And I’ve been like: ‘Ok, Jesus! I want to start talking about what I want to talk about’.” He insists he doesn’t mind that his rowdier disciples make his shows unpredictable rather than derailing them altogether. This patience makes sense for a man who knows which side his bread is buttered, whose gratitude to longtime fans sees him stay behind after shows to sign DVDs and gurn for snapshots. But at the same time, Green knows he can’t play only to those who have seen Road Trip 27 times. “If I knew that all I had to do was walk up onstage and sing ‘Daddy, would you like some sausage?’ then I wouldn’t have written any jokes this year,” he says, quoting a typically nonsensical catchphrase from Freddy. He sets himself high standards, enthusing about the process of “microanalysing” his jokes in search of the perfect set. But with his dedication to the stage comes the need for other projects to shift on the backburner. While the web show has been on hiatus since Green went on the road, there’s also the small matter of Prankstar, the film he insists is finished and simply waiting for distribution. When asked about its content, he is cagey: “I can’t really talk about it because it’s so crazy that I don’t want to give anything away.” A quick search reveals that a company called Elixir Films was at one point planning to release the film as far back as 2006. Its synopsis, in which a fictionalised version of Green lets two students film his disastrous road trip across Canada, reads like a snippet

10 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

up onstage and k al w as w do to d “If I knew that all I ha I some sausage?’ then e lik u yo ld ou w , dy sing ‘Dad jokes this year” y an n te rit w ve ha t wouldn’ from some parallel universe, a nightmare in which he never finds the momentum provided by standup. “Beginning in Hollywood, the crew documents Tom withstanding a barrage of insults, shallow hangers-on, and the loneliness of waning fame… Tom is met with an uncaring public and fans who can’t help but bring up his past… Prankstar takes over where Tom’s career in Hollywood left off.” Whether Prankstar will ever see the light of day remains uncertain, as with the rap songs Green records in his home studio – “I have probably a couple hundred songs I’ve recorded that noone’s ever heard.” So, with an unseen movie and a hoard of music rotting in the archives, what’s to say his latest venture isn’t just another dis-

posable pet project? It’s off to a strong start, but might he abandon his standup career if it falters in the long run? Green is adamant that he won’t. “I’m planning on doing this now for the next 20 years,” he says. “I’m going to keep doing this and I love it.” It’s a surreal image: 2031, with Green aged 25-going-on-60 and his former fratboy devotees still hollering obscure references at the stage. Whether he will last that long is impossible to say – but his run at this year’s Fringe should give us some idea. f

Tom Green: World Comedy Tour @ Udderbelly 3-14 Aug, 10:55pm, £10-15

productions believe in butter flawless

free run

6pm 3-29 August, Pleasance Grand

3-29 August, E4 Udderbelly

parkour | martial arts | acrobatics

intergalactic dream

shlomo mouthtronica

9pm 4-28 August Underbelly at Cowgate

the lounge room confabulators

6pm & 9pm 3-29 August Your Living Room

michael winslow 8pm 4-28 August

the adventures of alvin sputnik: deep sea explorer


the late show

E4 Udderbelly

12midnight 5-28 August Underbelly at Cowgate

6pm 4-28 August Underbelly at Cowgate

Thursday - Sunday 5-28 August Underbelly at Cowgate


Highlights We’ve trawled the program so you don’t have to. Here’s our roll-call of the best comedy at the Fringe

Take a chance

Draw HQ


Tom Rosenthal


Draw HQ

Current Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year and son of sportscaster Jim, this highly promising Londoner was recently seen stealing the show in Channel 4’s Friday Night Dinner.



Neil Hamburger ASSEMBLY GEORGE SQUARE, 15-28 AUG, 10.40PM, £12

Gregg Turkington’s odious alter-ego coughs up some absolute stinkers. He looks as if he’d be slick to the touch and he probably hates you. Somehow, he’s still a very appealing prospect.


Hannibal Buress

PLEASANCE COURTYARD, 4-29 AUG (NOT 15), 9.45PM, £14-£15

Anatomising the smallest of trifles, Buress has made quite a name for himself back home in the States. Will his material survive the trip or die of scurvy on the way?

Tony Law


Few can remain so captivating while talking complete and utter rubbish, but it probably helps when you’re as cool as this. His unfocused rambling occasionally runs aground, but this is quality stuff.

The Behemoth

PLEASANCE COURTYARD, 4-29 AUG (NOT 16), 4.45PM, £9-£11

High concept comedy, if ever such a thing existed. John-Luke Roberts and Nadia Kamil attempt to pick up their narrative from where they left it – three years ago.


Holly Walsh

Bridget Christie

Well, it’s about bloody time. Walsh cheated death when she ploughed a homemade aircraft into the sea in August. Thankfully, she’s in one piece for her long-awaited solo debut.

Bridget Christie not only did a full show in character as an ant last year, but pulled it off brilliantly. This year’s outing is hotly ant-icipated.


PLEASANCE COURTYARD, 4-29 AUG (NOT 15), 6PM, £8.50-£9.50

12 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

Claes Gellerbrink





Edward Aczel

Draw HQ


Late Night Gimp Fight

PLEASANCE COURTYARD 3-29 AUG (NOT 20), 10.30PM, £9.50-£12

These filthy little beggars slithered their way onto the best newcomer shortlist in 2010, dragging sketch comedy firmly into the realm of the wrong.

UNDERBELLY, COWGATE 5-28 AUG, 7.20PM, £9.50-£11.50

Dreary, unprofessional and utterly inspired. This quietly brilliant paragon of anti-comedy should be a staple in any varied Fringe diet.


Nick Helm


Gale-force standup and songs performed at you, not to you. There’s a sour centre lurking just beneath Helm’s enthusiasm. You are advised to give it a taste.


The Pajama Men

ASSEMBLY HALL, 4-29 AUG (NOT 15), 9PM, £14

A welcome return for the New Mexican duo who are capable of spiriting up entire flights of fancy using nothing but mime and childish nightwear. Steve Ullathorne


Gentlemen of Leisure

JUST THE TONIC @ THE CAVES, 4-28 AUG (NOT 17), 3.20PM, £8

Quick of wit and couth of manner, the GoL killed last year. Refined duo Tom Neenan and Nish Kumar return with this sketch show for the literary minded.


Andrew Maxwell


The elfin Irishman continues to spin yarns in The Lights Are On. Catch this full-run show, or kill for a ticket to the one-off ruckus that is Fullmooners (well, don’t).


Tim Key

PLEASANCE DOME, 3-29 AUG (NOT 15), 9.45PM, £14

Now a bona fide big hitter, comedy’s worst poet solemnly marries the epic to the mundane, achieving ridiculous results every time. Our choice for Britain’s next laureate.


Isy Suttie

Steve Ullathorne

Draw HQ


Suttie weaves offbeat musical numbers into her all-new cyberspace love story. Perhaps we can stop calling her “Dobby from Peep Show” now.

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 13


ON THE MON€Y Ireland might not be building houses anymore, but it’s still producing fine comedians. Peter Geoghegan discovers how the Emerald Isle’s funnymen have been interpreting the financial catastrophe

14 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011


hy have estate agents stopped looking out the window in the morning?” begins a gag that has been doing the rounds in Dublin for the last 18 months or so. “Otherwise they’d have nothing to do in the afternoon.” In Ireland, a wry, gallows humour about the nation’s financial misfortunes permeates. Across the country people exchange increasingly bizarre real-life tales: the estate where one woman lives surrounded by hundreds of empty houses; the train station in a derelict field near Dublin Airport, built to service a massive development that never happened; the former property magnate who now cleans windows on O’Connell Street. It’s often said that comedy does well in a recession – and the big ‘R’ is firmly in the sights of a host of Irish comics at this year’s Fringe. “I call this my bailout tour. Last year, I was in Greece, this year I was in Portugal. I pity wherever I go next year,” says Keith Farnan, whose fourth Edinburgh outing Money, Money, Money is billed as an exploration of “Ireland’s brief love affair with vast amounts of money and fiscal meltdown.” Mementos of this failed romance with global capitalism lie dotted around the country’s capital: ubiquitous for sale signs, unfinished apartment blocks, grandiose pieces of public art. Dublin, of course, is not all Rome after the fall. There are still plenty of salubrious city centre hotels, the kind of places where you find piped jazz music, chintz sofas, ladies who lunch… and, er, amiable Irish comics who bear a passing resemblance to Zach Galifianakis. “I didn’t realise this place was so fancy,” Keith Farnan admits when we meet, on his suggestion, in Dublin’s upmarket Westin Hotel. In front of him, on a glass-topped table, sit a pair of sunglasses, a plate of biscuits and the business section of The Irish Times. Since he started writing Money, Money, Money back in January, the financial pages have become required reading – and have led the hirsute funnyman to some sobering conclusions. “This is the worst recession we’ve ever had. We’ve been poor in the past, but we’ve never been stressed and poor before. It’s not a good combination.” Farnan himself is no stranger to straitened circumstances. Back in 2006, at the zenith of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger frenzy, the Cork native swapped a comfortable life as a lawyer for the vagaries of full-time standup. “I went from a secure, well-paid job to literally nothing. While my friends were buying second homes, I was investing in loaves of bread and buying shares in ham and cheese. Making a new company – the sandwich.” With three successful Fringe shows and a star turn on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow behind him, Farnan is now wellestablished on the circuit, but he found




“I went from a secure, well-paid job to literally nothing. While my friends were buying second homes, I was investing in loaves of bread and buying shares in ham and cheese. Making a new company – the sandwich”

Left Keith Farnan Right Colm O’Regan Overleaf Abie Philbin Bowman

writing about Ireland’s economic travails an unexpected challenge. “Last year’s show [Sex Traffic] was about prostitution and rape. After that I thought Money, Money, Money would be easy – but it’s been anything but. It’s been a struggle at times,” he remarks ruefully. Farnan describes the crash—which began with the global credit crunch in September 2008—as “Ireland’s 9/11”. That might sound a tad melodramatic but the effect on the national psyche of 1,000 people emigrating every week, unemployment at 14 per cent and a whopping $85 billion in bad debts has been catastrophic. Ireland’s writers, poets and playwrights have struggled to make sense of the desolate, post-collapse landscape (indeed the task of reflecting the nation back to itself, warts and all, has largely been ceded to comedians, at least temporarily.) “Comedy is the most immediate medium. What’s in the news will often influence your act,” suggests Farnan. “You can also gauge where something sits with people. If you stand up and make a gag that’s too close to the bone, that hits too hard, you’ll get boos. A novelist can’t get that kind of immediate feedback.” Another Irish comedian with the financial meltdown firmly in his sights, Abie Philbin Bowman, agrees: “In comedy you know if something is shit or self-indulgent pretty much immediately. If you become preachy or start lecturing, people switch off, they stop laughing.” Philbin Bowman, a garrulous, fresh-faced Dubliner on the “geeky, philosophical end of comedy”, caused a minor sensation at his first Fringe, in 2006, with his sell-out show Jesus: The Guantanamo Years. He returns to Edinburgh this year with Pope Benedict: Bond Villain, an extended riff on why the Protestant countries of northern Europe are bailing out their Catholic neighbours – with Ireland as Exhibit A. 





The opinionated, firebrand comic and self-proclaimed “libertarian anarchist” returns to Edinburgh following his thoroughly entertaining (and often enlightening) audiencecentric show It’s The Stupid Economy. This time, Thomas recounts his time spent rambling in the Middle East along the entire length—and both sides—of the 750km Israeli separation barrier – arrests, stonings, blisters, hummus, the lot.



Seasoned Fringer, Oxford classics graduate and host of the late-night, invited guest Edinburgh show Political Animal, Zaltzman has his own gig this year, Armchair Revolutionary. It’s a perfect forum for him to murmur his approval at the uprising of the oppressed from the comfort of his living room. Self-deprecating, smart and pin-sharp, there’s plenty of well-aimed, waspish wit beneath that mild-mannered, mad professor presentation.



Another vociferous American standup with an itch to scratch, Camp’s 2011 show Yet Another American Mistake sees him take rapid-fire potshots at US right-wing sensibilities, covering all manner of sociopolitical favourites: education, celebrities, capital punishment, consumerism, the media, grammar, war and more. He mightn’t be to everyone’s taste, but for sheer bravery, brio and a passion for tackling proper world issues head-on, few can match him. [Joe Spurgeon]

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 15


? ? ??


quick ? n o i t s e u q ?? BRIDGET CHRISTIE You have unlimited wealth. What do you buy? The internet. All of it. And each morning, I can choose whether to switch it on or not.

JOSEPH BONE Favourite word? My favourite word may well be hummum, which is a place for sweating; a sweating bath. Which is what I do an awful lot of in Bane!.

JACK KLAFF Ever stared death in the face? 1. I had a tumour in my leg 2. I’ve escaped death beside people who didn’t. 3. I cycle every day.

MARCEL LUCONT What makes you angry? Anger is beneath me. Anger is a wasted emotion, expending energy that can be used for far greater things, such as group sex or viniculture.

AVA VIDAL Last lie you told? Of course I don’t regret becoming a comedian and chasing what seems to be an increasingly impossible dream. I wouldn’t change a thing.

NEIL HAMBURGER Nicest thing anyone’s ever said to you? One of the top critics in the world said that my recipe for minty peas was “adequate”.


 Sitting in the verdant grounds of his alma mater Trinity College—once a seat of Protestant power in Ireland—Philbin Bowman sketches out the rationale behind his latest offering: “In Protestant countries, you get into heaven by reading the Bible, following your conscience and asking questions. In Catholic countries, you get into heaven by feeling guilty, following orders, and repeating the magic words. Once, powerful people bullied us in the name of ‘God’. Today, they bully us in the name of ‘The Economy’.” Credit default swaps, sub-prime mortgages, asset-backed securities: hardly the argot of comedy gold. Is it difficult to get a laugh out of a financial crash? “Absolutely. It’s horrible – it’s much easier to do jokes about sex,” laughs Philbin Bowman. “Essentially what happened [in Ireland] is a really boring story. This is a bunch of bald, white, middle-aged bankers making terrible financial decisions. They didn’t even shag their secretaries! So it’s not a natural subject for comedy. But it’s something we urgently need to talk—and joke—about.” Philbin Bowman has strong words too for the IMF, which led last autumn’s bailout of Ireland’s toxic banking system. “The whole Dominique Strauss-Kahn thing tells you so

much about the culture of the IMF,” he says, referring to the now dismissed allegations that its former director sexually assaulted a chambermaid in his $3,000-a-night hotel suite. “If you think about it, he could have stayed in a Holiday Inn, paid for a really expensive call-girl and still saved money. This is the guy who was lecturing us on ‘austerity’, ‘fiscal responsibility’ and ‘painful economic choices’.” The Irish public aren’t the only ones facing up to “austerity” and “painful economic choices” in the wake of the downturn. Like many on the country’s comedy circuit, Colm O’Regan has found it increasingly difficult to sell shows to cash-strapped punters. “Now if people are going to spend money on comedy it’s on the big names that they absolutely trust like Tommy Tiernan and Des Bishop,” says O’Regan, whose second Fringe effort, Dislike: A Facebook Guide to Crisis, has received critical acclaim since debuting in Ireland earlier this year. Speaking from his Dublin home, now worth half of what he paid for it a few years ago, O’Regan complains that the “arse has fallen out” of the corporate market, once a serious money-spinner for Irish comics. But the recession isn’t all doom and gloom. After years of demanding safe, cheap thrills, audiences are becoming increasingly open to topical, edgy gags. “For years all most people wanted to hear were jokes about, ‘isn’t it funny how the light switches off in the fridge when you close the door’,” recalls Colm O’Regan. “Now there’s a lot more interest in topical comedy, not just being ranty for the sake of it but proper, measured political satire. That’s making a big comeback.” Fringe-goers are perfectly placed to profit from Ireland’s boom in recession humour. With so many quality comics in the market, don’t be surprised if there’s a run on sharply observed jokes about macroeconomics, the IMF and idle Irish estate agents, in Edinburgh this August. f

Keith Farnan: Money, Money, Money @ Underbelly

MARGARET CHO Best heckle? “Go back to China! Dig a hole and go back to China!” Genius...

4-28 Aug (not 16), 6:20pm, £9-10.50

Abie Philbin Bowman: Pope Benedict - Bond Villain @ Pleasance Courtyard

3-29 Aug (not 16), 8:45pm, £8.50-9.50

Colm O’Regan: Dislike! A Facebook guide... @ Gilded Balloon 3-29 Aug (not 16), 4:00pm, £8.50-10

16 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 16 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011


a national “M


Steve Ullathorne

The Fringe thrums with international talent. But can culture clash comedy get reductive, or is it all fair game in the name of laughter? Joe Spurgeon tells us the one about the German, the Sri Lankan and the Irish-Iranian...

18 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

y ultimate goal as always is World Humour Domination. I thought last year’s show My Struggle might have got me there but I couldn’t secure so much as a book deal,” says affable, straight-talking standup and self-styled “German Comedy Ambassador” Henning Wehn. “Particularly not a book deal, in fact. But I have learned that success in comedy is, like everything else in life, down to determination and efficiency. That’s why Germans are best suited to do it.” He doesn’t need a second invitation to playfully prod at our notions of Ze Germans. He’s leaned on them for back-to-back Fringe shows now, delivering well-observed bon mots and parodying UK life through the wide eyes of a German expat. He’s lived here for nearly a decade, and his speech is an attractive hybrid of Brit colloquialisms (“all right, mate?”) and loopy German lilts. And his material (“what makes me tick? My stopwatch”), which has gone down like a stein of cold, crisp Bremen beer in his adopted home, is assuredly self-aware. “Generally speaking, Brits receive me very well. And I certainly can’t and won’t deny where I am from. I would describe myself as a social commentator in the style of classical/political cabaret. Most of my jokes are blunt statements which I subvert with a twinkle in my eye. You have to pick people up where they are. In Britain, that’s 1945. Humour is a brilliant way to turn stereotypes on their head.” Or reinforce them? “You can make jokes about anything. Nothing’s off limit as long as it serves a purpose. If it doesn’t it’s just malicious.” Patrick Monahan—a refreshing antidote to the standup’s apparent obligation to be cynical, self-destructive, egotistical and confrontational in the pursuit of laughs—is another to be plucked from a multicultural melting pot. Born in Iran (“right on the IranIraq border where the revolution kicked off!”) to a native mother and an Irish welder father, he eventually wound up in Teesside, where he picked up a throaty northern accent and made his first chit-chatty forays upon the comedy circuit. As a budding young comic, such an exotic heritage was always going to prove a potent weapon: “When I was starting out, it was amazing to have that difference. You weren’t just another northern act: you could be on a bill with 12 comics and no one would be Irish-Iranian. People would be like, ‘Wow, where did that come from?’ and you’d be away. “The only problem is that you can get pigeonholed. So do you want to be a really good standup? Do you want to be Richard Pryor? Or do you want to be a black comic,

an Asian comic, a disabled comic, a foreign comic, whatever. Don’t get me wrong, it is good. This year, for example, I can do 15 or 20 minutes on the Middle Eastern uprisings, because I live with it, my family talk about it. Everyone everywhere knows Ireland, everyone knows Iran.” Does it ever become self-defeating? Is there an industry-generated pressure to play up to audience expectations of a foreign comic? “Oh god, yeah. I don’t think it’s the comic’s fault, though – it’s the way any profit-making industry works. It’s not just about being funny, it’s about ‘how do we sell this next thing? Who’s going to front this?’. That’s great for the comic short-term, but long-term it’s horrific. You can’t rely on your badge, your niche, forever. How can you still be talking about that stuff 20 years down the road? “The best advice I was ever given was: as soon as you get something that works, put it aside; don’t throw it away, just keep it back. When I began, I was talking about general stuff, which was all right—not great, but all right—and then when I started talking about my Irish-Iranian stuff, oh my god! It was a 100% improvement, bang, bang, bang. I could’ve kept going with that stuff, but I wanted to develop beyond a stereotype. I still use it, but use it too much and you’ll put people off.” Monahan’s are sentiments, echoed by Fringe debutante Nimmi Harasgama, whose extraordinary creation Auntie Netta is unleashed, live and (very) loud, upon Edinburgh audiences this year. “A mixed heritage old dingbat from Sri Lanka,” Netta is more rooted in everyone’s batty old auntie than in any Asian typecast, but does satirically skirt some proper issues—repatriation and asylum-seekers, mainly—as she regales her bawdy tales of wrestling with the peculiarities of a life away from home – stiff upper lips, Skype, Hadrian’s Wall and, er, a “Venezuelan bikini wax”. “‘I am fully gassed and excited, child!” squeals Netta. Nimmi, her creator, is somewhat more reflective: “My heritage [Tamil/Sinhalese] has a strong impact on my writing, as does my upbringing. I spent a lot of my childhood growing up in a small village outside Peterborough, living in a cosy thatched cottage literally watching lambs being born from the bathroom window. We were the only Asian family there. My dad was a local at the Royal Oak pub and my mum attended yoga classes at the village hall. Then, at boarding school, I learnt how to speak ‘proper’ and tackle Paki-bashing. “Nationality and culture are delicate issues. We can and should be proud of who we are, but stereotypes can and do lead to divisions. Through comedy some of these is-

festcomedy sues can be broached. When I came back to the UK after 10 years, I noticed how people had become more ‘used’ to people who are not the same as them. I was relieved to feel that actually I could fit into this new Britain. “But the underlying racism has not gone away – it is not as overt, but it is still here. Through comedy, these issues can be addressed, in a comfortable forum, because in Britain, humour, unlike many other countries, allows us to laugh at ourselves and see ourselves in the ‘other’. I have belief in what I am doing, I am not trying to change the world, there is always risk involved, but we must give the audience its dues – they are smart people! As Auntie would say, ‘I am fully sensitive so I don’t want to be hurting people!’” So, national differences are as valid for material as whatever you saw down the pub last night. But lest we get a little po-faced and puritanical here, Monahan will keep us grounded: “It’s comedy! If it’s a lecture, that’s different, but this is comedy. No one’s there to learn. “Comics are good at talking and entertaining; if we had the answers to everything we wouldn’t be stood in a room full of people full up with alcohol, asking them to laugh at us. You have to talk about what you know – if it is your background, if it happened to you, it would be stupid not to talk about it. If people get offended, then they shouldn’t be coming out of the house.” Henning Wehn, as you might expect, is more bullish: “I’m the only one that should be allowed to use my place of birth as springboard for material. All others are simply copycats. No surrender!” f

“You have to pick people up where they are. In Britain, that’s 1945” Patrick Monahan: Hug Me, I Feel Good @ Gilded Balloon

3-28 Aug (not 15, 22), 8:00pm, £10.50-12.50

Henning Wehn: No Surrender! @ Just the Tonic at The Caves 4-28 Aug (not 16, 17), 9:15pm, £6.50-10.50

Auntie Netta and the Trouble with Asian Men (double bill) @ Underbelly 15-28 Aug, 9:45pm, £10-12

Far left Patrick Monahan Right Henning Wehn

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 19





comedy at the heart of the fringe T: 0131 558 7272 Alun Cochrane // Andy Zaltzman Ava Vidal // Bob Doolally Bridget Christie // Bruce Devlin Craig Campbell // Dave Fulton Damien Crow // Francesca Martinez Fred MacAulay // Gavin Webster James Dowdeswell // Joanna Neary Josh Howie // Lee Camp // Lloyd Langford Markus Birdman // Martin Mor Michael Legge // Mick Sergeant Mitch Benn // Omid Djalili // Paul Sinha Political Collective Gone Mad Phil Nichol // Phill Jupitus Raymond Mearns // Richard Herring Ro Campbell // Robin Ince Sally-Anne Hayward // Seymour Mace Simon Donald // Simon Munnery Singing' I'm No a Billy, he's a Tim Stephen Carlin // Steve Day Stewart Lee // Steve Gribbin Susan Murray // The Stand Late Club Tiffany Stevenson // Todd Barry Tony Law // Vladimir McTavish Wendy Wason // Wil Hodgson



h. Si Hawkins pitches re’s more than one route to a laug the , grin a or e mbl gru a with ld ther Whether you greet the wor suit your mood, whatever the wea nding up a selection of comedy to rou s, crab the inst aga nas yan the Poll


t? t to smile abou What’s he go rthern Ireland No d, raised in Born in Englan Australia, back home in but a big noise the same ite ’t acquired qu ery Jimeoin hasn ite Fringing ev sp de , re he er ov r-face Brene nc ou ce -y in es lumin rather than an ith m gs memorable. ga e e he’s a likeabl e always mor ar en th ns t ow Bu . td st el m Augu pe, and Jim Jefferies ty don Burns or when ything mode his show day call-it-an e Tell us about lin e ad em de th in ably hen you’ve no ic was presum ely s are tricky w iv le lat tit re The busy com en ct th pe t ex ith Lovely! bu ight craic”, so ra st e pl as w sim ’ te he came up w da “pure ‘n stiest gag to This show is in’s t to be his na to play with. ion of Steve Irw hat turned ou ict w , ed ct pr fa te In ra s. cu ac ly ki oo sp low-risk joke t but tal – a flippan ay run-in. purely acciden fore the stingr be s ar ye e re death, aired th nshine one word: Su disposition in Describe his

Edward Aczel lem? What’s his prob man ng A portly, baldi id-life crisis m s hi g gin ul ind dience by subjecting au infully pa s hi to members inions on uninformed op ians in aracter comed of the finest ch e ay, an on w r or … he ts Eit . en world ev hole industry bverting the w rous. rtu to ly the country, su te isi zel can be exqu evening with Ac s show n’t Exist, he Tell us about hi ward Aczel Does llingly titled Ed e stops te s th ap all t rh ou pe g e In th velope and pullin ch will probably en e th ing sh will be pu sure”. Whi some telly expo rambling, a “in order to gain ual ill-prepared us e th ing do g about how rin te ut m just involve him d d lots of flustere an iz qu lic bo sham ing. badly it’s all go word: Deflated position in one Describe his dis e Steve Ullathorn

Rich Hall lem? What’s his prob face on has the sort of own, Rich Hall Br ully he kf on rd an Go Th e l. ra Lik tu ks deeply unna loo erent standup ile llig sm a be s ch hi whi t every day wn, which fits fro arm pe e ch th ou , if he spen favours et’s Oscar the Gr rough the re th St e ay w am s es hi ls k S style – thin h, Hall also grow rg bu in Ed in t n no nel shows. wspaper. Whe ly seethes on pa raging at the ne tary and quiet en m cu do l na occasio also dabbling in s show  ndup show he’s Tell us about hi the regular sta enshaw back as Cr ell e w Le is As . Ot 11 as ard of Hall for 20 the Perrier Aw n where “the on ow w e ed A double-dose —h ho t ain gh estern once ag s stage a late-ni an ici us m ycountry and w ed m crack team of co ms.” in 2000—as his r and spent drea uo liq of ek re ill floor w word: Testy position in one Describe his dis

Tiernan Douieb ile about? What’s he got to sm pro’s most frequently mis edy The man with com the ocen tak s ha ) eb” u-y nounced name (it’s “Do just pluck a edgy, but you can’t casional stab at being ms out of thin air. So ble pro l ica g psycholog lifetime of debilitatin e for the moment. abl ng fantastically like he’s sticking with bei he takes w for the Londoner, as Tell us about his sho ue-based than usual iss the way, re ng mo alo bit all a it is ut rld abo Wo ing to get a bit angry Tiernan Douieb vs the ect exp thing at ’s bad He in. no is ’re ich state we m, i.e. quite funny. Wh a good hard look at the le kid having a tantru litt a like be t jus ly but it’ll probab it. en you think about a comedy festival, wh ggable ition in one word: Hu

dispos festival preview guide 2011 ibe his Descr 22 fest edinburgh

Isy Suttie

t? t to smile abou What’s she go n w no l-k el ely w As a moderat Suttie would sitcom actress get her “nice” tag and e th w love to lose tier, but for no ea m ng hi et teeth into som s. She used pe ty y rk do aying but her she’s stuck pl usness, Skins, stion of salacio outrage. ba e at yl st th r efo yl ts on Frankie Bo to write scrip low y irl fa lly nera live show is ge her show ant long-form Tell us about easantly poign ay through pl e. Pearl and w r lov he of s m ct ru bje Suttie st lated to the su re ”, so don’t exlly ce ua an us m s, ro musical play le of internet ta r te -ebullient ac ce ar on ch e tiThen again, th Dave is a “mul . es rib at di er y ev y five y angr d about stuff pect too man s to get annoye go postal at some point. em se d oo W Victoria ie may yet e days, so Sutt minutes thes insome one word: W disposition in r he e rib sc De

e Meryl O’Rourk lem? What’s her prob t”, likes of the “slut close t ou e m co She’s ts se r he bomb into to throw the Cildbirth and ch th bo es ak early on and m ething sound like som breastfeeding fun for the is y all re e m that O’Rourk fro t ar person”, ap re ut cu . B se from Saw IV d “lonely and in A self-confesse t of a roomful ou rce fo n ca I whole family.  se ”. That’s otional respon more important she says “any em es me feel a bit ak m t rs. jus ge rs an ge str of stran omfuls of e tells those ro actually a line sh

festcomedy Norman Lovett What’s his problem? Although his face was built for hangdog comedy, oddly enough Lovett’s less-than-zact ny voice was once deemed perfe aign. Lord camp ad s Puff r Suga thy for a leng king at that only knows what they were smo the computer from the early days meeting. Still best known as Holly equivalent of going round to dup stan the of Red Dwarf, he offers e. hous your slightly doddery old uncle’s Tell us about his show aring at the free festival this The good news is that Lovett is appe Fringe generally: “It reminds the t year. Less good is his mood abou here in 1983 and was putshow a do to up came first I n whe me of iew blurb. “Now the posters prev his in lls reca he ers,” ting up A4 post Blimey, cheer up Norm! ey.” mon the t abou are life-size and it’s all : Droopy Describe his disposition in one word III Alex Tsander

John Robins ut? What’s he got to smile abo chap ng you s clas dleA nice mid pes. One getting into occasional scra unts of his more famous bits reco ur’s noisy hbo neig a up k brea to ng tryi tle of bot a g win thro by ty par house (“I don’t usually flip, I’m en gard ng wro the white zinfandel into entirely voice went all Michael his t tha ry ing so ang more of a flopper”) then gett McIntyre. Scary stuff. Tell us about his show ennas to Heaven is your Skinny Fists like Ant The spiritual-sounding Lift bters alike.” So if dou and rs ame dre h bot for “a show about stars, suitable on the position ns isio dec life ole base your wh you’re into astrology and tle fun rather gen e pok just ry. He’ll probably er would of celestial bodies, don’t wor latt the gh ole belief system (althou than tear down your wh ). term long the ial in probably be more benefic one word: Garrulous Describe his disposition in

e ups and downs of Happy now? Follow th the Fringe at festmag r show ’t, Tell us about he it! OK, no she isn um and loving m w ne a is didn’t turn l it at Mery th ul kf an nerally th rke’s though she is ge ocking is O’Rou So gleefully sh quesin by ba e out to be a boy. th pe ial that you ho ow. Otherwise maternal mater t to see this sh ge er ev n’t es in 20 years’ tion do ge pa is th o. rn up on at strangers to g she may well tu rin ea secure and sw time, lonely, in word: Acrid position in one Describe her dis

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 23


Happy returns Last year’s best newcomer has found herself propelled into the spotlight. But, as Roisin Conarty tells Si Hawkins, the rise to success has had its turbulent moments


f Roisin Conaty ever doubts that comedy is her true vocation, one recent event would be well worth remembering. Not her Best Newcomer award at last year’s Fringe, which was clearly a major career boost, but a more dramatic stand-off in a Parisian park a few weeks back. Conaty was part of a hen party buying fags near the Moulin Rouge when a group of local youths became a bit overfamiliar. “One guy kind of cornered me, quite young. He was speaking French and laughing, and I’m saying ‘I don’t know what you’re saying! You’re scaring me!’ And he started cracking up and saying ‘You’re scarring me! You’re scarring me!’ So we got away alive. He might have been after my wallet, but he ended up just laughing at me instead.” Exactly what tickles us remains a

curiosity for Conaty. The Camden-born comic spent several years searching for that elusive “voice” before her debut hour-long show Hero, Warrior, Fireman, Liar won the aforementioned award “despite no buzz at all”. Such life-changing events are now the subject of her follow-up show, Destiny’s Dickhead, which considers “how much fate has a say and whether it’s possible to shape your life exactly how you want it.” She hasn’t shaped how to explain the show properly yet, mind you, and she stumbles on for a good minute before conceding that “it’s boring stuff like that really, but with jokes.” You can’t help but warm to Conaty’s honesty, onstage and off. Last year’s show was a feast of gleeful self-deprecation about her lack of life success, and while things have

24 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

gone rather better since then, there have been a few more knocks along the way. Several months of gigging in Australia was enjoyable, even if it proved slightly sobering on the material front. Her memorable routine about turning creepy around potential new partners “didn’t work as well” in the Outback, and generally she “found it quite tough at times”. “They couldn’t understand me sometimes which was hilarious, considering that when I went to the States they thought I was Australian.” Conaty had a more rewarding reaction to her most high-profile TV gig so far, the nice long standup showcase on BBC3 favourite Russell Howard’s Good News. “I got hundreds of emails after that, young kids, 12-year-old girls saying that they didn’t know that girls were allowed to do standup.” Conaty hadn’t considered a standup career either, until one fateful afternoon in a North London pizza restaurant in the mid-noughties, when a good long moan about her life led her lunch companion to suggest comedy. “It felt a bit like someone saying ‘you should be a pop star’ – well that’s just ridiculous. But there was Downstairs at the King’s Head across the road and she put my name down. Then I got a call four months later— ‘just confirming your gig on Thursday’—and I went on and did five minutes of rambling.” That went well, but “like a lot of comics, [I found] the second gig kicks you in the face. After the first gig you come off thinking ‘Well, I imagine I’ll be doing the Store next week!’ But it’s so addictive, that feeling of being able to say what you think – even after the worst gig, when you think ‘I hate comedy, I’m never doing it again, I’m going to go and get a farm’.” Things improved after more friendly interventions knocked her current style into shape. “My sister used to not be able to watch me. She’d say, ‘because you have your “And now I’m onstage!” voice.’ And all my friends were frustrated with me - ‘it’s funnier the way you say it.’ For me it’s also pronunciation; if I try to watch my Ps and Qs it affects my timing. So speak the way you speak, and say it the way it comes in your head, because that’s what made people think you could be a comic in the first place.” Conaty is happily ignoring advice about one aspect of her work though: the presence of an erratic poet character called Jackie Hump, who opened last year’s show. “I know she got mixed reviews,” she says, “but I enjoy performing her. The people who love her really love her and the people who don’t, don’t. But you can’t write a show for reviewers.” f

Roisin Conarty: Destiny’s Dickhead @ Pleasance Courtyard 3-28 Aug (not 15), 5:45pm, £8.50-9.50



P O P For the past two years, Frisky & Mannish have been the Smash Hits of the Fringe. Matt Trueman joined the perky professors of pop for a spot of karaoke

Photos: Idil Sukan/DrawHQ


n a karaoke booth in Mayfair, Frisky and Mannish can barely breathe for laughing. The list of songs currently unavailable is peppered with spelling mistakes and includes anything by the Pussycat Dools, Eric Clapton’s ‘Tears in Vaven’ and Michael Jackson’s famous sea-shanty, ‘Bilge Gen’. Fittingly enough, the booth itself is designed like a padded cell. After all, the cabaret duo—real names Laura Corcoran and Matthew Jones—inject a certain lunacy into chart hits. They’re the mad scientists of pop, mixing unlikely solutions from incompatible artists and distilling entire genres into their separate elements. Without their research, we might never have known that Kates Nash and Bush attract one another or that Whigfield’s ‘Saturday Night’ can be boiled down to a torch song. “It’s just taking something familiar and presenting it in an unfamiliar way,” says Corcoran, quick to point out that the technique is nothing new: “Rob Deering and Bill Bailey have been using pop songs for donkey’s years. Rewriting the lyrics of popular songs was a massive part of Victorian music hall.” Nor are they the only pop parodists working the comedy-cabaret circuit today. What sets Frisky and Mannish apart, however, is the range of their references. Not content with inserting a few knob gags into ‘Single Ladies’, they manage to be both complex and comprehensive. It’s all about avoiding the obvious, says Jones: “Everyone I

know knows that [Alanis Morrisette’s] ‘Ironic’ is not ironic. Everyone in the world knows that. Why say it again?” It helps that together the 26-year-olds have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the subject, as quickly becomes apparent once the karaoke begins. Everything from Miley Cyrus to ‘Meat Pie, Sausage Roll’, the 1998 World Cup song, gets a near-perfect rendition. Jones identifies The Corrs from a single chord, not without a flush of pride. Admitting defeat, I hand over the song list, which they devour like hyenas might a dead gazelle. Suddenly, they’re in full swing, harmonising their way through Crowded House’s ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ as if it were the most meaningful song in the world. Then there are the off-the-cuff impersonations: Jones reduces Prince to nonsensical, highpitched half-syllables; Corcoran turns Kelis into Miss Piggy, as ‘Caught Out There’ becomes a squawking hissy-fit. From their enthusiasm, it’s clear that their act is born of fondness, not spite. Nonetheless, they’re frequently labelled bitchy or vicious, something neither can fully understand. “People kept calling the Florence and the Machine thing cruel,” says Jones of a routine that reveals the singer’s roots in 90s hits by the likes of Peter Andre and

26 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

The Tamperer, “but we’ve both got Lungs. It’s a really amazing album and she’s a phenomenal songwriter with an incredible voice. If anything, we’re fans.” The problem of labels, particularly in reviews, recurs throughout our conversation as if they’re wary of misrepresentation. It doesn’t help that certain major critics have repeatedly qualified their praise, seemingly unwilling to allow such an unashamedly populist act any highbrow credibility. Though they joke about it, you can tell it smarts a touch. After all, Corcoran and Jones are Oxford graduates. They’ve paired Nelly Furtado with Franz Liszt and made a choral fugue of George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper’. “We’re taking our intellectual training and applying it to pop songs. Sometimes we get too intellectual and find that no-one really cares,” says Corcoran. Now that’s ironic, given that their shows use education as a

festcomedy framework. Their third Edinburgh outing, Pop people say they don’t like pop music, I think, Centre Plus, picks up where their last left off. ‘What do you think pop music is?’ That means “In the current economic climate, that’s the you don’t like music that a lot of other people route, isn’t it? School. University. Job centre,” like. It seems misanthropic and elitist and she explains. “In essence, it’s just more of the dismissive.” same.” “If we choose a song,” he goes on, “we It was around that point in their own lives believe that almost 100 per cent of our that they started collaborating. Waiting for audience will know it, so in that respect, it’s a respective acting careers to take off, Corcoran compliment.” and Jones would tinkle away empty afterIn this love-hate relationship lies the noons. One day they refashioned ‘Papa Don’t paradox of Frisky and Mannish. They look Preach’ as an aria and Frisky and Mannish down on the very thing they worship. They were born. do so not to show it up or undermine, but as a In the four years since, their stage perpassing note on its inherent absurdity. sonas have become bolder and bolder. Their But when Lady Gaga pops out of an egg original aesthetic of buttoned-up Victoriana or Katy Perry launches feelgood fireworks has long since given way to PVC, glitter and from her chest, doesn’t pop make itself cleavage. somehow spoof-proof? And if Ellie Goulding What began as an assortment of quirks can cover Elton John, or Alexandra Burke Jeff has grown into a concerted campaign. For Buckley, isn’t pop plundering its own past all all they profess to offer it affection, Frisky by itself? and Mannish approach pop critically. Slot “That’s the thing,” says Corcoran, animonosyllabic nursery rhymes into a Girls mated with fascination. “Pop is inherently Aloud song, slow Chesney Hawkes into tongue-in-cheek. There are times when heartfelt depression and, like it or not, you’re it’s just so ridiculous that it doesn’t need on the attack. En route, they correct its gramanything doing to it. There’s nothing more to mar, chastise its indulgences and skewer its be said.” f inanity. Yet Jones is adamant that the act is Frisky and Mannish: Pop Centre Plus @ Udderbelly politics-free. A Frisky and Mannish show 3-28 Aug (not 8, 15, 22), 9:30pm, £12-14 Rich Fest“When Preview copy.pdf 1 01/07/2011 12:28 is, first and foremost, a celebration:

“Rich Fulcher is a natually funny man, if you like your funny utterly bonkers” The Scotsman









Aug 3 -­ 28 (not 15) Billiard Room 8:30pm Tickets: 0131 622 6552

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 27


King in waiting

Steve Ullathorne

Though hardly a comedian in the wilderness, Andrew Maxwell perhaps hasn’t had the success of some of his standup contemporaries. But, as he tells Jay Richardson, he’s not done yet


xams for clowns” is how Andrew Maxwell once memorably summarised Edinburgh, a maxim that’s become one of the most oft-repeated mantras on the Fringe. “Part of Edinburgh’s fear and attraction is that you will be reviewed,” the Londonbased Dubliner elaborates. “And in a world of blogs, Twitter and Facebook, that’s constant now. It keeps your sword sharp.” No-one in their right mind ignores a swordwielding clown. Especially one who’s won a nomination for best show and not so long ago was standing among the first rank of standups. Yet Maxwell only performed five dates at Edinburgh last year. And he has said of his underwhelming 2009 show The Lamp, that “a turd rolled in glitter is still a turd”. His fondness for drink has sometimes scuppered gigs and less gifted comics’ careers have started to outstrip his. He maintains “life is a one horse race, I never look on others’ careers with envy,”

but nevertheless it’s an unmistakeable declaration of purpose when he vows: “I mean this year to be big and I intend to play out of my skin every night. My stage morale is high, I’ve turned a lot of corners in my life and I need the break – I’m ready for it and want it.” Altitude, the alpine comedy festival he created with Marcus Brigstocke, has “bedded in” at Mayrhofen in Austria after its move from Meribel in France. And his commitment to gigging in cash-strapped Ireland has been pegged back by the recession. “The last five years I’ve spent at least one day a week on a plane to or from Ireland, and that’s physically just very distracting, living in a different country to where you’re successful,” he sighs. So he’s more focused than ever upon the UK and US, where he’s been making a BBC3 documentary on conspiracy theorists at New York’s Ground Zero and elsewhere in the States. “[The BBC] knew I’m intensely interested in politics and history”

28 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

is all he’ll say of the commission. At home, a team captain role as “David Walliams’ new bitch” on Sky 1’s Wall of Fame has elevated his profile to its most visible since his Channel 4 King of Comedy crowning in 2006. And his debut on Radio 4’s The News Quiz reiterated that the intelligent and informed current affairs junkie is rather more than just a rabblerousing nightcrawler hosting Fullmooners’ late-night orgy of comedy, music and breakdancing. “There’s absolutely no virtue in hiding your light under a bushel,” he points out. A few American yarns notwithstanding, this year, he’ll be forsaking anecdotes to focus on the big issues of these troubled times. Railing against right and left, he’ll be probing “those yawning gaps between reality and the popular discourse – because ultimately the comedian has to be the little boy in the parade that points out the emperor is naked.” “The Irish economy, the rise of Scottish nationalism, the royal wedding, Obama, the Arab Spring – it’s all these themes, both in themselves and how they intersect with my life.” Furiously, incredulously, he denounces the posturing of Tony Blair, a decadent Western media and the trivialisation of human rights. “I heard this woman on Radio 4 the other day talking about the democratisation of chocolate. I mean, fucking hell! In the rest of the world, people are fighting and dying for freedom of speech and our cuts are upholding rich footballer fuckers keeping it secret that they’ve been fucking their younger brother’s wife for eight years!” Catching himself mid-diatribe, he chuckles when he confesses that “I still want revolution, but I’m a suburban father of two. I’m very conflicted.  “When I heard the news of riots in London’s West End and that a group of protestors had attacked The Ritz, I genuinely sat and thought, ‘I would love to attack The Ritz. Or stay in The Ritz.’ It’s a dilemma.” Hosting a one-off Fullmooners at Assembly George Square on August 14, he’ll also be joining Brendon Burns the following night to commentate on the comedy wrestling match programmed by Max and Ivan for the Pleasance Courtyard – appearing as his masked alter-ego El Who? “In the province of Mexico where El Who? is from, he is a giant!” he boasts. “In the land of the midget wrestler, the scrawny, five-feet-six man is always king!” f Andrew Maxwell: The Lights Are On @ Assembly George Square 3-29 Aug (not 16), 9:00pm, £13-15

Eastgate Fest Preview.pdf






. .. y b d e d n e m m o c e r as JIMEOIN








“F*#%ing beautiful, man!” Academy Award Winner Robin Williams

Aug 3 - 28 (not 15) Gilded Balloon Balcony 23:15pm Tickets: 0131 622 6552

30 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

Steve Ullathorne


“Kai Humphries, Mark Nelson, Dave Eastgate and Nick Coppin, who is part of the free comedy shows. These are comics I’ve seen and enjoyed in the past. But in general when it comes to standups I like new comics more than established ones, who tend to be a bit cocky for my liking. Also you can steal material off new comics and no-one is going to expect that you stole it from them. People are going to think they stole it from you. Oh yeah, and Fred Macauley. I hear he is up and coming.”

CHRISTOPHER DOUGLAS “Ford and Akram are hilarious. Better still, they aren’t ugly uni-boys desperate to tell us how weird it is in a supermarket. Maybe they’ve got fuzzy little beards though - not sure. Wine School at the Fringe and any other shows giving away free alcohol or stationery.”



Looking to add a little magic to your Edinburgh experience? You’re spoilt for choice this year, and as David Hepburn finds out, there’s not a rabbit or scantily clad assistant in sight


his year’s Fringe features a veritable magic circle of cutting-edge conjurers, arch psychics, sly illusionists and card manipulators, as well as the granddaddy of British tricksters Paul Daniels. Gone are the days of tight-fitting trousers, bad music and mullets; this generation of magicians are splicing together the amazing and befuddling with the macabre and comedic in a constant quest to bring something unique to audiences. It’s a trend which has grabbed the attention of the all-powerful television commissioners. While standups have cashed in thanks to Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and Live at the Apollo, magicians too have seen their stock rise on prime-time TV with The Magicians on BBC1 and Penn & Teller: Fool Us on ITV1. Scotland’s own Barry and Stuart are regular fixtures on the BBC show and are typical of the new breed in that, following a childhood of magic sets and card tricks, they quickly took their chosen art form in new directions. “We both started with the usual thing of pissing off our friends with the usual tricks, but it wasn’t until we were 19 and started working together that we decided to throw away all that crap and started recording our own short films incorporating magic,” explains Barry Jones. “We felt like the tricks weren’t that important,” adds Stuart MacLeod. “The magic was there to move the plot forward and we were interested in getting the whole range of emotions, including humour, out of it. “We started out from the point that we hated these ego-filled magician characters who were powerful and could do no wrong. We wondered what would happen if we took that power away and made any ability a bad thing. I suppose it is just typical British selfdeprecating humour.”

Since then it’s been a dizzying trip to the top for the award-winning duo, who bring two shows to the Fringe–The Show (where they do the tricks) and The Tell (where they explain their methods). They say it follows a tradition that goes back to Magic Circle founder David Devant revealing the secrets of fraudulent spiritualists in the 19th century. The common thread with much of the current wave of British magic is the refusal to take itself too seriously, bucking against the old stereotype of the infallible po-faced illusionist. Today, many seem as proud of their jokes as their tricks. Fringe favourite Pete Firman, who started playing comedy clubs as a way of getting regular gigs, explains: “Comedy and magic are great bedfellows. The UK has a great tradition of humorous magicians – we don’t do the super-serious magic fellas. “The comedy can strengthen the magic and also, depending on your style, makes you more ‘real’. Preparing is exactly the same as a comic. The big difference is the props. I might have something remade three or four times during a period of refinement, but with a joke you just take out a word or add a word.” Ali Cook, Firman’s co-star on Channel 5’s ground-breaking Monkey Magic, echoes this idea that the mechanics of comedy and magic share common ground. 

From the top Pete Firman Paul Daniels Ian D Montford Piff The Magic Dragon Overleaf Barry & Stuart

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 31






With a string of international awards (including Best Comedy at both the Melbourne and Auckland Fringes) and a warm trail of praise in its wake, Greek-Australian Vachel Spirason interweaves dance, music and clowning in his tale of Angus: an “odd boy with a murmuring heart” who, amongst other things “loses his virginity to a chocolate cake”. A splendid slice of the surreal, buoyed by a virtuoso central performance and a core of tender beauty.



The madcap Japanese clowns unleash their lurid non-verbal performance upon an unsuspecting Edinburgh promising an audience-involving show that’s “wildly entertaining, inventive and dangerous.” Beyond that, the exact content of The Body Tights Man Show is left to the whim of spontaneity; suffice to say there’ll be bizarre games, human sculpture, video projection, wigs and unbridled Asian lunacy. All aboard.



Standup comedy and experimental modern dance? That’s the particular preserve of NAC’s Pete Shenton and Tom Roden; but far more than two unshapely blokes squeezing into leotards looking for cheap laughs, the pair call upon over a decade’s worth of experience at the sharp end of modern dance, reprising their favourite routines interspersed with an intuitive feel for banter, daftness, clowning and costume. [Joe Spurgeon]

32 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 32 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

festcomedy  The former British close-up magic champion says: “Both are all about expectation and surprise. Most of the time in magic there is the set-up, ‘there is nothing in my hand’, then the punchline, ‘there is something in my hand’.” One performer who has taken irreverence to new heights is John van der Put. He’s better known as Piff the Magic Dragon and was one of the unexpected hits of last year’s Fringe. Dressed as a cuddly-looking mythological beastie he appears the very definition of a low-status comedy character – a role he relishes. “It’s really difficult to set yourself up on stage as having magic powers without coming across as a complete arsehole,” he says. “If I find I could really do these things I would not be choosing to find the four of diamonds. I woud be on an island surrounded by princesses. “Life as a magician is ridiculous, so what better way to prove it than a costume that looks as ridiculous as I feel? Conversely, I’ve found the suit gives me much more room on stage to be smug, arrogant, flirty, nerdy and generally self-absorbed, and somehow get away with it. Who would have thought?” While it’s long been the done thing for magicians to encroach on the comedy circuit, at least one comic is taking the reverse journey. Tom Binns, previously known for his hospital DJ character Ivan Brackenbury, garnered a stack of four and five star reviews with his Sunderland psychic Ian D Montfort last year. To prepare he learned the tricks of the trade in just eight months from “thought-magician” Philip Escoffey, himself a performer in Edinburgh this year. While most magicians say they start with the tricks and then add the comedy, Binns says the jokes come first every time. “This year I hope the magic is less apparent,” he says. “The best analogy is when Hollywood gets a big new special effect, like morphing. It’s everywhere and obvious, then people get used to it and they start using the effect in a more subtle and effective way.” And he has a warning to all those who miss out on the big bucks offered by television. “When I started doing standup it was about people coming out to see something they couldn’t see on television, now they come out to see something because they’ve already seen it on the television. There seems to be more magic on television now so it could well have a similar effect.” Someone not so concerned about the wellbeing of magic is Paul Daniels who, despite his many naysayers, can rightly lay claim to the title of most successful television magician of all time.

Barry & Stuart This year sees him return to the Fringe for the first time since his debut in 2003 with a set that promises the same comedic flourishes that were evident in his hugely popular BBC show which, lest we forget, ran for an astonishing 16 years between 1979 and 1994. He baulks at the suggestion that magic has ever been anything other than popular with the public, blaming “the very few people who decide what you are going to watch on TV” for any perception of it going out of fashion. He adds: “I have never worried about the future of the oldest theatrical art form. If I vanished a pebble 5,000 years ago and did it well, it would have got the same reaction that it would get on a beach in the year 3000AD.” f

Paul Daniels: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow. @ Assembly George Square 3-18 Aug, 5:00pm, £14-15

Pete Firman: Jiggery Pokery @ Pleasance Courtyard 3-28 Aug, 8:30pm, £12-14

Piff the Magic Dragon: Last of the Magic Dragons @ Just The Tonic at The Store

4-28 Aug (not 16), 6:40pm, £9-10

Ian D Montfort - Spirit Comedium @ Pleasance Courtyard 3-28 Aug, 6:15pm, £10-11


Breaking the ice She may claim to be bad at small talk but, as Catherine Sylvain finds out, there’s a great deal of substance to Australian comic-cum-art lecturer Hannah Gadsby


ast year Hannah Gadsby’s Fringe set found fodder in a coast-to-coast walk of England. Self-professedly clumsy and accident-prone, the Tasmanian standup doesn’t shy away from stepping out of her comfort zone, and this year she’s plunging into the more psychologically punishing field of polite social exchanges.  Mrs Chuckles is a show in part devoted to her failure at chit-chat. This doesn’t bode well for an interview, but I’m working off a script. We’re going to get through this.  “I struggle with small talk,” Gadsby tells me over Skype from Adelaide. “The show’s about trying to overcome it. Not just the actual conversations; the worst thing about my small talk is that I don’t know how to leave the situation.” I picture us locked in an infinite Skype chat, Gadsby’s likable earnest face forever peeking over the rim of my browser. So she just keeps talking? “No. I just walk away without saying anything. It’s really rude and I’ve been called out so many times about it.” I tender some hackneyed British tips of talking about the weather. Incidentally, Hannah, how’s the weather? “Cold. Coming into winter.” This pause might be where Gadsby would skedaddle.   But she turns out to be an affable and expansive interviewee, considerably smilier than the deadpan, cynical standup persona who’ll describe her own pubic triangle with all the enthusiasm of a maths teacher calling the roll. On the comedy circuit some five years, she ladles out physical embarrassments alongside slices of small-town life, and earlier this year took the enviable position of Adam Hills’s sidekick on his new Aussie chat show Gordon St Tonight. Isn’t it ironic that someone so bad at small talk now works on a chat show? “No, I’m just a smart-arse in the corner on that one. Adam’s lovely and warm and generous and I sort of sit as a counter-balance to that.” Smart indeed – when not curating her own gallery of humiliations with standup, her second show at this year’s Fringe will see Gadsby lecture on depictions of the Virgin Mary in classical Western art. “I studied art history at university. I

wanted to be a curator, and I discovered during my degree that I wasn’t going to be. I couldn’t take it seriously enough, and you’ve got to be very serious to work in a gallery. You’ve got to be able to wear scarves. I can’t wear scarves.” Gadsby’s found a way round this scarf conundrum with her own take on art that is part-comic, partfactual – dare we say infotainment? “There’s a trap that you could undermine the information with the cheap gag—sometimes I do—but it’s more trying to add to the experience as opposed to sabotaging the information.”   The ubiquitous Virgin Mary allows Gadsby to take a lively overview of Western painting. “You can see it develop nicely through her; she starts off as a mosaic and ends up as a bit of a whorish-looking thing with some of the Caravaggio paintings. She stands at a very problematic point for women, being pretty much the only visible woman in Christianity. And she doesn’t have a lot of fun.” Gadsby, however, is having a lot of fun. At the Melbourne Comedy Festival she gave similar lectures at the National Gallery of Victoria, charging Australian art history with her own brand of jaunty irreverence. “I think art does get taken too seriously. Art galleries are such solemn places. People are intimidated. People who talk about art like to maintain that level of superiority. They like to think that art’s a special knowledge and it should be inaccessible,” she tells me offhandedly.

34 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

“Basically there’s a lot of wankers who talk about art. I like the fact that you can actually go to a gallery, see a piece of work, not understand it, but still have a valid response to it. People should trust their instincts with art. I think humour’s a great way for cutting down the wank around it.” A wanker-free lecture on the Virgin Mary? It might just be what the Fringe has been missing. f

Mary. Contrary. @ Gilded Balloon 17-19 and 24-26 Aug, 4:45pm, £12

Mrs Chuckles @ Gilded Balloon 3-29 Aug (not 15), 2:00pm, £11



Imran Yusuf

36 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

No such thing as a free lunch? Think again: Lyle Brennan launches Fest’s coverage of the free fringes by meeting the people behind two very different festivals with similarly laudable aims


or the past five years, a quiet sort of turf war has been simmering in Edinburgh. On the one side we have PBH’s Free Fringe, celebrated alternative to the commercial mainstream since 1996 and innovator of a radical economic model for performers, venues and audiences alike. On the other we have its challenger, the Laughing Horse Free Festival which, in 2006, emerged as a splinter group after two years of collaboration with the Free Fringe, and quickly went on to outgrow its more established rival. The two factions remain obstinately separate even though, to the casual observer, they have virtually the same MO and a common goal at heart – free gigs for the crowds, free venues for the performers and a fair deal all round. Whatever differences exist beyond that, their struggle for supremacy has seen the free scene explode of late, creeping into the cracks and corners of anywhere with a bar, a mic and a few boards to tread. What began 15 years ago with a single show below the Canon’s Gait pub has now grown to monstrous proportions, and together the two comedy-led festivals comprise more than 11,000 performances of more than 650 shows across 45 venues. At this rate, it may not be too long before the free movement engulfs the Fringe. “I can see the majority of the Fringe running under our principles at some date in the future,” says Free Fringe founder Peter Buckley Hill. “I don’t know what that date is – I am not Nostradamus. But it’s very much catastrophe theory, flipping from one stable state into another. And we will flip into the stable state whereby free shows will be the norm and paid-for shows the exception.” Such a bold prediction is perhaps typical of the 63-year-old comic, an unapologetic idealist whose commitment to the free cause was commended in the form of the Edinburgh Comedy Awards 2009 panel prize. “Of course famous people will still have the option of charging because the market will bear that charge,” he explains. “People who have worked hard to get to the top of the tree are entitled to reap the rewards of that. If the public are willing to pay £35 a ticket to see Ricky Gervais at the castle, no problem.” His Laughing Horse counterpart Alex Petty is slightly more reserved, content with his camp’s rapid year-on-year growth. “We’re a couple of thousand performances up on last year, so we’ve made another big leap forward. I don’t see it letting up,” he says.

festfree Both festivals are moving in the same direction, albeit by slightly different routes: Petty adopts a slightly more pragmatic, hierarchised approach compared to the Free Fringe’s performer-driven kibbutz mentality. “Peter’s method was very much a slightly anarchic way of whoever could do it all mucked in, everyone worked together and something happened as an end result,” says Petty, remembering their attempt to run a venue together. “It wasn’t going to be a marriage made in heaven.” Even so, he contends that “it’s two different ways of achieving the same thing”. Buckley Hill, shall we say, speaks of the split with a little more acrimony. But from where the public stands these festivals are in the same boat. Most do not care whether the Free Fringe allocates the same column inches to every act in its programme or whether the Laughing Horse charges performers £40 to guarantee equipment and publicity. Petty and Buckley Hill’s main concern, then, must be to combat the idea that free means worthless. Blame consumerism for teaching us to equate cost with quality, but only the strength of a show can prove this deeply ingrained belief wrong. Unsurprisingly, each organiser insists his lineup is the product of rigorous vetting. “If I should happen by ill chance to book a show that doesn’t make the standard, it reflects badly on all our other shows,” says Buckley Hill. “Therefore I don’t.” It seems to be paying off. The festivals have grown not only in size but also in status and now the acts that make the cut stand a better chance than ever of getting noticed. Still, with the sheer volume of competition, Buckley Hill wouldn’t count on it. He says: “The Fringe is financed on dreams. People think they will go there and become famous, and they won’t. It’s as simple and as brutal as that.” Try telling that to Imran Yusuf. The 31-year-old standup was rightly declared the breakthrough hit of last year’s free festivals—perhaps even the Fringe as a whole—after his became the first ever free show to score a best newcomer nomination. I speak to him the day before he flies out to play the new Mumbai Comedy Store, a gig he wouldn’t have dreamed of last summer. It’s been a hell of a year and these days he mythologises his own rise to stardom: “I was the unknown guy who came in on the Free Festival, tried to sneak in under the radar just to learn his craft and then walked away with a nomination and all these fantastic reviews.” Yusuf calls his backstory the perfect

example of “failing forward” – an ideal autobiography title were it not already borrowed from a bestselling self-help book. He came to the Free Festival desiring nothing more than a training ground but, having underestimated just how far a room under a bridge and a little hype could go, he found himself thrust into the spotlight with a whole new hour to write. “One day people were coming into my show and I could still pack out the room,” remembers Yusuf. “But the next day I remember walking towards my venue to perform my show and I could see a queue coming out of the building, and I’m like ‘I wonder what the hell’s going on in there’.” Of course, you could say his fate had been decided even before he stepped off the train at Waverley. A successful audition for Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, held shortly before his festival run, guaranteed he would not stay under the radar for long. Once news of his imminent TV break got out, word spread quickly among comedy fans, industry types, critics and the judges on the Foster’s panel. Though his success was swift and perhaps inevitable, August was no easy ride for Yusuf. The Muslim comic with the Protestant work ethic says he played an incredible 101 shows in 25 days during last year’s festival. “I totally believe in that adage of ‘build it and they will come’,” he says. “It’s all about if you’ve got a dream and you work hard enough, anything’s possible.” This year Yusuf plays in the majorleague Pleasance Courtyard, but intends on “keeping it real” with some Free Festival guest spots. He is understandably a little high on his own success and so his glasses are perhaps of a rosier tint than others’. Several careers have been launched from free shows. Countless more have sunk without a trace. But Yusuf has faith that the platform offered by the free festivals can lead to great things and feels his triumph could have paved the way for this. “I sincerely hope that somebody from the Free Festival does it again this year,” he says. “It’ll go to prove that making it as a comedian isn’t necessarily down to who you know and how much money you’ve got.” The chances of a repeat may be slim, but if ever there was a time to see the next big thing while paying next to nothing, it is now. f

Laughing Horse Free Festival

PBH Free Fringe



Free Rides



This underrated Scottish standup has found a novel approach to the tired old “Are women funny?” debate: take it out of the equation by performing as a man and see if it makes any difference. Best known for her off-the-cuff comedic acrobatics, she’s back with a daring and original experiment... oh! Hold on. It’s an anagram!


London poetry collective Aisle16 have been gracing the Fringe for the best part of a decade, shooting for various shades of funny and brainy each time. This one’s perhaps not comedy as you know it, but these three standup poets promise a satisfyingly daft hour on the slippery concept of being cool.



With this year’s collection of new material and tried-andtested routines, Doody opts not to shoehorn in some tenuous theme. It may not sound particularly ambitious, but he makes up for it in sheer quality. His pin-sharp, Hicksian political tendencies and lurid turn of phrase make him one of the best in Edinburgh – for any price tag. [Lyle Brennan]

edinburgh festival festival preview preview guide guide 2011 2011 fest fest 37 37 edinburgh


Highlights From solo adventures to star-studded musicals and thrilling new theatre, as ever, you’re spoilt for choice at this year’s Fringe. Here’s a few to get you started...

Take a chance ONE-ON-ONE RARITY

You Once Said Yes




ST GEORGE’S WEST 5-28 AUG (NOT 10,17,24), 10.55PM, £8-£12

Take a leaf out of Danny Wallace’s book - keep saying yes during this journey through Edinburgh and the one-on-one performance will just keep going.

The boundary-pushing Ontroerend Goed (Internal, Teenage Riot) shine the stage lights on the audience in what could be another love-it-orloathe-it Fringe show.


Dance Marathon

TRAVERSE @ LYCEUM REHEARSAL ROOM 3-14 AUG (NOT 4, 8, 11), 7.15PM, £6-£19


Sex, Lies & Eurovision SPOTLITES @ THE MERCHANTS’ HALL 6-13 AUG, 7.10PM, £10

From the producers of last year’s Trainspotting, this Scotland-set play promises to be slick, bawdy fun.


The One Man Show

This four-hour endurance test, based on North American Depression-era dance contests, will almost certainly leave you with sore feet but hopefully some great theatre memories as well. Zach Moore

C, 3-29 AUG (NOT 15), MIDNIGHT, £8.50-£9.50

Two founders of London’s infamous Shunt lounge pitch up in Edinburgh with a show that’s likely to be as thrilling as it is bewildering.


Broken Wing

VENUE 13 5-20 AUG (NOT 8, 15, 16), 11.30AM, £5-£8

Recent CalArts graduate Leila Ghaznavi follows up last year’s Fringe First-nominated Silken Veils with this new play about misunderstandings in the Middle East.


The Oh Fuck Moment

ST GEORGE’S WEST, 5-27 AUG (NOT 10,17,24), TIMES VARY, £8-£10

Can poet Hannah Jane Walker and Fringe First-winner Chris Thorpe get people to open up and talk about their own personal fuck-ups? Take a chance and spill the beans.

38 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

festtheatre Nicholas Coup


The Safe bets

The Boy James C SOCO 4-29 AUG, 10.50PM, £8.50-£12.50

Fringe favourites Belt Up return to Edinburgh with their improved 2010 show about Peter Pan author JM Barrie. Even Stephen Fry is a fan.


Untitled Love Story

ST GEORGE’S WEST 5-29 AUG (NOT 10,17,24), 6PM, £15-£17


2401 Objects

David Leddy follows up last year’s lauded Sub Rosa with this Venice-set romance. Part of Remarkable Arts’ fantastic line-up this year.

PLEASANCE COURTYARD, 3-28 AUG (NOT 9,16,23), 4.40PM £9-£12

Analogue already have Mile End and Beachy Head to their name but this new play about memory looks set to be a powerful and mature addition to their oeuvre. Nick Vaughan


I Hope My Heart Goes First ST GEORGE’S WEST 5-16 & 24 AUG, TIMES VARY, £10

They’re only teens but Glasgow’s Junction 25 rank among the most innovative theatre companies in the country. Catch them before they head back to school in mid-August.


Alma Mater


Ten Plagues


TRAVERSE THEATRE, 1-28 AUG (NOT 2-5, 8, 15, 22), TIMES VARY, £6-£19

Jen Davies

Glasgow’s live-art specialists Fish and Game re-fashion their acclaimed show for the Fringe, arming each lone audience member with an iPad in a tiny shed.

One of 2011’s sure-fire hits, with a libretto by Mark Ravenhill, music by composer Conor Mitchell, direction by Tony Award-winner Stewart Laing and former Soft Cell frontman Marc Almond as the sole performer.


Mission Drift

TRAVERSE THEATRE, 3-14 AUG (NOT 4,5, 8), TIMES VARY, £15-£17

Three years after Architecting won plaudits, New York’s The TEAM return with an epoch-hopping musical through history of American capitalism.


The Infant

PLEASANCE COURTYARD 4-29 AUG (NOT 15,16), 2.35PM £11

Euan Myles

With Ernest and the Pale Moon to their name, Les Enfants Terribles’ 2011 offering promises to be a fascinating look at the nature of truth.


The Monster in the Hall TRAVERSE, 4-28 AUG (NOT 8,15,22), TIMES VARY, £15-17

David Greig, Scotland’s most prolific playwright, spawns another indie-comedy musical that fans of his 2009 Fringe hit Midsummer will adore.

Paul Green

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 39


The wheels of Peel

In 2002, John Osborne won a box of records on the late, great John Peel’s Radio 1 show. Now, with a little help from Submarine author Joe Dunthorne, he’s turned the experience into a play. Malcolm Jack investigates


or playwright, author, poet and actor John Osborne, the path to this year’s Fringe began with a sentence scrawled on a scrap of paper back in 2002: “Records you want to hear played by a man who wants you to hear them.” While tuned in to the late John Peel’s veritable institution of a BBC Radio 1 show, as he would be on many weeknights in his student flat in Norwich, Osborne was moved to enter a competition set by the legendary self-deprecating, comfort-blanket-voiced Liverpudlian disc jockey. It challenged listeners to pen a short missive summing up what it was that motivated them to keep on tuning in so religiously – basically to help him with the mountain of paper work required to enter the annual Sony Radio Awards. A couple of weeks later, Osborne got a call from a Peel show producer to tell him he’d won. After a few days, his prize arrived: a box of 150 vinyl records picked at random from a place where many a disc posted hopefully over the decades to the famous champion of musical curios was destined to eventually wind up: John Peel’s shed. “As you would expect it’s quite eclectic,” says Osborne of the vinyl haul, selections from which he’ll give a spin during his one-man play. “There’s reggae, indie, electro. Some names I recognised: Screaming Lord Sutch, Shyheim, who was the youngest member of the Wu Tang Clan. Then there’s lots of really obscure stuff, like a band called Maher Shalal Hash Baz who were a Japanese jazz collective. The most exciting one is Oi Zone who are a Boyzone punk cover band.” A gentle one-man celebration of the joy of the wireless and the intimate bond between DJ and listener, John Peel’s Shed is in part adapted from Osborne’s 2007 debut book Radio Head: Up And Down The Dial Of British Radio – a funny and touching tale of what happened when he decided to listen to a different radio station every day, all day, for a month. It’s also based on a show that he made himself for Norwich community station Future Radio as part of his research for the book, plus new material inspired directly by Peel’s vinyls. “The more I listen to these records the more I’m fascinated by who these people were,” says Osborne. “Part of the show is obsessed with finding out what has happened

40 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011




From the



to them since they sent the album to John Peel.” And part of it is obsessed with cherishing the decaying ritual—perhaps soon-tobe-forgotten in the digital age—of trawling the airwaves. “I hope that it reminds people how exciting radio can be and how peaceful it can be to tune in and find stations that you really love,” he says, “in the same way that people loved John Peel.” Its arrival at the 2011 Fringe brings John Peel’s Shed full-circle: the show was conceived and penned in Edinburgh last August, when Osborne was in town to perform in a play at the Free Fringe. The catalyst was director and producer Tom Searle, who had been listening to podcasts of Osborne’s Future Radio show, and suggested that he could help adapt it for the stage. Osborne set to work immediately on penning a script, scribbling away during mornings in the Pleasance Dome, hoping to capture some of the “buzz” of the Fringe. “I was worried that as soon as you leave Edinburgh the magic disappears,” he says. Some editorial input was required and Osborne had the perfect person to call upon: Joe Dunthorne, an old friend from his days as a creative writing student at the University of East Anglia and a fellow member of London poetry collective Aisle 16 (who are also at the Fringe this August). Dunthorne recently saw his acclaimed debut novel Submarine turned into a hit British indie movie directed by Richard Ayoade, and he was happy to bring his unique brand of “pedantry”, as he puts it, to the project. “I was primarily being annoyingly tweaky with sentences and with the shape of it,” says Dunthorne, who had performed a similar script-editor role during the adaptation of his book into its “evil twin” big screen version.

“I was always just trying to make sure the images were fresh and that there were no clichés. John’s a very good natural writer – I just tried to push him and make sure every word choice and every phrase was working.” Dunthorne compliments the “warmth” of John Peel’s Shed and Osborne’s performance in it, which he feels has merited comparisons with the kind of heart-warming whimsy Daniel Kitson does so well. “They’re definitely in the same ballpark,” he says. “It’s that kind of feeling at the end – fuzzy, nice, uplifting. John is great at that.” Dunthorne will himself appear at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this August to launch his new novel Wild Abandon. You can also expect him to occasionally cameo in Aisle 16 R Kool – a daily poetry triple-header with Osborne, Luke Wright and Tim Clare – and The Poetry Takeaway, “the world’s first purpose-built mobile poetry emporium” (an old converted burger van parked in Bristo Square). From there, Osborne and co will serve-up freshly penned verse to order for passers-by. “People will approach us, give us their specifications and we’ll attempt to write them as good a poem as possible in 10 minutes and perform it,” Osborne explains. “It’s like a different way of flyering,” he adds. “As a performer at the Fringe, it’s not the performance or the late nights or the drinking that tires you out. It’s the flyering. This is a fun way of getting round that problem.” A lo-fi, DIY, creative and mildly eccentric approach to self-promotion? Peel would surely have approved. f

John Peel’s Shed @ Underbelly

Steve Ullathorne

To fans of the hugely successful Radio 4 show, Ed Reardon is absolutely the nation’s favourite “author, pipesmoker, consummate fare-dodger and master of the abusive email”. Indeed, so fond is Paul Merton of Ed Reardon’s Week that he recently insisted on having a part written for him. Christopher Douglas and Andrew Nickolds stretch the legs of their misanthropic creation for this full-length outing at the Fringe.


Perhaps most often to be heard voicing a million-and-one parts in the radio series The Scarifyers, Dave Benson’s oneman-show Lockerbie: Unfinished Business finds him on an entirely different wavelength. Benson’s play gets right to the heart of why the incident, and its aftermath, holds such a grip on the national psyche. A huge hit in 2010, there’s only one chance to see the Fringe First winner this year.


NEW TOWN THEATRE, 4-28 AUG (NOT 16), 3.30PM, £5-£13

Perhaps the only show at the Fringe with a CBE-toting producer, the famous programme-maker and Classic FM founder Ralph Bernard launches his new theatre company with the premiere of DUST. It’s a project which began in the ‘80s with Bernard’s documentary series on mining communities, Down to Earth. 30 years on, DUST imagines Arthur Scargill on the morning of Margaret Thatcher’s death. [Evan Beswick]

4-28 Aug (not 15), 5:30pm, £9-10.50

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 41


Family hour

Faye Thomas

True Lies and Holby City actor Art Malik has been performing for over 30 years but never before at the Fringe. Peter Geoghegan asks: why now?


eige linen suit, white cotton shirt, rimless glasses and a pair of Crocs: it’s not exactly a popular look - especially on a dour, overcast June afternoon in Edinburgh. But then again, Art Malik has always been an enigma, and not just sartorially speaking. Malik burst onto television screens almost 30 years ago as the doomed young Indian Hari Kumar in ITV’s production of The Jewel in the Crown. Since then he’s popped up in everything from Hollywood blockbusters True Lies and Sex and the City 2 to Peak Practice and Holby City, in a career that could somewhat generously be described as eclectic. “I’ve done TV, film, theatre, voiceovers. Each one is a different experience and I enjoy them all,” Malik purrs in his soft Home Counties accent when I ask if he regrets not concentrating his considerable acting talents on one medium. Indeed, Malik - who is in town to promote his latest project, a gritty prison

drama called Ghosted, at the Edinburgh International Film Festival - is about to record yet another first on his vertiginous CV. At 58 and still ruggedly good-looking, the quondam “next Omar Sharif” is preparing to make his Fringe debut, where he’ll appear alongside his daughter Keira in Hywel John’s new play Rose. “I have always been up in Edinburgh to see mates of mine doing comedy and loved it, but I’ve never really had the opportunity to do something myself. Until now,” Malik smiles, his intense, brown eyes twinkling as he leans across the sofa in the lobby of the Caledonian Hotel to emphasise the point. In Rose, Malik, who was born in Pakistan but raised in England, plays an anonymous Middle Eastern immigrant who struggles to bring up his titular Englishborn daughter. Rose’s attempts to find out who she is and where she is from meet only with resistance from a father reluctant to reveal himself and fixated on bringing up

42 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

Above Rose stars Art Malik alongside his daughter, Keira

his beloved daughter the “English” way. The parallels with Malik’s own experiences are clear: “I came to England when I was three. I didn’t know where I was going, only that I was on a boat for three weeks. Next thing I knew I was in London,” he says. An ardent Anglophile, Malik talks with barely concealed passion about the “normality” and “goodness” of life in the UK, but admits that for a young British Asian breaking into acting was a struggle. It took five years to land the role in The Jewel in the Crown that was to make his name – and even then opportunities remained scarce. “When I was doing The Jewel in the Crown there was a vacancy in the cornershop on Coronation Street but the producers didn’t want to go down that road. Now we have Asian families in our soaps, on our televisions. We’ve got things like [Idris Elba’s BBC drama] Luther now too. That wouldn’t have happened in my time.” Television – and society – has changed a lot since Malik was a novice actor. He is quietly proud that Keira has followed in her father’s footsteps, saying, “whatever glass ceilings there were have been cracked.” Like her character in Rose, Malik’s daughter “sees the world differently” from her father. “She has a mother from Plymouth [Gina Rowe]. She was born and raised in England. She also grew up in the industry,” he remarks. Art and Keira Malik have appeared alongside one another once before but the pater familias is hopeful that Edinburgh will be a case of second time lucky. “Keira played my daughter in an episode of Messiah with Ken Stott. It was supposed to be a speaking part but then, as it goes in television, her words were cut on set. She was pretty upset about that!” Keira will certainly have plenty of lines in Rose. As for making adjustments to the text on the hoof, Malik believes Hywel John’s script is far too good to be tampered with: “It’s like if you pick up Shakespeare or Stoppard - here, you’ve got someone who is very good at writing. If you start paraphrasing or changing the lines you’re not doing the play justice.” A consummate professional, Malik has spent three decades honouring scripts around the world. Once the Fringe finishes, filming starts for the next series of the BBC’s Upstairs, Downstairs. “That’s the way my life is,” he smiles enigmatically. You get the feeling Art Malik, Crocs and all, wouldn’t have it any other way. f

Rose @ Pleasance Courtyard

3-29 Aug (not 16), 5:25pm, £13.50-14.50




Federer v Murray



Coming to your senses

After using gardens, his own flat, and the bowels of an old theatre for previous shows, David Leddy is staging his new play somewhere altogether darker and more inaccessible: the audience’s head. Edd McCracken finds out more


ike any good artist, playwright David Leddy’s primary concern is neither words nor visuals, but the senses. One of Scotland’s most unconventional directors, his previous site-specific works have needled at least one of them: from a play taking place purely through headphones in a garden (Susurrus) to a flesh-creeping backstage tour of a gothic theatre (last year’s Fringe hit Sub Rosa). For his latest offering, his first in a conventional theatre space, Leddy plans to go one step further. Instead of watching the play unfold in its entirety onstage, he plans for most explosions of plot, character and emotional connection to happen in the audience’s head. Once seated in the theatre, the lights will go out and a velvety voice will ask the audience to begin meditating. You see, with this year’s Fringe show, Untitled Love Story, he is offering up his own theatrical roasted ortolan. For those not well versed in gastronomic roguery, roasting and eating an ortolan, a small French songbird, is known to be one of the world’s most sensuous - and outlawed - snacks.

The small bird is first drowned in cognac, plucked, roasted and then eaten whole. Its tiny bones puncture and lacerate the mouth’s lining, mixing the eater’s blood with that of the bird. All the while a napkin is placed over the diner’s head. By denying the sense of sight, the senses of smell, touch, and taste are enhanced. The ortolan is not just a handy analogy for Untitled Love Story – one is crunched and devoured in the play too. But still your howls of protest: it happens only in the audience’s head. Leddy has been a studious vegetarian since childhood. He admits that for years he has wanted to stage a show where darkness and meditation is a key aspect. It foregrounds the audience, reduces the artist, enhances the art. “Our imaginations are very powerful things,” he says. “A play doesn’t have any inherent meaning of its own. The audience contribute most of the meaning when they interpret it. They draw on their own understanding and experience to understand it. I just wanted to push it one step forward, to embed it in the weft and weave of the piece. “Besides,” he adds with a sigh born out of

44 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

jetlag after returning from opening Susurrus in Brazil, “I think it will be a nice antidote to the insanity of the Fringe. You’re tired, hungover, running all over town between shows. And then you arrive with us: there’s a beautiful soundscape that washes over you, a warm velvety voice telling you to stop, take a deep breath and relax. It will be a welcome relief.” For anyone who has previously immersed themselves in a Leddy show, they will know that his unconventional staging is no gimmick. If he puts it on in his own flat, as he did in Home Hindrance, there is a valid, emotionally resonant reason for it. Likewise, meditating in Untitled Love Story actually is integral to the plot. It is set in Venice, “the city of the imagination” according to Leddy, because “it looks exactly as it does in your mind”. Four characters wander through the city’s narrow alleys and canal sides. Taking place over four decades, they never meet. One is a priest accused of heresy, another is a writer who loses her partner, one is an art historian with the night terrors, and the other is Peggy Guggenheim, art collector and patron of modernism. Speaking to Leddy, it appears he is besotted with this latter character. He read her memoirs recently, “a fast and breathless, stream of consciousness, with wind whipping through her hair as she drives her red sports car with a Giacometti sculpture on the back seat.” And like all infatuations, jealousy is part of its DNA. Leddy looks back on the time of Guggenheim and her ilk with longing. “I wanted it to be about this period of the mid-20th century when there was this enormous, explosive energy, the feeling that the past had been swept away and a new world could be built out of the energy of our own minds. And I felt quite envious of those artists, with their hope of what the future can bring.” As for Leddy’s future, he certainly has designs for it – and it isn’t on the Fringe. This is the last year he will be staging work here. He has now been in Edinburgh three years in a row: three costly years. “The Fringe is very expensive,” he says. “It compromises the quality of the work. I don’t think it’s a good idea to become a fixture at the Fringe and be a company who are there every year. That was never our intention. So get us while we’re here. We won’t be here for long.” f

Untitled Love Story @ St George’s West Above David Leddy

5-29 Aug (not 10,17, 24), 6:00pm, £15-17


Chris Goo de The Adven t

u Wound Ma res of n and Shirley

e n o l a g n i d n a t S

We say:

solo efforts l play host to a fistful of Edinburgh this year wil l pedigree. with serious theatrica from writers and actors st s up on some of the be Yasmin Sulaiman bone

Bryony Kimmings

Greg McLaren

7 Day Drunk

Doris Day Can Fuck Off

tre Total Thea

er of a ny Idiot, Bryo We dsfoaryla: stWinn year’s Sex exciting—

Awar the most at is one of e artists Kimmings honest—liv y n gl in rm spent seve e Sh and disa . ar this ye the Fringe erent scientifically to ff days in di ates of intoxication kes st , which ta ow monitored sh w ne r her een prepare fo onship betw the relati a look at l. ho co al and creativity tail “Its a cock is Day Drunk 7 . ed st ta n, l we have al tween a sweet refrai be , an somewhere experiment ssive an , on ss le ma a history ups and a st of fuck endless li ” y! boozy part

She says:

Flick Ferdinando

The Caroline Carter Show

We say:

Highlights of Ferdinando’s 20-year career include her work with London-based awardwinners Company FZ and Peep olykus – and, just recently, she dire cted the 2009 Fringe hit Kim Noble Must Die. Her new variety show-like offering centres on June Carter’s fict ional cousin, Caroline. And with song names like ‘Nobody Fancies a Pige on’, how can you resist?

She says: “Caroline Carter is up

close with you. She’s intimate , she gets into your soul and she ain’t the kind of sit there and sing gal. She wants to know you and you’ll definitely get to know her! It’s a roller coaster emotional ride – expect to be entertained, touched (literally) and to laugh a lot!”

46 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

At Chris Goode st last year’s Fringe, arred in Tim Crouch’s controversia l The Author : expect his solo work to be just as ch allenging an innovative. In d 2011, the doub First winner le Fringe brings us a do wnsized vers of his acclai ion med 2009 tale , in which teenage Shir ley (a boy) ha s heart-warm adventures wi ing th 14th centur y medical superhero, Wo und Man.

He says:

“Wound Man and Shirley  is sort of a bedtime story grown-ups. Yo for u just settle back and list as the tale un en folds. But se cretly, while everyone’s re laxing into it, I’m sneaki some quite su ng in bversive stuf f!””

We say: Could you live every day

as if it were a Doris Day film? Greg McLaren tried it for three weeks and has turned the experience—at times euphoric, often painful and alienating—into one of the most anticipated theatrical events of August. The artistic director of Stoke Newington International Airport, McLaren is counted among British theatre’s brightest young talents, so be sure to catch him while he’s in town.

Sandy Grierson

ndy Tonight Sa ll i w n so r Grie ance D , e r u t c e L and Box

He says:

“The sense of what is and what is not acceptable in society has become skewed. I threw myself out there to test the limits and this show is the result. I’m just going to give it to you in the way it excites me, with as much energy and wit as possible.”

Hannah Ringham Hannah Ringham’s Free Show (Bring Money) ingham


R g y:tHoatnhneahFringee, hFaivrisntWe rsaa g nger ch. ’s Frin

son y Grier 11, Sand ht 0 2 h c r g oni In Ma play, T ce and en his n stir wh l Lecture, Da Mor to a d se n il cau land w w’s Ora olish e o r I sg a d l i G P t Dav iered a udent of the , Grierson m e r p x a st Bo iews. A Zofia Kalinsk self in v e r e v r m i ra a h st e e l d o ar e r dist avant g e on the titl , absur k ovative ents will ta e of this inn al Belt resid e t r a t se d n p o e u t C y n n a it art. No portun rs in work of miss this op ng acto u o y ’t st shouldn otland’s fine Sc one of action. , fuck ce realism  “Fuck ng the audien etendi ictable r d p e r k p c n u u , it’s lism, f natura ere: it’s live t Sandy are, th onigh T .  aren’t e ere we r r t thea a ctly wh and its ... starts exa hen gets as f y t l n Grierso together, and ible as quick elp.” ss h in room m there as po ant, you can w ro if you away f an. And as we c

We say:

: He says

2007 no st m Crou med in ith Ti perfor England w under of g o winnin ar, the co-f unt Lounge t e ? n s Sh u o m This y mporta “free” mean a f ’s in most i s London one of the e: what doe m s tackle s of our ti on of a questi story ed l the “I tel rong. Widow gone w , divorced, s a h gain life whose owed a of the woman h child, wid the middle nce: what’s t i n die u a e and w te. Right i h you t a desper ance, I ask m perfor h?” t it wor

ys: She sa


Breaking the cycle Clean Break has attracted much praise for its efforts working with vulnerable women. Jo Caird chats to them about their debut Fringe play, Dream Pill, which tackles the thorny issue of sex trafficking in the UK


Sheila Burnett

n a way, the formula is simple: you get some extraordinary writers, you ask them to write something extraordinary, and you’ll get extraordinary work.” This, according to director Tessa Walker, is the secret behind the critical and popular success of Clean Break, the theatre, education and new writing company making its Fringe debut this year with Dream Pill. The show tells the story of Bola and Tunde, two nine-year-old Nigerian girls sex trafficked to an unnamed UK city. It first appeared at the Soho Theatre in London last year as part of Charged, a series of six short plays commissioned by Clean Break to address issues around women and the criminal justice system, both matters at the heart of the company’s work. Dream Pill is the product of months of in-depth research by Critics’ Circle Awardwinning playwright Rebecca Prichard. This included conversations with the former head of the Metropolitan Police’s now disbanded Human Trafficking Team, the trafficking charity ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) and the Poppy Project, an organisation which provides accommodation and support to trafficked women. Having become “very concerned about trafficking” during research on a project about violence against women, Prichard began to look into how young girls were also being turned into victims of sex trafficking. “I was quite shocked by some of the things I read”, she says. “The cliché about trafficking being the modern slavery of our times and all of that, it just feels like we are living with a reality that is unacceptable. So that was really the motive behind the play.” Theatre, continues the playwright, “is one of a few places where we still collectively gather as a community. I know it’s a bit cheesy to say that, but it is – where we sit side-by-side and agree to think about something. As a writer you can’t waste that and you just have to write about what you feel is most urgent for people to think about”. There’s always a danger that a work which seeks to tackle a specific issue

48 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

festtheatre “You just see them as children and then suddenly you remember why they’re there” will come across as preachy and heavyhanded. This is something that Prichard was very much aware of as Dream Pill was in development. “You can dehumanise the whole issue by saying, ‘isn’t it so grim,’” she says. “But I think if you’re really earnest and say how awful it is in the acting or in the directing, you don’t let the audience experience how awful it is”. For its director Walker, the reason the play had such an impact on audiences in London (“sometimes people couldn’t move afterwards”) was that Prichard’s “research sits in the background”, allowing the human elements of the story room to breathe. “There’s a lot of humour in it and a lot of light as well, which makes the tragedy of it much more powerful,” explains Walker. “But the reason it is so moving is that for a lot of it you’re invited to laugh with the girls because they’re so characterful and they’re so human. And sometimes you forget—I think

Left Samantha Pearl as Tunde, and Danielle Vitalis as Bola

that’s one of the brilliant things about the play—it lets you forget they’re trafficked children. You just see them as children and then suddenly you remember why they’re there and I think that’s why it’s so powerful.” This lightness of touch, as well as the emphasis on storytelling, is key to the dialogue between Clean Break’s new writing work and the company’s other strand; delivering arts education and training to women in prisons, ex-offenders and those at risk of offending due to drug, alcohol or mental health problems. “Because Clean Break works with women on a daily basis,” explains the company’s artistic programmer, Lucy Morrison, “we have a responsibility to tell stories that are really difficult and relevant—even if it’s in a metaphorical sense—to their lives. “Sex trafficking is a very particular theme, but actually a lot of the women who work with us have the feeling that they didn’t get to have a childhood,” she adds. “When they come to us they start to reflect on that stuff and there’s quite a big grieving process about childhood.” But for the stories the company tells to truly reflect the lives of the women it works with, there can be no compromise, no pandering to audience’s preconceptions about challenging subjects. Absolute sincerity is

essential. “You can’t use tricks and you can’t lie and that’s the root of it for me really,” says Morrison. “We’re creating the work to tell stories and to give a voice to people who don’t have a voice.” Walker has worked with Clean Break on a number of projects and is unequivocal about the positive effect of the company’s education and training programme on those who take part: “It genuinely changes the lives of those women who are involved in it. There should be no mistake about that.” But the director is also keen not to understate the potential of “just getting stuff out there.” She says, “By telling stories about trafficking or abuse of women or girl gangs— these were the kind of topics that were dealt with in the Charged season—it does do something to our collective understanding of the world. It really does and it doesn’t matter if that’s only four people, because that’s four people who are changed in some way. You can’t really change anything on a massive level until you feel that change within yourself and that’s why theatre is so powerful.” f

Dream Pill @ Underbelly

4-28 Aug (not 15), 4:05pm, £8-9

+ =

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 49


Urban decay It’s been four years since 1927 enjoyed award-winning Edinburgh success with Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. This year, they’re back with a timely look at urban revolt and alienation. Matt Trueman takes to the frontline


n the cut-throat cold of a December afternoon, smoke rises out of London’s Parliament Square. Makeshift missiles— chunks of kerb, bits of wood—cascade through the air, aimed at police lines set up around the perimeter. The roads are smattered with paint. Placards are being burnt and metal fences used as battering rams. Occasionally police horses charge towards the crowd as thousands of students voice their anger over tuition fees. That same evening, a little under three miles down the road, 1927’s new show opens at the Battersea Arts Centre and the very same scene seems to reoccur onstage. In Paul Barritt’s animation, hoards of stick-figure children tear up a municipal park. They set fire to lampposts and leap onto ice-cream vans. The city’s youth is revolting. Their demands: “Better living conditions, better education and,” in an eagle-eyed sideswipe at the so-called post-ideological generation, “an Xbox for every child.” “We didn’t set out to make a political show at all,” says Suzanne Andrade, the company’s writer, performer and, alongside Barritt, co-founder. “1927 are out to

entertain. It’s what we do and, I think, what we do best, but individually we have various interests and involvements in more political activities and ideas, which inevitably feed into the work we make.” It would be several steps too far to suggest that The Animals and the Children Took to the Streets, which 1927 devised over two years, preempted last winter’s student protests. However, its parallels with today’s political and economic climate are too many to dismiss as mere coincidence. It is set in a city divided by wealth, with flash skyscrapers looming over a disaffected ghetto, known as The Bayou. Overpopulated, lawless and filthy, Andrade’s text describes it as “a fully-furnished shithole” and “someone else’s bad dream.” “The Bayou is a place completely ignored by the rest of the city; a cockroach-infested building wriggling with perverts and problems. Once you’re there, it’s very hard to get out and it festers away unnoticed.” While touring their previous show internationally, the London-based company spent time in Hong Kong. There they visited Chungking Mansions, a series of five tower

50 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

blocks in the centre of Kowloon that house around 4,000 people at any given time. Its run-down corridors are teeming with shop fronts, street sellers and touts, all hawking their wares at full volume. “That had quite an impact, but we were also inspired by areas in London that are bubbles of wealth and artsy goings-on, completely disconnected to the communities around them. We wanted to reflect and distort certain things we see in London, but keep the tone silly and funny despite a sinister edge.” That’s characteristic of 1927. Their last show, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, was a cabaret of deliciously wicked popgothic vignettes. The trick up its sleeve lay in the interaction of live action and projected animation. Cartoon arrows pierced performers’ heads and sepia-toned lithographs sprang to life. Accompanied by a tumbling piano score, it felt like a silent film possessed and running amok in an empty auditorium. The technique, which has been refined for The Animals…, wowed both critics and audiences alike at the 2007 Fringe and 1927 left Edinburgh with a sackful of awards. There was also interest from international venues, including the Sydney Opera House, which would later commission a second show in partnership with the BAC. “We weren’t expecting anything like it. It just went mental,” Andrade says, as if still in disbelief four years on. Returning to Edinburgh for the first time since, the company are preparing themselves for a more muted response: “To have that success at the Fringe every single year, you have to go back and make that explosion, because everyone seems to be looking for something new. You have to keep reinventing yourselves and that’s not what we want to do.” “On my to-do list for two years has been ‘make a show.’ Now the difficult second album is done. As long as audiences keep coming and as long as they keep enjoying it, then that’s enough. It’s more than enough.” f

Above 1927’s Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

The Animals and Children Took to the Streets @ Pleasance Courtyard 19-28 Aug, 4:10pm, £12

CaLARTS Festival Theater - 8th Season on the Fringe! 14:45


CalArts Center for New Performance

Hôtel de l’Avenir


Daugh t e r of a Cuban Revo l u t iona r y

Fles hE

atin gT


Written and Performed by Marissa Chibas

by Am yT oft




CaLARTS Festival Theater @

Broken Wing Hôtel de l’Avenir Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary Flesh Eating Tiger Little Eyolf

11:45 14:45 16:00 19:00 20:30

£8 General - £5 Concessions tix: 07074 20 13 13

On Lochend Close Just off the Royal Mile 100m past Cannongate Kirk

5-20 August not 8,15,16 Aug

n Quee

et Stre erick fred

t tree ver S Hano

t Stree Rose

t Stree Rose

ridge rley B Wave

t Stree s e c Prin nd Mou The

rket nma Law

a Street tori Vic

10 King Stables Road

Sp itt al St ree t

Hig hR igg s

ey Gr rl Ea


26 THE ZOO 140 THE PLEASANCE, 0131 662 6892


et re St

am gh ou Br

e ac Pl

Home Street



31 Lauriston Place


e le Terrac Lonsda


Br is


35 THE STAND COMEDY CLUB II 16 NORTH ST ANDREW ST, 0131 558 7272 e Plac 36ris THE ton STAND COMEDY CLUB u LaIII & IV 28 YORK PLACE, 0131 558 7272

39 ZOO ROXY LOTHIAN ROAD, 0131 228 1404 2 ROXBURGH PLACE, 0131 662 6892 Th orny bank e Place SUBSCRIBE TO OUR PODCAST FROM Panmur

reet Tarvit St


eet ers Str Chalm

Br 27 ZOOoSOUTHSIDE ss ou 662 6892 cr 117 TNICOLSON STREET, 0131 oll g t s e TRAVERSE THEATRE ha W28

Can dle m ak


ens Gard iston Laur

et re St



et re St

23 JUST THE TONIC @ THE STORE g 37 GUTHRIE STREET, o0131 556 5375 e Ri

eet Str ple Sem

21 SWEET GRASSMARKET e dg 61 GRASSMARKET, 0131 bri 243 3596 ain t n 22 GREYFRIARS u KIRK Fo GREYFRIARS PLACE, 0131 668 2019


n so w La

18 PLEASANCE COURTYARD 60 PLEASANCE, 0131 556 6550 Bread Street 19 PLEASANCE DOME BRISTO SQUARE, 0131 556 6550

et ark ssm Gra et ark ssm Gra

dy La



w Ro er



ge brid

Ca m br id ge St .

ill Castleh

ce erra nT sto n Joh


stre High

IV rge Geo


st. Bank

le st Ca



ce rra Te

n Road Lothia

oad ch R roa p Ap


Forest Ro ad

St. hope

lace nd P Mou

urgh b n i Ed astle C Ki ng St ab les Ro ad

Wav St

eet t Str e k r Ma







ens d r a eet G r t S es Princ



Sq. drew St An

et Stre erick fred

Sq. lotte Char

t Stree Rose

reet le St Cast

t Stree Rose

reet le St thist

reet ge St Geor

Sq. lotte Char

reet le St thist

t tree ver S Hano


12/07/2010 12:32:13

et g Stre Youn

Sq. drew St An

et n Stre Quee

treet Hill S

et Stre stle h Ca Nort

treet lme S St Co




t Row Herio

The Meadows

Lei th S tr

Place rloo Wate d Regent Roa

dge h Bri Nort

y verle n tatio

Calton Road

et Stre New

et East Market Stre Jeffrey Street

7 Cockburn Street

n lso ho Nic

Lo th ian

treet ton S Crich

are e Squ Georg

t es W

et tre dS n o hm ric


eet Str


w erro pott


ce d Pla mon Rich

ace l Pl Hil





ce Pla viot


ce Pla

St. llege h Co Sout

gh bur Rox

eet Str nd o mm Dru


et tre


St ary rm i f In

h urg xb Ro


se ’s clo rtson Robe



ge St. Colle West

st oP la ce

Road Holyrood



tree Gu thrie s

t tree rs S mbe a h C


e Cowgat

e Bridg South


lose y’s C h Gra Sout

t Stree Blair

se Old fishmarket Clo


reet ry St Nidd


et Stre ary’s St M

l Mile / Roya treet High s

reet rs st kfria Blac

l Mile Roya eet /

ngate Cano

et tre nS so l o ich tN es W

27 el ap Ch Place leuch Bucc

West Cros scausewa y

causeway EAST Cross

eet uch Str Buccle

are e Squ Georg

. St


t ree r St eillo k n ra

tre rk S Cle

t ree e St agu ont


Brain power Their 2007 debut Mile End won a Fringe First and 2009’s Beachy Head was also widely praised. Now Analogue are returning with an intriguing new show about a famous brain surgery patient, as Joe Pike discovers


o you fancy having your brain dissected in a procedure streamed live on the internet to 400,000 people? Before his death in 2008, an American called Henry Molaison gave his consent for this to happen. Most people’s brains wouldn’t be remotely interesting to scientists, but Molaison’s was different. In 1953, in a last-ditch effort to prevent his epileptic seizures, he underwent experimental brain surgery. The seizures ceased but it left him with severe memory impairment. He could no longer recall the previous two years of his life and he lost the ability to form new long-term memories, so lived eternally in the present. 30-year-old Liam Jarvis was gripped by that internet stream and two years on from the dissection, he’s boundlessly enthusiastic about Molaison’s life. He’s the most written about patient in the history of neuroscience, with something in the region of 11,900 scientific journals published on him. Jarvis speaks with the wide-eyed excitement of a child: “His brain was dissected into 2401 micron-thin slices. And those brain slices are being individually scanned and turned into a 3D Google map of the human brain.” Alongside his life as a PhD student, Jarvis

and his old university friend, Hannah Barker, are the wunderkinds behind theatrical alchemists Analogue. The company created the show everyone was raving about at the 2007 Fringe - Mile End - and 2009’s highly regarded Beachy Head. Renowned for an obsession with using technology on stage and doing a serious amount of research for each show, their third production - inspired by Molaison’s story and entitled 2401 Objects - is no less ambitious. Dr Jacopo Annese, the neuroscientist who dissected Molaison’s brain, was consulted in preparing the show: “We’ve had a number of transatlantic phone calls with Dr Jacopo, who has very kindly agreed to let us use his voice in the show,” explains Jarvis. “So we want to introduce him directly to our audience and to talk to him about the operation. He’s creating the slides that let us peer at a microscopic level into the void that was created by Dr William Scoville, who conducted the operation in the 1950s. It’s almost a kind of archaeology.” In 2401 Objects, Analogue have again found a story with social and ethical complexities. Barker says their aim is very much to provoke thought and so far, understanding the human side of their main character has been a compelling, if challenging, journey.

54 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

Above Analogue’s 2401 Objects

“What’s hard to find out about is Henry’s emotional life, she says, “what he was like with his family. His guardian was his mother and then his aunt and that role was passed on to Suzanne Quorkin, the scientist who looked after him as a subject. He was heavily guarded in his health centre.” Lewis Hetherington, the dramaturge on the project, jumps in: “It’s important to remember his intellect wasn’t impaired at all so he had these discussions up to his death. And what’s interesting is that there are a number of transcriptions that exist where he took pride in taking part and ‘helping other people’. He used that phrase a lot.” You’d think it might be a charmed existence being part of such a successful theatre company. But don’t underestimate the sweat that’s been shed in the fight to get Analogue established. “Certainly when Mile End first started, we paid for it doing other jobs,” says Jarvis. “I was working in a call centre on Brick Lane, Hannah was working for an agency. So we would work all day in full-time jobs and rehearse in the evening. It’s incredibly hard.” Jarvis knows the many potential pitfalls for so-called “emerging artists”, especially in a volatile financial climate: “It’s a Catch-22 situation for most young companies. You have to have a track record to be able to attract funding, but to get a track record you have to find support and resources. And it’s a really difficult cycle to break.” Barker agrees: “You can’t cut corners which is unfortunate, but it does mean you have to sacrifice a lot at the very beginning. We were doing two jobs, we moved out of our houses and back in with our parents for a year. All to get Mile End up to Edinburgh, to be able to pay for all the marketing and get it into a good state. There’s so much sacrifice in that early stage.” Even now as an affiliate company of the National Theatre, with funding from the Arts Council and countless venues desperate to co-produce their work, life’s not really much smoother. They lead a nomadic lifestyle, living out of suitcases as they travel across the UK and continental Europe to secure small periods of free rehearsal space at sympathetic theatres. Now they can no longer claim to be the new kids on the Fringe and expectations are understandably high. Analogue need to sell a lot of tickets to fill their new performance space in Edinburgh: “Terrifyingly, it’s approximately double the capacity of any venue we’ve been to before,” says Barker. “It’s about 350 seats and that’s a big space to fill. It’s scary - you don’t want to let people down.” f

2401 Objects @ Pleasance Courtyard 3-28 Aug (not 9, 16, 23), 4:40pm, £10-12


edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 55


Target: audience

From dance marathons to wedding discos, Sam Friedman takes a look at the burgeoning selection of participatory theatre at this year’s Fringe


hen Stephen O’Connell, coartistic director of Dance Marathon, explained to his actors that during the show’s New York run the entire audience would spontaneously break into the YMCA, the cast were understandably sceptical. New Yorkers are way too cynical for that, they told him, way too cool. But O’Connell was right. Such is the immersive force of Dance Marathon’s unique theatrical journey that halfway through, when the sounds of Village People hit the dancefloor, even the most affected hipster succumbed. “They just totally gave into it,” O’Connell explains. The premise of Dance Marathon is inspired by the Depression-era endurance contests of the 1930s, in which hapless couples would dance non-stop for hundreds of hours in the pursuit of prize

money and the brief promise of fame. Toronto-based company Bluemouth Inc’s theatrical version comes in at a more modest four hours, but nonetheless demands serious participatory commitment. Upon entering, each audience member—or ‘contestant’ is given a number and paired with a random dance partner, some of whom are covert performers. After an initial ‘free dance’—a few minutes during which contestants are allowed to freestyle in the dark –cynics are welcome to choose optional elimination, but those who stay in suddenly find themselves thrown into the competitive melee of a real marathon. “After the free dance you see this really interesting physiological shift,” explains O’Connell. “Most people start all nervous, thinking about their anxieties, but as soon as they’re given three minutes to shift into

56 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

Above Dance Marathon

being in their bodies rather than their head, and the adrenaline kicks in, they move into a completely different emotional state.” Dance Marathon may seem extreme, but it is only one of a number of intensely participatory plays on offer at this year’s Fringe. The festival has always been a hotbed for immersive and site-specific work, but traditionally these shows have been performer-led or framed around one-onone interactions between performer and spectator. In contrast, Dance Marathon is emblematic of a new breed of Fringe theatre that casts its entire audience in the lead role. From Blast Theory’s A Machine to See With, which invites audiences to rob a bank, to the promise of a video-goggle joyride in And the Birds Fell from the Sky, there is a long list of shows that rely on audience interaction to create the performance. 


Alma Mater

St George’s West

St George’s West

St George’s West

Hill Street Theatre

Pleasance Upstairs

I Hope My Heart Goes First

Last Orders

Matters Of The Heart

Medea’s Children

One Million Tiny Plays About Britain

St George’s West

Traverse One

Zoo Southside

St George’s West

Hill Street Theatre

One Thousand Paper Cranes

Snails and Ketchup

Ten Plagues

The Arches presents Adrian Howells

The Monster In The Hall

Assembly George Square

New Town Theatre

Traverse One

The Point Hotel

Traverse Two

Untitled Love Story

What Remains

Blood and Roses

Cloud Man

Fleeto and Wee Andy

Made in Scotland is a showcase of some of Scotland’s most exciting theatre, dance and children’s shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Selected by a distinguished panel of programmers, cultural managers and commentators the programme represents some of the finest work being produced in Scotland today. For full show times and information visit:

St George’s West

Traverse@University of Edinburgh Medical School Tickets 0131 226 0000 or

Supported by the Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo fund



Jen Davies


On Your



The innovative and original premise of Fish & Game’s Fringe debut, Alma Mater, which has been dubbed a “filmic tour for one”, fuses traditional performance with the latest in consumer technology, thanks to its use of contemporary electronics – in this case, an iPad. Lasting just ten minutes, individual audience members will watch the play in a specially-constructed child’s bedroom. A very alternative take on the mysteries of growing up.



This intriguing piece from Poorboy—a professional company based in the North East of Scotland—takes individual audience members on an interactive journey via an MP3 player, spinning a yarn that spans 400 years in the process. It’s a revival of a hit show from 2010, so comes as a great second opportunity to be part of an intense and highly atmospheric theatrical experience.



(G)Host City is somewhat of a groundbreaking event: there are no tickets, no starting times and no queues. This minifestival is comprised of a site-specific virtual tour of the city, and can be conducted by anyone themselves, for free, by downloading a particular performance onto their MP3 player. Expect a tour of Edinburgh’s streets told through their stories. [Amy Taylor]

58 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 58 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

festtheatre  And at its most exciting, this new wave of participatory theatre has the ability to open up exhilarating new directions in aesthetic experience. By getting the audience to dance, for instance, O’Connell says Dance Marathon is able to fundamentally alter the physical and emotional state of its audience. “Because the Marathon is a fourhour competition, the audience goes through a natural process of fatigue. And that’s when we begin to interlace our more theatrical moments –poetry, music, visuals. At this point, people are feeling vulnerable so when the final monologue hits you, the language takes you to a completely different level.” Certainly, the show is not without its plaudits. Award-winning Scottish Playwright David Greig was so impressed after seeing the show in Cork that he proclaimed, “Dance Marathon feels like a new paradigm for performance. The art arrives on seeded ground: not a cold audience in a theatre watching with a critically detached eye but , literally, a warm audience, open to emotion and involved with the performance.” Yet not all this year’s participatory productions are quite so euphoric and life-affirming. Acclaimed Belgian company Ontroerend Goed return with Audience, a show that promises to explore the darker side of group dynamics. Part theatre, part social experiment, the show aims to push the boundaries of audience interaction, testing in particular how people react under the strain of group pressure. “At the beginning we make the audience feel comfortable, we treat them with a lot of respect and kindness,” explains Joeri Smet, one of the show’s actors. “But then we challenge them and force them to take a position. And the most interesting thing is that people comply to a context when there is a certain expectation of behaviour. And theatre does it as well, you’re expected to applaud, you’re expected to laugh, you’re expected to have fun. But in this show we explore what happens when suddenly the fun gets a little bit nasty, or has this darker quality. Do you continue having fun, or do you suddenly make a switch?” Of course the success of shows like Audience and Dance Marathon hinge on the cooperation of audience members. But what happens if people refuse to take part? Ontroerend Goed plan meticulously for such occurrences, staging dozens of dress rehearsals for test audiences. The idea is to find a structure, a dramaturgy, where the actors can deal with anything the audience throws at them – even total refusal. “It’s like a tree structure,” says Smet. “You have possible reaction a, b, c, d, and you know what to do when each one happens so that we can still move on in the play.” But Smet is concerned that British audiences may be more reticent than those on the continent about “going with” the show as it

“Dance Marathon feels like a new paradigm for performance”


explores more disarming and uncomfortable interactions. “I’ve noticed there is a tendency to be quite ethical here and there might be things that go a bit too far for a British audience,” he says. Smet is reluctant to generalise about why the Brits may find it harder to explore their dark side, but hints that British society contains “more social rules” than elsewhere. Adrian Howells, playwright and artist-inresidence at The Arches, says he’s noticed a similar risk aversion among audiences in the UK. “Of course I’m generalising, but I think what the Brits do is automatically put up barriers to protect themselves. We’re not very good at exploring. We’re too uptight and we find it difficult to engage in more intimate forms of communication,” he says. “For example, just on a superficial level, when do you really share qualitative eye contact with someone in Britain? When do you really meet someone’s gaze?” Howells’ work is famous for using close-up participatory theatre to foster this kind of intimate connection, and this year he continues in this vein with two highly interactive Fringe shows. In The Pleasure of Being: Washing, Feeding, Holding, Howells explores the power of non-verbal communication by enticing one audience member into a luxurious bath of rose petals and essential oils, before wrapping them in a fluffy white towel, feeding them white chocolate and delicately cradling them in his arms. His second show, May I Have The Pleasure…?, continues the therapeutic theme, with audiences invited to a fictional wedding disco and encouraged to join Howells in dancing, reminiscing and collectively venting about irate brides, unreasonable wedding requests and the more general disappointment of failed relationships.

festtheatre Although Howells’ work may be less energetic than Dance Marathon, he agrees with Greig that this new wave of participatory theatre is bringing with it potentially transformational possibilities. “It’s about facilitating opportunities for people to have physical, emotional or cathartic experiences, about really connecting with themselves,” he says. For his part, O’Connell says he is flattered by Greig’s claims about the paradigm-shifting potential of Dance Marathon. “as a group we think more modestly,” he says. “But I do think we’ve discovered a number of really unique ways to work with audiences and perhaps open the floodgates for a new kind of performance. The question now is where we go from here.” f

Dance Marathon @ Traverse

3-14 Aug (not 4, 8, 11), Times vary, £17-19

Audience @ St George’s West

5-28 Aug (not 10, 17, 24), 10:55pm, £10-12

The Pleasure of Being: Washing, Feeding, Holding @ The Point Hotel

19-28 Aug (not 20), Times vary, £12.50

May I Have The Pleasure...? @ Traverse

15-28 Aug (not 20, 25, 26), Times vary, £17-£19 Dance Marathon

The seven Weill

deadly sins There’s a world of temptation out there HMV Picture House, Edinburgh Mon 29 Aug 9pm Sat 3 Sep 7pm & 9pm 0844 847 1740

O2 ABC, Glasgow Wed 31 Aug 9pm Thu 1 Sep 9pm 0844 477 2000

Book online at Registered in Scotland Number SCO37531 Scottish Charity Number SCO19787

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 59


Carmel knowledge

Brian Hartley

Malcolm Jack meets dancer Diana Payne-Myers, star of A Conversation with Carmel, who at 83 is the oldest performer at the Fringe this year


he Fringe thrives on firsts and there will be lots of them in a record-breaking year in 2011. But is anything likely to top the sheer joy to be had from watching the festival’s oldest and youngest performer, both onstage together, both dancing? Family drama A Conversation With Carmel – a pioneering fusion of dance, theatre, film and community performance, made by Glasgow-based company Barrowland Ballet – promises to be one of the feel-good hits of Edinburgh this August. Part of the Made in Scotland showcase, it stars an ensemble cast that spans the generations, from show creator and choreographer Natasha Gilmore’s eight-month-old son Otis to a venerable dance legend in 83-year-old Diana PayneMyers. I meet Payne-Myers at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre café bar the day after Carmel’s final preview performance in Glasgow. Her agedefying energy is immediately infectious – she barely stops moving throughout the conversation and twice gets out of her chair to demonstrate dance steps. “I must just say, being in my ‘80s, there’s a responsibility to keep going, like the queen,” she says brightly.

The octogenarian actress and dancer plays the titular Carmel, whose family gathers at her surprise 80th birthday party for what becomes a microcosm of the highs and lows, laughs and cries and conflicts and resolutions that make up family life. “I’m the great-grandmother,” Payne-Myers explains, “and then there’s my son, his daughter, her boyfriend, and then this little chap who arrives who’s really a great-grandson. Then there’s all these family arguments and rows, and what they feel helps them survive is dancing.” A unique element of Carmel is its immersion in local communities – a different group of volunteer performers contribute to the show in every place it visits. Additionally, a video element of the performance created by award-winning filmmaker Rachel Davies integrates footage of members of the public discussing their families. “It’s a particular kind of story,” comments Payne-Myers, “a documentary in a way, with lots of filmed images and interviews about what matters to them in their lives and what keeps them going.” It’s the latest show in what has been a

60 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

Above Payne-Myers on top

remarkable career spanning six decades for Payne-Myers. Born in England to Scottish parents, she first began dancing and acting in pantomimes, before breaking into the popular post-war world of variety entertainment. As part of a sister act in the 1950s, she once opened for Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin for three weeks at the old Empire Theatre in Glasgow. “Jerry Lewis used to rehearse every minute of the day,” Payne-Myers reminisces. “The groupies – the young girls who rushed into Dean Martin’s dressing room every night,” she laughs to herself. “It was such an experience.” More recent exploits have included an appearance in DV8’s 2003 show Living Costs at Tate Modern, which saw an evidently unreserved Payne-Myers sit naked in the gallery next to a sign saying “please touch”. She also made her Fringe debut in 2007 in Muscular Memory Lane, a duet with choreographer Matthew Hawkins (who also stars in Carmel). It was family that appropriately enough prompted her return to doing what she loves after a long spell out of the profession. Payne-Myers’ grown-up son followed in his mum’s footsteps and became a dancer, helping her to reconnect with the dance community in her senior years. “That brought me back to full-time dancing,” she says. I ask her if she’s been struggling with the physical demands of the job but she shrugs off the question, explaining that the really hard part is the travelling to rehearsals and venues. “To get to places like Easterhouse, I had to get up at half past six and get to a station,” she says. “That’s hard, because there are no people at stations anymore. And as for putting money in the machine! I dread that, because I have to change my glasses.” What about the secret of her enduring stamina? “My father was a doctor, and when we were young we had to walk backwards halfway up hills to use a different set of muscles.” And with all the experience she’s had in art and in life, if there’s one piece of advice Payne-Myers could pass to her younger self it would be this: “Don’t be discouraged, and keep happy,” she says. “With Carmel, the dream is to keep on dancing – and that means be happy, love everything. It is about love – that’s what families are about.” f

A Conversation With Carmel @ St George’s West

19-28 Aug (not 24), 2:15pm, £12




 ‘The bravest, most exciting and moving Greek tragedy in years.’ SUNDAY TIMES ‘Utterly distinctive production.’ GUARDIAN ‘Remarkable… properly thrilling.’ TIMES

Pleasance Courtyard - 3-29 Aug 1.20pm (100 mins)  0131 556 6550



e g n i r F ’ s d i k e h t f o t Bes

0-4 year-olds

to three age the Kids section in ng di vi di be ill w st t-see This year, Fe sier to find the mus ea en ev it g in ak m 7+), arted... ranges (0-4, 4-7, d-up to get you st un ro a s e’ er H . ily m shows for your fa

Baby Loves Disco

For mini musos, both Baby Loves Singing, Dancing and You! (Augustine’s, George IV Bridge) and Monkey Music (Pleasance Courtyard) should strike all the right notes. Both shows give babies and toddlers the opportunity to play a variety of instruments and sing along with easy, catchy songs. If those musical tasters leave your kids wanting more, then there’s also Baby Loves Disco (Electric Circus, Market Street), which has sold out for the past two years. As you’d expect, there are a few old classics which are bound to please both kids and parents. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Venue

because their parents do, is not quite so clear. Art fans should head to Pop Up! The Amazing Adventures of Moo Dong (C, Chambers St), to see famous paintings come to life. The BIG Sing-a-long (Queens’s Hall, Clerk St) and Movin’ Melvin Brown (C eca, Edinburgh College of Art) should keep mini-musicians happy and Round the World and Back Again (A Brief and Inaccurate History of Everything) (Church Hill Theatre, Morningside Road) could be the most entertaining history lesson your kids have ever had. Other likely hits include the five-minute adaptation of Oliver Jeffers’ award-winning The Incredible Book Eating Boy (Pleasance Courtyard), The Velveteen Rabbit (C eca, Edinburgh Art College), and The Just So Stories (Pleasance Courtyard), which you are encouraged to watch while snuggled up with your kids in a sea of duvets and cushions.

The Incredible Book Eating Boy

Younger children are spoiled for choice at this year’s Fringe, with music, storytelling, theatre and puppetry


agic Porridge Pot (Merchants’ Hall, Hanover St) is back for a third year running. Spotlites’ unique brand of interactive theatre, with kids encouraged to get fully involved in the onstage action, is likely to prove as popular as ever. A production of The Enormous Turnip, by the same company, is also running at the Merchant Hall.

5-7 year-olds ore there is even m Unsurprisingly, ows for it comes to sh diversity when story and science, art, hi : ds ol ar ye 7 5all get a look in moonwalking


ook early if you want to see The Amazing Bubble Show (C too, St Columba’s by the Castle), because the interactive show—featuring everything from square bubbles to people inside bubbles—is likely to sell out fast. So too is Bagpuss (Assembly George Square), although whether that’s because the kids want tickets, or

7+ year-olds tempt to A few brave souls at with comedy entertain older kids is year’s Fringe performances at th


omedy Club 4 Kids (The Bongo Club, Holyrood Rd) is now in its seventh year and its enduring popularity provides some reassurance about the quality of the show. In contrast, James Campbell’s Comedy 4 Kids (Assembly George Square) is a brand new show but glowing reviews already suggest that this too will be a success. There is also some very high quality theatre,

62 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011


puppetry and storytelling on offer. The Chronicles of Bitter and Twisted (Assembly George Square) is a touching urban sequel to The Ugly Duckling, beautifully performed through puppetry. A newly reworked version of Macbeth (theSpaces at Surgeons Hall, Nicolson St) from the renowned Schools Shakespeare Festival makes for a passionate but accessible introduction to the Bard. The Panther’s Scream and Other Texas Tales (theSpaces on North Bridge, Carlton Hotel) is a compilation of

Texan folklore and legend, told mainly through the medium of storytelling, but enhanced by live music and shadow puppetry. For kids who like to get involved rather than simply sitting back and watching, there is no shortage of workshops: Flamenco for Kids (C eca, Edinburgh College of Art), Circus for Success (Bonaly Outdoor Centre) and Drama Workshops for 5-14s (The Merchants hall, Hanover St) from Spotlites Theatre Productions are the best on offer. Several shows in this age range attempt to keep both introverts and extroverts happy, providing some staged action and some hands-on interaction. Toybox (The Stand Comedy Club, York Place) is a heady combination of standup and magic; Things That Go… Bump Rattle Klunk Cackle Woo! (Greenside, Royal Terrace) brings Halloween to Edinburgh a few months early, with audience members invited to cast spells alongside mad scien-


s r e d a e R t a r Rug

45, Jeffrey St) promises music, dancing and puppets, while James and The Giant Peach and Seussical the Musical (both Pilrig Studio, Pilrig St) are both part of the excellent American High School Theatre Festival. On the flip side, there are also some performances of more modern children’s stories. Highlights include Hairy Maclary and Friends (Assembly, George Square), The Mole Who Knew it was None of his Business (C, Chambers St) and Stick Man Live on Stage (Udderbelly’s Pasture, Bristo Square), which received excellent reviews at the 2010 Fringe. If you’re looking for unusual shows to expose your children to new stories and ideas, you won’t be disappointed. The Adventurers Club – The Great Arctic Caper (Pleasance Courtyard) is about great explorers and their encounters with polar bears; Bubblewrap and Boxes (Gilded Balloon Teviot) won best family show at the Melbourne Fringe in 2009 and, with a set

consisting entirely of packaging, encourages kids to use their imagination; Lapin Wants Breakfast (Scottish Storytelling Centre, High Street) is a fun puppet show in both English and French; and Under The Baobab Tree (C too, St Columba’s by the Castle) is an enchanting introduction to African folk tales, using puppetry, masks, music and storytelling.

For more interactive and innovative theatre, some good options are: William (C eca, Edinburgh College of Art), where the audience are right at the heart of the story; Tim and Light (Pleasance Courtyard) which combines physical storytelling, puppetry and original music to tell a story of courage; A Stone’s Throw (Zoo Roxy, Roxburgh Place), about a girl’s quest to repair the shattered sun; and Baba Yaba (Duddingston Kirk Manse Garden), which invites audience members to undertake a musical journey through the beautiful gardens at Duddingston Kirk. There are plenty of new and original shows for 5-7-year-olds at this year’s Fringe, but that’s not to say that some classics don’t make the cut. There are

no less than three Lewis Carroll adaptations: Through The Looking Glass (theSpaces on North Bridge, Carlton Hotel), Alice’s Wonderland (C, Chambers St), which promises a dark show that is partdream, part-nightmare, and the excitingsounding Alicia en La Loteria (Venue 45, Jeffrey St) which gives the story a spicy, Latin American twist. Fans of myths and fairy tales are also in for a treat, with both Anderson 2011 (C eca, Edinburgh College of Art) and A Grimm Night for Hans Christian Andersen (Zoo Southside, Nicolson St) promising new takes on old stories and the return of Greek Myths for Kids (C eca, Edinburgh College of Art) which have earned five star reviews in previous years.

Tiernan Douieb: Comedy Club 4 Kids

lia Donaldson, ildren’s laureate Ju ch of lp he e th ith W ns run s to let “imaginatio the book festival aim s ht s picks the highlig wild”. Ruth Dawkin

Magic Porridge Pot

tists, witches and werewolves; Judgestars (Gilded Balloon Teviot) sees the collision of circus, dance and general silliness, but the kids are the final judges of who’s got talent; and Peter Pan – Learn to Fly (Out of the Blue Drill Hall, Dalmeny St) is an impressive aerial theatre performance with an optional workshop after the show. If you don’t want your kids to have a completely free ride over the summer holidays, there are a couple of shows that disguise education as entertainment. Amoeba to Zebra (The Counting House, West Nicolson St) is billed as a natural history musical, which tells the story of evolution in 14 songs. In Inventions Going Bang (Assembly George Square), meanwhile, Marty Jopson’s guide to inventions brings out the spectacular side of science.


Hairy McLary

he lovely people at the Edinburgh Book Festival have laid on an extensive programme of events for children – some of which are even free! Storytime is for all ages—although 3-10-year-olds will probably get the most out of it—and storytellers include Ron Fairweather, who likes to get everyone involved in a singalong; Fergus McNicol, who tells dark but funny tales of Auld Reekie; and Clare McNicol, who shares stories of seal people, wee folk and giants. Times and storytellers change daily with free tickets available from the box office on the day – check the programme for further details. Bookbugs caters for younger kids (0-3 years), and is run by Edinburgh City Libraries. Parents and children are encouraged to take part in rhymes and songs both traditional and new. Dates and times vary and free tickets can be booked in advance – again, check programme for further details. Newly appointed children’s laureate Julia Donaldson is the Book Festival’s guest selector for its kids’ programme, working alongside illustrator in residence Nick Sharratt. Most of the events that Donaldson is hosting are in the RBS Main Theatre so, although early booking is recommended, you do stand some chance of grabbing a seat. The opening event is Dragons and Fairies, which is best suited to 5-9-year-olds and features discussion and interaction with her recent picture books, Freddie and the Fairy, The Highway Rat, and Zog. Drawing Julia (Sun 21 Aug) is an interactive event with three of her illustrators—David Roberts, Axel Scheffler and Nick Sharratt—that aims to provide an insight into the way words and pictures work together. Quirks of the Teenage Mind (Wed 34 Aug) is an event for 12-15-year-olds that sees her discussing mental and emotional issues with authors Kate de Goldi and Ruth Eastham. There is no shortage of other big names at the Charlotte Square including Alexander McCall Smith, Arlene Phillips and Neil Gaiman to name just a few. But for something a little out of the ordinary you’d be well placed to check out the short programme of events focused on Finnish writing. There is Stories from Finland (Wed 17 Aug), featuring tales of fjords and forests (in English) with accompanying music. The following day, three of Finland’s leading contemporary novelists offer fascinating insight into their work, influences, and language in Beyond The Moomins (Thur 18 Aug). While that event is aimed at families with children aged seven and over it is, conveniently, repeated the next day (Fri 19 Aug) for an older audience.

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 63



s c i t i r c r u o t e e M ^ We’ve searched the land for the toughest, most demanding, and most unforgiving critics we could find. Aged between five and ten years old, our crack team of junior hacks will be scouring the Fringe this August for the best, and worst, that the Kids programme has to offer. Lest there be any doubt, here’s the scorecard that’ll have the finest children’s entertainers quaking in their clown shoes...



HHHHH Our super six are: Ross Salters (10) Burntisland Primary School Ben Salters (10) Burntisland Primary School Molly Robertson (8, but 9 in August!) Juniper Green Primary Anna Morrison (5) Juniper Green Primary


64 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

Amelie Harborow (5) Juniper Green Primary Eilidh Rutherford (8) Juniper Green Primary

HHHHH Photos: Claudine Quinn

rs o n i m d e i n a Accomp

friendly with family rs. Jam-packed . ds ki st of toddle r ie fo great city en the fuss a ev is y h sf rg ti bu sa Edin ething to perience there is som fit of her ex attractions, s the bene ve gi ns ki Ruth Daw Kids editor

Places to Eat Like any city, Edinburgh has its fair share of chain restaurants that cater to families: Pizza Express is probably the best, serving good food in a relaxed setting, and providing high chairs, a great value children’s menu, balloons and crayons to keep everyone happy (Branches on Lothian Road, North Bridge, George IV Bridge, Queensferry St, Holyrood Rd, Deanhaugh St). However, there is also an abundance of smaller, independent places that Kids Editor Ruth Dawkins, and Tom are great for families with young children. In the West End, the Traverse Bar Café (Cambridge St) provides an informal atmosphere and plenty of space for pushchairs. The Good Seed Bistro (Dalry Rd) and Bar Roma (Queensferry St) are both renowned for friendly staff, who positively welcome younger customers. In the New Town, Hendersons and Urban Angel (both Hanover St) both provide a great selection of healthy dishes with the emphasis on vegetarian, organic, locally sourced ingredients. Pushchair access is slightly tricky, but staff are always available to help with the steps. Joseph Pearce’s (Leith Walk) is another favourite, with a specially created children’s corner packed with wooden toys. On the Southside, Double Dutch (Marshall St), Peter’s Yard (Simpsons Loan) and the Scottish Storytelling Centre (Royal Mile) are all great places to stop for a coffee and a light snack. For a more substantial meal in a relaxed setting try the bistro at Hotel du Vin (Bristo Place), or head for some great Italian food at Papilio (Bruntsfield Place). Pushchairs will need to be folded at Papillio, but the warm welcome more than compensates.  

Places to Visit Edinburgh is well provided for in terms of the parks and playgrounds dotted around the city. The excellent Meadows Playground (corner of Buccleuch St and Melville Drive), has enough to amuse children of all ages. The recently refurbished playground at the west end of Princes St Gardens is also very popular. If you’re just looking for some green space to let your kids run around and burn off some energy, then Bruntsfield Links, Calton Hill Park, Inverleith Park and Leith Links are all good options. In the centre of town, The Museum of Childhood (Royal Mile), National Museum of Scotland (Chambers St) and Our Dynamic Earth (Holyrood Rd) are all good bets to keep kids happy on rainy days. And if you’ve had enough of the festival crowds and want to escape for a while, Gorgie City Farm, Portobello Beach and the Royal Botanic Gardens will all provide some quieter entertainment without breaking the bank.

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 65


Scotland’s Imagineer In anticipation of the world premiere performance of Fleck at the EIBF, Dan Heap talks to legendary Glaswegian Alasdair Gray about a long past and a promising future in art, politics and literature


nterviewing Alisdair Gray, the scion of the Scottish arts, is almost more challenging than getting to the end of one of his famously dense works. His answers are predictably fascinating but often longwinded, meandering on and off the point, and making sense of them is like interpreting one of his mythical paintings. One has to work for a while to piece together the fragments of meaning and even at the end you’re not sure whether you have the complete picture, or indeed whether he was ever telling you the whole story in the first place. Another difficulty is the way he flits between different personas: he has an endless repertoire of voices that change every few minutes, leaving you wondering whether you’ve been talking to one person, or several. Gray acknowledges that Lanark, his first and most acclaimed novel, has been highly influential: “I was very ambitious and suspected that if I managed to finish Lanark it would be eventually be one of the books that the world would not willingly let die”, but he’s evasive on the precise nature of this

influence. Readers, he says, can and should take from his work whatever they wish: “if you’ve written a book or painted a picture, there it is: it’s in the hands of other people now. “My job as a writer...and as a painter, is to interest and entertain by telling stories interestingly and inventively. The best stories, even those that on the surface appear to be sheer fantasies, are telling us important truths about how people live and what they take for granted. I’d be a very unconvincing writer and a poor painter if people didn’t encounter things that struck them as being true.” Further questions about the power of his work are met with the warning “I’m not going to give answers on an examination of myself,” but then immediately followed with a mischievous smile and one of the deep, rasping laughs he is so famous for. Gray’s laugh is unique: at regular intervals, almost regardless of the subject matter, it booms out of his chest and echoes around the room before dissipating into a breathless wheeze, a manifestation of the asthma that he has lived with for decades. It’s as

66 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

Right One of Gray’s Murals at Òran Mór, Glasgow

if in searching the recesses of his mind for the answer to your question, he has briefly encountered some other humorous thought dredged up from his memory. Not feeling the need to make you privy to the joke, he simply chuckles away to himself as you wait for him to get his breath back and move on to a new topic. A lifelong socialist and Scottish nationalist, Gray is far more forthcoming about discussing the link between politics and the arts. At the start of what becomes a grand tour through the history of 20th century British socialism, he reminds me in forceful terms that nationalism is, and always should be, a means to an end—democratic socialism in his opinion—not an end in itself. The constitutional change of Scottish withdrawal from the rest of the UK is merely, he says, a step towards a much deeper form of independence in which people are freer to live their lives: “It’s only when people have control over their own lives that they will act independently.”  Echoing one of Lanark’s most famous lines—”It is plain that the vaster the social unit, the less possible is true democracy”— he sees promise in Scotland being a small social democratic country along the lines of Sweden or Denmark, concluding that the best world would be “one in which there were no very big nations.” He spends much of our time together launching into what he freely acknowledges are rants. Straying to topics as diverse as nuclear weapons, university tuition fees and conceptual art, he only returns to earth with a loud “fuck” when the realisation that he is getting off the point finally hits home.  Unwittingly, though, these tangents do offer some answers to questions dodged in the first part of the interview: he reveals, for instance, that his motivations for writing and painting are driven by a feeling of dissatisfaction with the state of the world, the feeling that “this won’t do, this shouldn’t be happening – we must write, we must say something!”. It is easy to forget how long Gray spent as an artistic outsider. Lanark was thirty years in writing—some of that time spent as a “social security scrounger”—and he was in his late forties when his first novel was finally published. Although his murals adorn walls across Glasgow and his illustra-


An Artist’s artist

ds pay Three of Alasdair Gray’s colleagues and frien ers mast ern mod arts’ tish Scot the tribute to one of


“Alasdair Gray’s head contains multitudes: apocalyptic visions, humanity, trickery, political rage, as well as what seems like the entire histories of both Scotland and literature. He is a writer and artist deeply committed to making Scots see ourselves in new ways, clearing away the mental clutter of advertising and junk which surrounds us each day, in order to open new landscapes in the mind. Lanark, obviously, is his masterpiece. But his second novel 1982, Janine is not far behind it. Like much of Gray’s work, it’s a portrait of a lonely man clinging on, but because Gray goes about things with such a sense of fun and restlessness, we never feel oppressed by it. We are lucky to have Alasdair Gray among us, to cock a snook at our rulers and show us a way out through our own imaginations.”


tions the covers of countless books, his early paintings were branded “ugly and repulsive”, he tells me with another chuckle. Indeed, it is only recently that Gray has had gallery exhibitions, and he tells me with a note of incredulity in his voice about finally getting an art dealer who has been able to find buyers for his work. Even Fleck—the star-studded performance billed as the centrepiece of this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival—was rejected by a dozen theatres before being taken on by the EIBF. “I thought it was my best play, but I haven’t been able to get any theatre company to take it seriously“, he says. In the end though, he’s pleased by the way Fleck has come together and the fact that he has managed to gather together a rich cross-section of the Scottish arts scene to play many of the parts – particularly younger artists like writer Alan Bissett and Gray’s biographer Rodge Glass. In Lanark, a friend of main character Duncan Thaw asks: “Glasgow is a magnificent city. Why do we hardly ever notice

that?”, to which Thaw replies: “Because nobody imagines living here. If a city has not been used by an artist not even the inhabitants live there imaginatively.” That, it seems, is a neat summary of Gray’s contribution over the past 60 years: he has helped Scotland re-imagine itself, giving it the confidence that being a junior partner in the Union has sometimes sapped it of. In many ways, the programme of Graythemed events at the EIBF seems almost like a premature eulogy – friends and colleagues gathering for a mass thanksgiving for an extraordinary life. Seeing it this way, though, is a mistake. Even approaching the age of eighty, Gray exhibits a boundless energy that contradicts his tongue-in-cheek description of himself as “a fat, spectacled, balding, increasingly old Glasgow pedestrian”. There is, it seems, much more to come from the Strathclyde Michaelangelo. f

Alasdair Gray: A Life in Words and Pictures 11:30am, 30 Aug, £10

“I was first dropped into a world with Alasdair Gray in it about ten or eleven years ago, when he walked into a pub I was working in, ordered a gin and tonic, and then had to listen to me going on about his books until he could no longer bear it. It’s hard to say exactly what influence he’s had on my life, but perhaps the fact that I was his student at university, then his secretary, then his biographer; the fact that I followed him around for several years, heard his voice in my head in my sleep, watched him closely, performed alongside him (including early versions of Fleck) and, at the end of the process found myself slipping into impresisons of the impressions he slipped into; perhaps all this gives a sense of his place in my life. After playing the parts of God and Fleck when writing my biography, I’ve become really fond of the play, and am glad to see Gray attempting to shame Scottish theatre into performing it by getting so many writers to do a reading in this way. I hope Scottish theatre feels suitably ashamed of itself and makes the darn thing happen with actual actors. Soon. As for Alasdair’s work itself, Alasdair believes that all his work is about one single thing: democracy. And it is.”  


“Gray is in my estimation a great writer, perhaps the greatest living in this archipelago today. Others agree. I’ve only just now looked up ‘Lanark’, his magnum opus, on the Amazon. com website. The reader reviews fulsome. One said: ‘I owe my life to this book. In 1984 I was marooned in the Roehampton Limb-fitting Centre, the victim of a bizarre hit-and-run accident, whereby an out of control invalid carriage ran me over several times. The specialists all concurred that I would never walk again, even with the most advanced prostheses they had on offer. After reading Lanark by Alasdair Gray, such was my Apprehension of a New Jerusalem, arrived at by the author’s Fulsome Humanity, tempered by the Judiciousness of his Despair, and the Percipience of his Neo-Marxist Critique of the Established Authorities, that... I found myself growing, in a matter of days, two superb, reptilian nether limbs. These have not only served me better than my own human legs as a form of locomotion, they have also made me a Sexual Commodity much in demand on the burgeoning fetish scene of the South West London suburbs.’ Any encomium I could add to this would be worse than pathetic.”   For more tributes to Alasdair Gray, go to  

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 67


t n e t n i a m e h t Far from big names intuck look behind the Dan Heap and Anna Fe bunch k of the lesser-known pic eir th r fo F EIB e th at

The Buzz: “The Sentim entalists is a writer’s book: lyri cal, thoughtful, occasional ly—if fleetingly—bogged dow n by the intensity of its foc us but compulsively readable. An account of the fog of old age and the fog of war, this is a moving testament to the fragilit y of the stories we tell abo ut ourselves.” The Financial Tim es.

Winter Kathleen same Street

y: From Se Biograph spaper columns, it ew n to scripts at Winter e is little th seems ther hand to. This verher levels in can’t turn ken to new , dealing ta is y lit el sati ab n n A , novel interher debut subject of lt cu iffi d ibly ed cr with the in It has been Canada , being sexuality. ive at n er than most h l in for the yet who ore human n e, m successfu io n o at in in m an her no and wom ks set a small an o in lo m and with e e n o sh , al ze 2011 e of completely ian. d s si el is fe Orange Pri th n impact o he Guard world.” – T to make an o. c to ti an tl A e t’s always th words: “I her own thors e to write au In m y r an fo m ce z: “Not cult balan riffi e flame d te bl a in The Buz ta of ea p led issues h nest, unre o es h fr has e a at th have tack es ak in a way th tum Annabel t e dark en of a reality sexuality. m th o s m ew a d ch an : it es a structure e it interesting to a approach genJeffrey Eu esomeer in will mak at th u humour of gr e ep my read dlesex, th . I try to ke ew skill for p er as ad W re e ides’s Mid h  T this is a n in Banks’s n mind, but p of ness of Ia it to drow epic swee on’t want e d I th , d y an e or e, nge and , th m ra Fact do st e an rl th  O ce of oolf’s e e out the voi Virginia W icacy of Ursula K L rning in th intr oment bu ess. m kn e ar iv D al inventive of ] Left Hand Now.” [AF Guin’sThe -looking iet, inward ardqu a is is Th inw of a quiet, treatment n who is, in a way, so er p looking

Johanna Skibsrud Biography: Little kno wn poet whose debut nov el, The Sentimentalists—the sto ry of a young woman invest igating her Vietnam veteran fath er’s past—stunned observ ers by beating a number of big names to win the Giller Prize, Canada’s most prolific literary award, despite only hav ing a print-run of 800 copies.

ntly ambimanifest. Extravaga reference, in ing ng -ra tious, wide ir, the fla l rea and written with rned compariea y ead alr s ha ok bo d WG Sebald.” sons with Borges an r. The Observe

Benjamin Markovits Biography: Postgrad student to basketball pro to historical novelist seems an unlikely career move. Indeed the academically-minded Markovits found himself frustrated by his professional basketball career, finally committing once and for all to the written word with his debut novel The Syme Papers. His latest novel, Childish Loves, marks the end of his trilogy on Lord Byron, which was inspired in part by his postgraduate research. The Buzz: “A hypnotic, impeccably researched, and dazzling glimpse into a psyche which has fascinated the world for nearly 200 years – and will no doubt continue to do so.” The Independent. In his own words: “My experience playing basketball fed very naturally into my writing. I like to write about

Ida HattemerHiggins the gap between people’s view of themselves and what the world makes of them—I’m sympathetically on the side of our self-opinion—and all the guys I played with suffered in one way or another from that gap. They were very good at basketball; but they weren’t nearly good enough to satisfy their ambitions, and this seemed to me a pretty general human condi-

tion.” [AF]

68 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

In her own words: “My poetry is personal in a wa y that my fiction is not, even though The Sentimentalists, and much of my short fiction, is inspired either by my own exp eriences or those of people clos e to me. Poetry—in that it has the ability to zero in on par ticular images and ideas—allo ws a much more concentrat ed space for emotional reflection and hopefully, from that oft en deeply personal space, refraction. “ [DH]

a somewhat Biography: After mer-Higgins tte Ha , uth yo dic noma en years sev for rlin Be in settled e city Th nt. de stu as a literature piring setting proved to be an ins l The History for her debut nove tangled afal, rre su a y: of Histor ideas of th wi als fair which de personal and memory loss – both cultural. takes on a The Buzz: “Berlin y as the past hallucinatory qualit sent and pre the o int es rud int m is made zis Na of are htm the nig

s: “I pretty In her own word over this f sel my ed kill much e I had almost tim g lon book. For a d on seven live I no money at all. limited me ich wh , ek we a ros eu muesli. I did d an tils len of t to a die se I am cau be t no f sel this to my cause I was a masochist but be s working convinced that I wa l value and rea of ing eth on som pect I think I ros ret In ce. significan think often I e. ios was very grand manage the young writers only required to insane dedication by means of l ve no t write a firs ity, and it’s a that sort of grandios am totally honreal shame. But if I sometimes est with myself, the etimes som , ive sit po extremely gry an s me eti mixed and som ise, as the reception is no surpr as a deliberate, book was written hat tortured ew som , passionate o very als t bu , and awkward . “ [AF] urgent provocation


James Attlee Biography: An arts pub lishing executive turned wr iter, Attlee flits in between paeans to apparently unconnect ed subjects, but makes a success of doing so every time. N octurne—a magisterial acc ount of his quest to find com pletely undiluted moonlight, cov ering hundreds of years of his tory and every possible asp ect of humankind’s relationshi p with the moon—follows sim ilar accounts of American artists Gordon Matta-Clark and the Cowley Road area of Oxf ord.

The Buzz: “Nocturne becomes more than a series of loosely woven vignet tes. Attlee’s observations of the night sky take on a cum ulative weight, forming a kind of guide for good living on Earth: late night walks, the pleasu res of looking, the spectacul ar and forgotten thrills of nat ural phenomena, how we mig ht find profound pleasure in the here and now we have ove rlooked.” The Telegraph. In his own words: “Mo onlight has long been cele brated by writers, artists, poe ts and musicians for its ability to transform the natural world, evoke emotion and rev eal truths that remain hid den during the day. Now tha t more and more of us live in realms lit-up around the clock by artificial illumination, the light cast by our nearest nei ghbour has been largely robbed of its power. This is a fundam ental change in the experie nce of life on earth.” [DH]

Tony Cragg

30 July to 6 November 2011 Belford Road, Edinburgh £7/£5 With support from

Media partner

SCULPTURES AND DRAWINGS National Galleries of Scotland is a charity registered in Scotland (No. SC003728) Tony Cragg, Bent of Mind, © The Artist; photography © Charles Duprat

FRINGE FIRST WINNERS 2009 IRON SHOES in association with the National Theatre Studio & ScenePool

y Judith Schalansk

alansky was Biography: Sh tory and typoghis t ar in trained put to great e sh raphy – skills y acclaimed use in her criticall mote Islands. Re of las At , rk wo r first book to Though this is he English, she o int ed be translat in her native re uv has a larger oe e typographicGerman, from th e-letter Fraktur lov mcu almanu r first literary he to r Mon Amou Nicht Dir ht work, Blau Ste it You], which Su n’t es Do lue [B freedom also explores ideas of . las At r found in he German Arts The Buzz: “The sors a prize on sp n tio da Foun ards ‘the most rew ply which sim e year’; it is th of beautiful book

that the Athard to imagine for the prize se clo n ru as  w las 09. It is an 20 in n wo it when ject: atlas ob te isi qu utterly ex d bestiary, an er  mm as Wunderka d sea-blue an th bound in black clo ight orange, br ge ed efor its card, pulated by rare and its pages po t explorers.” – los d creatures an The Guardian ds: “I grew up In her own wor on the wrong – y an in East Germ ll. Before the Wa side of the Berlin meant most re he ing liv l, fel wall s out of reach. of the world wa to travel when te I was despera e only way I I was a girl, but th through the s wa pe ca es could The first time . as atl my pages of watching a er aft s I did this wa ary on the nt television docume I looked for . ds an Isl os ag Galap . Then I tried them in the atlas – the German me to find my ho blic. I realised Democratic Repu how small my e tim st fir e th for compared en wh s wa country world. My e th of t with the res the shores of domain ended at th seemingly inthe Baltic Sea, wi rriers separating ba le ab nt surmou de world.” [AF] tsi ou e me from th


by Gbolahan Obisesan

Underbelly Dairy Room 2:20pm

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 69


The Gruffalo’s Mum Anna Feintuck talks to new children’s laureate Julia Donaldson, and finds a writer with a clear understanding of what makes young people tick


riting can be quite a lonely process,” says recently anointed children’s laureate and Book Festival guest selector Julia Donaldson. But a glance at her programme of events might suggest otherwise: it is crammed with guests with whom she has collaborated, from the now-iconic Gruffalo illustrator Axel Scheffler to the “delightful” Lydia Monks, who will be drawing live for the audience. Donaldson is keen to move beyond her own speciality of cutesy rhyming picture books for the under-10s, and has also lined up teenage novelists Kate De Goldi and Ruth Eastham for an event, Quirks of the Teenage Mind, which she thinks “is likely to provoke some debate... I hope there’ll actually be some teenagers there, not just adults!” All in all, she has produced an impressively wide-ranging and appealing set of talks and performances for young (and old) lit fans to devour. Indeed, as children’s laureate, Donaldson sees one of her big challenges as that of making literature more accessible. Perhaps suprisingly, given the highly visual nature of her work, she is pushing for her books to be produced in braille— she talks about the “shortage of reading material there is for blind children”—and in more tactile formats. Living Paintings, for example, have produced a tactile version of The Gruffalo with raised illustrations so “children feel the mouse and the Gruffalo and the snake.” Donaldson feels there is yet more room for exciting developments in this field and is running an event during the Festival with the RNIB, where she hopes that there will be “a debate about the needs of those with hearing and visual impairment. I’ve actually written a book about a deaf fairy [Freddie and the Fairy] and that’s what I’ll be reading at the event... The book is going to be transcribed into braille for the occasion, so that’s something I’m really looking forward to; something really new and different.” Such a consideration of how her work will—or could be—be performed is clearly an important part of Donaldson’s writing process: “I’ve never once imagined anyone reading one of my books silently. When

70 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

I’ve got my draft version and I want to give it to my husband or sons to see how it sounds, I won’t get them to read it silently, I’ll get them to read it out loud to me, and if they stumble or the stress isn’t how I’d imagined I’ll take a close look at whatever line it is again. I very much feel that my writing is meant to be performed and I think that is what I enjoy most, thinking ‘how will I get this from page to stage?’. It’s really challenging and exciting.” Donaldson’s effervescent approach and catchy stories-cum-songs seem to coax even the most reticent children out of their shells. “It’s very interesting, sometimes” she says, “if I choose someone to take part, the teacher often says afterwards that they never would have expected them to get involved; that they’re normally very shy or very naughty. It’s surprising how children rise to the occasion and gain confidence through acting. And I think that some children think they don’t like books and words and pages and so on, and sometimes the meaning of certain stories can just come out more clearly when they are acted.” Herein, perhaps, lies the secret behind the enduring appeal of Donaldson’s work: an inherent understanding of what children want and need from literature. It is no surprise that as a child she was a voracious reader, devouring poetry, especially Lear and Carroll, who she feels shaped her writing. She was also a huge fan of Richmal Crompton’s William books: “William was heavily sarcastic, you know, he says ‘Hah! I like that!’. He’s very rhetorical and I was very impressed and would sort of emulate him when I had arguments with my parents.” Traces remain in Donaldson’s own work: her clever little mouse in The Gruffalo, for example, proves an able and witty adversary for much bigger foes. As for 2011’s newly-crowned children’s laureate, she seems about ready to take on anyone. f

RBS Children’s programme at the Book Festival

festmusic&cabaret LA VIE EN ROSE

picks of the festival

Christine Bovill: PIAF

ty of one-off u’ll miss plen Blink and yo st. Here u rgh this A gu bu in Ed in gigs the best... are some of


Acclaimed Scottish solo vocalist Christine Bovill has toured her homage to Edith Piaf worldwide – it even went down a storm in Piaf’s native Paris


Withered Hand


The National


There’s still no news of a follow-up to his sublime 2009 debut Good News, but now performing with a full band behind him, expect exciting new versions of Withered Hand’s— AKA Dan Wilson’s—all-too-brief back catalogue


A rare Scottish appearance for The National looks set to be a hot ticket at this year’s Edge Festival – even if the Corn Exchange show isn’t particularly conveniently located and a touch expensive


Morcheeba LIQUID ROOM, 19 AUG, £20

It’s Christmas come early for fans of late-’90s electronica as London trip-hop legends Morcheeba descend play one Edinburgh gig this August – now back with original vocalist Skye Edwards


Beardyman Unshaved ASSEMBLY HALL, 23-24 AUGUST, £15

The aptly-named Beardyman returns to the Fringe for more of his unique beat boxing cum improvisational comedy following big successes in Edinburgh last year


The Burns Unit THE QUEEN’S HALL, 24 AUG, £17

The Scots-Canadian supergroup take over the Queen’s Hall with their unique folk and indie rock stylings. Members include Scottish folk favourites King Creosote and Karine Polwart


Blazin’ Fiddles


Having played to almost every type of crowd, from town halls to the BBC Proms, Blazin’ Fiddles descend on the Fringe for just two nights of their signature Scottish tunes and fantastic stories


The Really Terrible Orchestra


This impeccably irreverent Fringe fixture have been making orchestral music accessible to the musicallychallenged for over fifteen years. Long may they continue

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 71


Willkommen, bienvenue, welcome back to cabaret Marcus Kernohan explores the massive appeal of cabaret as an art form in its own right


This page Le Gateau Chocolat Overleaf Lili La Scala

011 is, it would seem, the year of cabaret’s grand entrance onto the Edinburgh festival scene: an entrance without much fanfare, but suitably heralded by the appearance for the first time of a standalone cabaret section in the official Fringe programme. But while it might seem incongruous to consider a fin de siècle art form in terms of a debut, there is a logic there somewhere. Cabaret has always been present at the festivals, but it has tended to lurk in the shadows of its more entrenched cousins – music, theatre and comedy. So perhaps this year is about not so much arrival as revival; a sequined, sashaying stepping-out for a conceptual old dame of the arts. The official resurrection of the highcamp cabaret genre at this year’s festivals isn’t the genre most would easily recognise: no moon-eyed Liza Minnelli, fresh-faced Michael York or louche Joel Grey. In fact, for all that this may be the year of the cabaret, there is not one staging of the eponymous Kander and Ebb musical—which provides most casual viewers with their cultural reference point for the entire genre—to be had in Edinburgh this year. In the cabarets of 2011, the all-singing, all-dancing chorus lines are replaced by an eclectic array of mostly one-man shows promising roughly the same cocktail of songs, laughter and artistic introspection. Take Le Gateau Chocolat, for example. Generally, the sight of a large West African man decked out in pink wig and impossibly long fake eyelashes would suggest little more than a bog-standard drag act– a few pop standards, some innuendo-heavy punchlines and a garish ballgown. But there’s more to him than that. Indeed, it’s a characterisation the performer rejects outright: “I may be in drag, but I’m most definitely not a drag – or a drag queen,” he protests. Five years out of law school and teetering on the brink of his thirties, Le Gateau’s flamboyant persona is the result of a longstanding desire to sing and “the best nonchoice I ever made.” For him, “good cabaret encompasses comedy, music, theatre and more. Why go for one when you can have all?” 

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 73



Steve Ullathorne


A cabaret


Led by the inimitable Dillie Keane, the undisputed mavens of British cabaret bring a new show to this year’s Fringe in Cheap Flights. Now in their 27th performing year, and with great things promised from new soprano Sarah Louise Young, can Fascinating Aïda keep true to their long and cherished tradition of utterly irreverent comic musings and song? More importantly, can they rustle up another YouTube sensation?



Rich Dyson

Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley make their first appearance in Edinburgh as Evelyn Evelyn, “the world’s only conjoined singer-songwriter duo”. Starring as inseparable twin sisters Eva and Lyn (get it?), the duo’s show will offer an insight into the tragic life story of the ill-omened protagonists. Yes, it sounds like a new Tim Burton film, but given the performers—Palmer is one half of hipster favourites The Dresden Dolls—we’ll give it a shot.


THESPACES @ NORTH BRIDGE, 5-27 AUG, (NOT 7, 14, 21), £7-£9

Round two for probably the strangest cabaret act around as painted songstress Tricity Vogue drags her character The Blue Lady kicking and screaming back to the Fringe for a second year. Gimmicks aside, Vogue has earned a reputation as a cheeky, engaging and often risqué performer. Just don’t expect too much by way of a plot. [Marcus Kernohan]

festmusic&cabaret  This have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too attitude seems a common trait of the new wave of cabaret perfomers. As London chanteuse Lili La Scala puts it “it’s not just music, it’s not just theatre and it’s not just comedy. It can be all those art forms, and at the same time you can make the audience laugh and cry along with you. Personalities are bigger in cabaret, and there is just a little more sparkle.” Lili, who brings her new show Songs to Make You Smile to the Fringe in August, claims that the cabaret genre gives performers more artistic freedom and releases them from the constraints of audience expectations. “I find that with cabaret the audience is more relaxed and willing to go where you take them,” she says. “Billed as ‘comedy’ or ‘music’... people get awfully disappointed when their expectations aren’t met.” But as well as artistic freedom, Lili tells us, the cabaret loosens what she perceives as aesthetic constraints on the perfomer. “I get to wear more sparkles and higher heels than may be strictly appropriate for a strictly musical performance,” she says.

“I may be in drag, but I’m most definitely not a drag – or a drag queen” “Cabaret allows you to weave between genres with no explanation – from comedy to music and so on,” says Le Gateau, and that freedom “facilitates an honesty of character that an audience like to see. I like to achieve a deep level of intimacy with an audience, and having worked in opera, theatre and musical theatre, I’ve found that cabaret’s the best vehicle for this.” It is a strange dichotomy; the idea that an art form that so revels in its campness and dependent on outrageous stage personas could impart some truth about the performer, but Le Gateau Chocolat doesn’t see a contradiction here. His show is “an insight into the man behind the lycra, maquillage, wigs and outrageous costumes,” he says, but it’s not all about the visuals. The magic of cabaret performance, as he sees it, goes much deeper than that, with its roots in a “symbiotic relationship” between performer and audience and a desire to “laugh with the audience, cry with them, educate them [and] learn.” Not only that, but he suggests that alongside the spectacle of it all, in well-executed cabaret there is also a more nuanced sort of exposition at play. “I come open-hearted, ready to bare my soul, and if [the audience] are willing to be commensurately receptive, we’ll have an amazing show,” he says. “And if not, they’ll hopefully leave entertained, having heard some opera and good music.” The new generation of cabaret acts landing in Edinburgh this August might not fit neatly into traditional moulds, but they do not seem to have forgotten the essential spirit of escapism that lies at the heart of cabaret. Ultimately, claims Lili, the reason cabaret remains a treasured art form is because of its “wonderful nostalgia. It brings back to life the glorious colours of the Weimar Republic or world war two Paris,” she says, “or any other divine place that the performer fancies visiting.” f

Le Gateau Chocolat @ Assembly George Square

5-28 Aug (not 8, 15, 22), 9:15pm, £12-14

Lili La Scala: Songs to make you smile @ Assembly George Square

3-28 Aug (not 8, 15, 22), 5:00pm, £8.50-9.50

74 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011


ed Edinburgh Transform from July.. .

ust g u A o T ...

Bristo Square


The Scandinavian Rock Show That Reinvents A Cappella


edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 75



WITH FORK The Finnish group bringing the glam to a cappella tell Catherine Sylvain why they’re not just another covers band


asn’t a cappella once something just done in pricey Yank universities, alongside hazing and stealing social network formats? Now it seems it’s a slick, ritzy affair dominated by statuesque blondes — at least if Finnish company FORK are anything to go by. Blame Glee perhaps, for faintly ironic, perky reinterpretations of yesteryear’s pop that have lately reached a new credibility. But Pink Noise, the glam a cappella covers show by FORK, promises to surpass Glee’s tweens in cutting-edge pop-plundering performance. “When you say a cappella, people think certain things,” Mia Hafrén of the band tells me in clipped Scandinavian enunciation, “we want to make a cappella sexy and interesting. “What we do is we take the best or the funniest cover music from the ‘80s, ‘90s and today and make our own a cappella versions of them,” Hafrén continues modestly, “and the show is all about humour.” FORK, though, are far from a humorous side show. In their native Helsinki, the band members are celebrities, with vast gigs and four studio albums to their name.  “I would be very skeptical about going to see four people singing a cappella for 70 minutes,” member Jonte Ramsten concedes from atop a mountain, apparently the only place in the Finnish countryside with mobile signal. “We package it into something spectacular. I think people will be surprised.” FORK certainly promises to be a spectacle, taking many of the same visual cues as stadium pop; strobe lights, video and crucially a liberal amount of zany costumes. Fringed leather and corsets glisten alongside the peroxide mane of the band’s resident dreamboat, Kaspar Ramström. Can an a cappella band have groupies? “Hell yeah!” says Ramsten emphatically, “We have a lot of fans who follow us around, it’s excellent”. I hear a snatch in Ramsten’s

76 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

demeanour of the former theatre student’s camply-named on-stage persona. But don’t let pseudonyms like “Chiq LaDesire” or “Angel D’Ville” write FORK off as sub-Eurovision silliness. The band cranks a cappella covers to a level that might just show up its source materials. Where Britney requires a matrix of machinery and medication to perform ‘Toxic’, FORK eek out the squealing riff with just their vocal chords. Though strictly speaking all the noises they make are live, Pink Noise does have a sound technician and a vast mixing deck. To a stern barbershop fan this might be blasphemous, but Ramsten gives a compelling explanation: “The human voice is basically like a guitar. Whatever you’re playing —a classical guitar or Spanish guitar, blues or heavy metal—it’s still the same six metallic strings you play. For over half a century it’s been OK to make these strings sound differently, with different distortions and effects and stuff. And I think the human voice should be seen exactly the same way.”  Indeed, FORK’s four voices, two male and two female, with Anna Sunta completing the utensil analogy, make the electric guitar appear rather redundant. Is the show really all about humour? Their scarily accurate enactment of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’s’ guitar solo will have you chortling in awe. At the end of the prong though, FORK are really just looking to spread some Scandinavian cheer. “The audience will be smiling when they leave our show,” assures Hafrén. Despite performing together for an astonishing 15 years, this will be the first time FORK face a UK audience.“We’re so happy to come to Scotland because there are so many FORK virgins there. “We want them to laugh and scream and shout. At the end of the show we want them all to stand up on their feet and be happy.” And why is the show called Pink Noise? “That,” Hafrén explains, “is actually the sound you hear in the background when you turn on the TV and see snow.” Funny, I’d always thought that was white noise. FORK seem to hear the world through rosetinted headphones. But it’s refreshing. As pop gigs cross over to psuedo-performance art and the price of tickets seem to pretty much preclude the possibility of fireworks shooting out of someone’s breasts, FORK are a cynicism-pricking bargain. f

Pink Noise by FORK @ Assembly George Square

3–28 Aug (not 10, 17), 6:05pm, £15


Bringing back the darkness As Amnesty International return to Edinburgh with a focus on the Arab Spring revolutions, director Tim Supple has found himself and his cast on the sharp edge of forment in the region. Tom Godfrey uncovers the real Arabian nights


few hours before his show’s eighth performance at Toronto’s Luminato festival, Tim Supple is trying to explain to me, 6,000 miles away, why it’s so important to realise the difference between the Arabian Nights and the 1001 Nights. The Arabian Nights, it turns out, is the version we’re accustomed to. “It’s familiar from the panto, Disney, Hollywood, Indian cinema,” Supple says, panting a little as he scurries from a taxi to a meeting. Whether we picture Disney’s giant blue genie or an Ottoman palace guard with harem pants and a scimitar, it’s the Arabian Nights we’re thinking of. All those, Supple says, are “false images.” When the ancient stories of Shahrazad and the 1001 Nights were first recorded, in 9th century Baghdad, they were violent, bloody. You’d never learn from the Arabian Nights, for example, that Shahrazad was raped.   “These are stories from an oral tradition – of course they’re open to change, adaptation, addition. But you miss out the strong sexual content, the vivid and extreme violence and harshness which are both in the nature of folk stories and the nature of the times in which they emerged.” So Supple set out to stage a version of the Nights which captured their original bloody immediacy. He would omit both the sentiment and the scimitars. His actors would be the real deal, the best artists the fertile crescent could produce, while to get a sense of the hugeness of the text from which the work is drawn, the performance would be a marathon – five hours long, spread over two nights. 

3:45PM (4:45PM)

04-28 AUGUST 2011 (NOT 15)

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 77

TotallyTom_EdinburghFringe2011_PreviewGuideAdvert (W90mm x H54mm).indd 1

01/07/2011 19:27

Amnesty Internatiorninagl & the arab sp


mnesty International are not only back at the festival this year, but are back to celebrate 50 years of fighting for freedom around the world. Their programme, celebrating freedom of expression in the arts, focuses squarely on the upheaval in the Middle East-North Africa region. The Arab cast of 1001 Nights face a dilemma as they prepare for months, perhaps years, of touring. They have the privilege—or duty—of presenting a crucial element of their cultural heritage to audiences across the world, but the pride will be tempered by the knowledge that while in the West, they are missing a turning point in the history of their homelands. Even more frustrating is the fact that the play could not be performed in the many of the countries the stories come from. The Middle East’s more conservative regimes would censor the show for its sexual content – and for this production, censorship is not something worth considering. Many Middle Eastern artists can’t opt out of censorship, or even persecution: they are facts of life, to be either yielded to or challenged.  Ayat al-Qarmezi, a 20-year-old poet, student and activist from Bahrain’s majority Shi’ite population, took the latter option. She knew the likely consequences when she read out a poem critical of the king of Bahrain at a pro-reform rally in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, in February. “We are the people who will kill humiliation and assassinate misery,” she recited. “Don’t you hear their cries, don’t you hear their screams?”  She turned herself in to the authorities at the end of March when masked police threatened to kill her brothers. She wasn’t allowed to communicate with her family for a fortnight, and was allegedly tortured in captivity. On June 12 she was sentenced to a year in prison for “participating in illegal protests, disrupting public security and inciting hatred towards the regime.” Amnesty International made alQarmezi the focus of their Protect the Human campaign. As Fest went to print, al-Qarmezi was released along with 200 other activists, but only after signing a document promising not to repeat her offences. Her defiant response? “I am not afraid to speak out. I have something to say and I won’t be afraid of a paper I signed.” “These are stories from an oral tradition – of course they’re open to change, adaptation, addition. But you miss out the strong sexual content, the vivid and extreme violence and harshness”

78 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 78 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

festinternational  Just as in his previous offering, a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream set in India, this show would be performed in part in the language in which it was written. Above all, he would bring back the darkness. The rape scene is in; and while there are moments of black comedy, giant blue genies are most definitely out. The vision was to restore the original spirit of the Nights. But when Supple tells me how he pursued that vision, it’s clear that in some ways he’s an heir to the orientalists who helped give us such a wonky idea of the tales in the first place – especially where the question of recruitment was concerned. Generations ago, eager Europeans went to the exotic East and brought back the tales in the romantic, kohl-eyed form we recognise today; in the summer of 2009, the 21st century impresario went on a grand tour of the region, seeking out its artists, and inviting them to participate in theatrical workshops. “It wasn’t a holiday,” Supple says when I suggest to him that this trip sounds rather fun. “This was very hard work.” Hundreds of actors attended his workshops, across North Africa, in the Levant and the Gulf. Supple invited the ones that fit best back for another, longer workshop. And another. So it went on, for months, until his cast was ready: 19 actors and performers from around the Middle East.  It was a year before they all got down to work. Originally the rehearsals were planned for Cairo, but the cast was relocated to the ancient Moroccan city of Fes when revolution got in the way. Supple set his cast to poring over Hanan al-Shaykh’s new translation of the text in an effort to boil away their preconceived notions of the story until they were left with something more vital.  “What I was doing with actors was trying to look into what it’s about, and trying to find the form that it could exist in onstage.”  When I speak to Supple the show is nearing the end of its debut run. After a couple of slightly strained reviews (consensus: the first night’s great; so great, in fact, that bringing everybody back for a second is over-egging things a little) he’s keen to point out that his play is still evolving, still “a work in progress.”  The difficulty, he says, “is partly the scale. When you do something this ambitious, you do run a greater risk of making something that does not make simple sense.” There’s another risk, too: one which can’t afflict many theatremakers, but a familiar one for anybody who has travelled

1001 Nights director Tim Supple

in the Middle East. Visa trouble. Soon after my conversation with Supple, six members of Supple’s cast, mostly Syrians, were unable to get their passports stamped to let them into America. The next stage on the Nights’ journey—the Shakespeare Theatre in Chicago—fell through, leaving an uncomfortable six-week gap in the company’s touring calendar. 19 actors, three languages, six hours – and that’s not to mention the £1 million the show cost to produce: Supple’s method clearly isn’t to achieve beauty through pruning and paring down like mamy of his contemporaries. He would rather make something huge, messy and ultimately—touch wood—transcendent. He’s quick to stamp on my suggestion that the sheer logistical difficulty of putting together a show like this must have left him wondering now and then about taking on something easier next time. “No, no. It will be a major project. I don’t want to accept the fashionable idea that theatre is better when it’s small and neat.” “I want to keep exploring the...” He tails off for a moment, a second’s pause which becomes three seconds as his breath is transmitted across the Atlantic: “...exploring the large possibilities of the world.” f 1001 Nights , parts 1&2 @ Royal Lyceum Times and dates vary, see

Photo: stephen earnhart and tom Kincaid

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle By STephen earnharT and GreG pierCe Based on the novel By harUki MUrakaMi

Book your tickets now 0131 473 2000 Charity no. sC004694

World premiere a hypnotic blend of theatre and film brings Murakami’s cult classic novel to life. Saturday 20 – Wednesday 24 august 7.30pm Sunday 21 august 2.30pm king’s Theatre, edinburgh supported by The embassy of the United States of america, London supported by The Director’s Circle





f International Festival director Jonathan Mills wanted to create a melting pot of European and Asian culture this August, he could scarcely have chosen better than The Peony Pavilion. Performed by the National Ballet of China (NBC), this colourful full-length work blends both tradition and modernity, east and west. It also brings together one of China’s oldest creative talents, 16th century playwright Tang Xianzu, and one of its new rising stars, 33-year-old choreographer, Fei Bo. First performed in 1598 during the Ming dynasty, The Peony Pavilion is often referred to as the Chinese Romeo and Juliet – albeit with a happier ending than Shakespeare’s tragic romance. For centuries,

the epic work has been performed in the Chinese opera style of Kunqu, lasting a bottom-numbing 20 hours – although, to be fair, drifting in and out of the performance, eating and even chatting were all part of the audience experience. Happily for festival-goers, Fei has reduced The Peony Pavilion (or Mdántíng as it’s known in China) down to a far more manageable two-act ballet, lasting a little under two hours. It’s a considerable achievement, especially given this was Fei’s first attempt at a full-length ballet. He had been resident choreographer with NBC for five years when The Peony Pavilion premiered in 2008. The only new work the company presented that year, the pressure was on

80 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

One of the rising stars of Chinese ballet, 33-year-old Fei Bo was chosen to choreograph one of the Ming dynasty’s epic works, The Peony Pavillion, for his first fulllength work. He talks to Kelly Apter about his inspiration and innovation

for Fei—a relative unknown with only short works under his belt—to come up with the goods. “When I got the news that I needed to create this performance, I was a little bit nervous,” recalls Fei, “because I’d never choreographed a full-length ballet before – it all happened very suddenly for me. But I got a lot of inspiration from the dancers and through collaborating with the other artists who worked on the ballet. And while I was choreographing, I found out some new details about the story that I hadn’t known before, which was very interesting.” Based in Beijing, the National Ballet of China was founded in 1959 by a Russian ballet artist and today claims to “walk on

festinternational three legs”. This means the company of 80 dancers performs traditional 19th century European ballets like Swan Lake, Chinese works such as Raise the Red Lantern, and more modern works by choreographers such as William Forsythe. In Fei’s Peony Pavilion, however, all three legs are in motion at once. On the one hand, he has used choreography born out of western classical ballet, performed by a full corps de ballet against a score incorporating Debussy, Holst and Prokofiev. On the other, The Peony Pavilion is a work deeply entrenched in Chinese literary history. Meanwhile Fei himself, having trained in modern dance at the Beijing Dance Academy, is a choreographer keen to take ballet into the future. “Ballet is an artform with very strong standards and discipline and I hope that by using my own knowledge of other kinds of dance I can create new things for the ballet world,” he says. “I worked so hard to mix traditional Chinese movements and western ballet together, and I hope that through our work we can show The Peony Pavilion in a more contemporary way, and that audiences can find some modern themes and concepts in the ballet.” The story itself centres on Du Liniang, the teenage daughter of an important

official, who falls asleep by the eponymous pavilion and dreams of a young scholar, Liu Mengmei, whom she has never met. Upon waking, she attempts to find her dream lover, but when this proves impossible Du dies of a broken heart. Shakespeare would have left it there, but Tang Xianzu decided to give us a happy—if otherworldly—ending. The judge of the underworld steps in and decrees that Du and Liu should marry. Du plays a starring role in Liu’s dream, causing him to fall in love with her, and the young man’s quest to exhume his new love begins. It’s a lot more romantic than it sounds.

To shake things up a bit, Fei has added in two alter egos for Du, played by a flower goddess and a Kunqu opera singer. Lest there be any confusion over who is who, however, paramount importance was given to shaping each role into a recognisable character. “When I worked with the dancers, I told them how important it was to capture the characteristic of their roles,” says Fei, “and to make sure they were different from the other roles in the classical repertoire.” Working alongside Fei on the production are Academy Award-winning costume designer Emi Wada, whose vibrant yet delicate creations perfectly complement Michael Simon’s striking set design, and composer Guo Wenjing, whose original score—tinged with the aforementioned European references and played live by the National Ballet of China Symphony Orchestra—proved inspirational to Fei. “To tell the story of The Peony Pavilion using the language of ballet was a very good experience for me,” he says. “The melody was so beautiful, and I tried to translate that beauty into the ballet.” f Above NBC’s The Peony Pavillion Left Fei Bo

The Peony Pavillion @ Festival Theatre 13-15 Aug, 6:05pm, £12-£44



Stand up for

freedom 2011

NNING SELLOUT SHOW 14 YEARS RU Ed Byrne, Mark Watson, Russell Kane, Holly Walsh, David O’Doherty, Roisin Conaty – and many more… AMNESTY’S 50TH ANNIVERSARY YEAR Latest line up:

Tickets: / 0844 847 1639

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 81


c i s u m n i r u o t A world s flown in ector Jonathan Mills ha International Festival dir Martin gives a globe this year. Stevie artists from across the e of the big hitters whistle-stop tour of som

whom tra, for Orches cted all the UTOIT ia D h S lp E u e L Philad he has cond including CHAR for The n, urope, ductor is final seaso n o c ell as E certgebouw f w h s s a Chie , k n r a ar ma meric m’s Co as received this ye hestras in A ic, Amsterda eh H . ic rc n n o o o ntreal major ilharm el Philharm h the Mo r for P h n it li r w ra e lf Is B t a e c e h h e h t t ir o al, tra and s in tot was artistic d ar by the Orches n 40 award Ye it e o t h Du of t ha more t ny for whom ed Musician o m h a p n Sym was rs and uncil. 25 yea usic Co M n ia Canad

PHILIP GLA SS Despite having composed mor e than 20 oper lectures, wor kshops and so as for the wor lo keyboard pe ld’s leading th newbie. Havi eatres and pe rformances in ng worked w rforming ternationally ith Twyla Th the first compo , Philip Glass is or p, W oody Allen, Da ser to reach su an Edinburgh vid Bowie an ch a varied, m house, the co d Allen Ginsberg ulti-generatio ncert hall, the nal audience dance world posed numer simultaneously , Glass is and in film an ous operas, ei d popular mus ght symphon timpani and sa ic. In the last 20 in the opera ies, two piano xophone quar years he’s com concertos as tet; and soun well as concer dtracks to film tos for violin, s, including th piano, e classics of Je an Cocteau.

82 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

festinternational OLLI MU STONEN Passionat e, startlingl y original Mustonen and u pla performan ys each concert wit tterly transfixing, O lli h the fres ce. His Dec hness of a ca release and Alkan first of Prelude —a collectio s by n ceived both Sh of the Edison famously difficult w ostakovich the Best In orks—reAward an d Gramop strumenta hone Awar l Recordin boundaries d for g. Constan of his craf tly pushin t an his Edinbu g the rgh perform d a pianist since th e age of five ances prom capturing the innocen , ise to be a playful piec ce of child hood. e

XUEFEI YAN G Beijing-born an d UK-based, Xuefei Yang is one of the finest classica l guitarists in the world. From the Royal Albert Hall to the Lincoln Centre in New York, she has performed in over 40 coun tries as a solo ist and with world-renow ned orchestra s. Her debut albu m Romance de Amor won a gold disc in Hong Kong an d her second, North, was se 40 Degrees lected as Edito r’s Choice in Gr magazine. Mos amophone t recently she has recorded album with th a concerto e Barcelona Sy m phony Orches conducted by tra, Eiji Oue.

RAVI SHAN KAR At 91 years of age Ravi Shan kar is returnin to the Edinbu g rgh Festival fo r the first tim more 20 year e in s. A legendary sitarist, dubb godfather of ed “the world music” by the late Ge Harrison, Shan orge kar has writte n three concer for sitar and or tos chestra whilst ballets and fil from India, Ca ms nada, Europe an d the United have been giv States en the Shanka r treatment, in ing the multi cludaward-winni ng film Gandhi .

VALERY GE RGIEV The Grammy awarding-win ning conducto has won ever r ything from th e Dmitri Shostakovich Awar d to the rather impressivelytitled Knight of the Order of th e Dutch Lion. unstoppable to A sensitive bu ur de force, Ge t rgiev’s inspire and general di d leadership as rector of the M artistic ariinsky Thea performances tre has resulte across 45 coun d in tries, not to m claim. Gergiev ention univers is currently th al ace Principal Cond Symphony Or uctor of the Lo chestra and Th ndon e W as Artistic Dire orld Orchestra ctor of six mus of Peace, as w ell ic festivals, inclu White Nights ding the Stars Festival and Ne of the w Horizons Fe stival in St. Pe tersburg.

MYUNG WH UN CHUNG Remarkably, by the age of seven Myung already a pian was ist for the Seou l Philharmon had won seco ic and nd prize at th e Tchaikovsky competition in piano Moscow. From there he wen assist Carlo M t on to aria Giulini at the Los Ange harmonic and les Philtwo years lat er he became as conductor. He sociate was named Ar tist of the Year by The Associa 1991 tion of French Theatres and Critics, and ha Music s won a slew of awards.

AIRY DELIGHTS 2011 St Clements Wind Ensemble


Concerto for


Violoncello and wind band

Rhapsody No. 2



of the Gulda Cello Concerto in Scotland


arr. Schoenberg/Riehn: 3 Songs for Tenor from ʻSong of the Earthʼ



Soloists: Johannes Oesterlee (Cello) Edward Hughes (Tenor)

arr. J West: Hungarian

Canongate Kirk (Venue

60) Tickets £ 10/ £7 0131 226 0000, online or on the door 15 and 16 August 2011 – 5pm

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 83


directory A handy guide to Edinburgh beyond the festivals

top ten caf´es Marcella’s Italian Bakery 20A BROUGHAM PLACE, EH3 9JU 0131 622 5781

Fest has so often been the only party at Marcella’s and we’ve become convinced that the monosyllabic proprietor adopts that same policy towards customers as a newsagent towards schoolchildren. Only one table at a time may ever be occupied by us scamps, defiling his sugary creations with our cavity-riddled teeth. The tiny pastel blue bakery is aesthetically closer to Gomorrah than La Dolce Vita and it’s the savouries rather than the sweets which are the real draw. The lasagne in particular has inspired extensive literature in its praise. Though even if it doesn’t live up to the hype, you won’t be wincing at the bill; it’s a thrifty three-fifty a portion. [CS]



You can never replicate the experience of going to Anteaques, but you can certainly try. Just get hold of this inventory: an encyclopaedic tea menu; fairy-made bone china; steaming pits of sliced scones; fastidiously portioned fresh clotted cream; seasonally flavoured savarins; two servers who appear to visibly crack with teary regret when there are no free tables for you; 10,000 assorted knick-knacks including old fur coats, obscure butterfly specimens, ancient sabres and the occasional stuffed squirrel; an air of secrecy and exclusivity despite its location opposite Newington’s prime strip of bustling bargain stores. Oh, and the fact that tea for two with scones here will barely set you back a fiver. [CS]

Black Medicine


That you always get a biscuit with your coffee at Black Medicine shouldn’t solely recommend the café to you. But, like a restaurant that gives you chocolates with the bill, it’s the little things that inspire an enduring delight. “For me?” you’ll cry. Later, you’ll tell yourself it’s the magnificent polished wood decor, the softly spinning Tom Waits record or the fact that the barista actually remembers your name which keeps drawing you back - but it’ll be the biscuit. You didn’t ask for it, you didn’t expect it, yet there it was, refracting prisms of light from its sugar crystals in proud defiance of the fact that you get nothing for free. [CS]

Café Lucano

39 GEORGE IV BRIDGE, EH1 1EL 0131 225 6690

We don’t know if Pippa Middleton ever made it to Café Lucano during her time at Edinburgh University, but we like to think she’d come here to plump out her famous behind with carbs. It’s the sort of café-restaurantbar amalgam that means the elderly Italian gentlemen at table one may never be obliged to leave. The sublime pasta dishes washed down with alcoholic milkshakes certainly make leaving a minor challenge. Indeed, the staff will be startled if you do so in under two hours. Stay there long enough and the prices drop considerably while the pastries seem to expand. You’ll be royally voluptuous in no time. [CS]

Chocolate Soup

2 HUNTER SQUARE, EH1 1QW 0131 225 7669

Chocolate Soup may be the Snakes on a Plane of Edinburgh cafés, where the joy of its title arguably

84 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

The Elephant House




The spectre of JK Rowling is everywhere in The Elephant House, from the espresso machine steam to the window condensation. That this fairly inconspicuous café has witnessed the conjuring of so much magic (and money) is startling. Forget their shakes and cakes and feast off the weird paraphernalia of fandom that litter the table drawers. Napkins, loo-roll scraps and sweet wrappers provide the canvas for tourist-sketched graphs, plotting their distance travelled on one axis against how much Rowling changed their life on the other. Spell-binding. [CS]

Peter’s Yard Bakery


Chocolate Soup

eclipses the relative gaucheness of the experience. Located in the cabinet of curiosities that is Hunter Square, where the homeless and the street-performers merge indistinctly, its broad windows afford a perfect view of this theatre of life. Which is convenient, as you won’t be going anywhere after you’ve imbibed their signature vat of melted chocolate. [CS]

Like everything else Scandinavian, Peter’s Yard is the height of cool. Founded by two Swedish entrepreneurs off the back of a conversation about the poor quality of bread, they got master baker Jan Hedh to teach them his secrets and in 2007 brought them to the sleek new Quartermile development to be enjoyed by the legions of yummy mummies who flock there every day. Decked out all in glass, steel and exposed pipes but using recipes that have developed over hundreds of years, Peter’s Yard is cool and edgy, but the passion for lovingly crafted food and drink keeps its feet on the ground. [DH]


Café Lucano


You really do have to burrow into the bowels of a church to find a tranquil spot for tea on the Royal Mile nowadays. Still, the café at Saint Giles’

Forest Café

ed m r o f s n a r T h g r u b in Ed from July...

Snax makes the experience 15-17 WEST REGISTER ! overwhelmingly pleasER -H SOUP STREET, EH2 2AA; 118 y ant with some of the Caroline Mabe BUCCLEUCH STREET, finest nosh you’re ourite EH8 9NQ What’re your fav likely to find in gh? 0131 557 8688/ ur inb Ed in s fé ca 0131 662 9009 a room without e Stand earlier “When I played Th windows. Once of soup in wl bo a d ha I ar ye this rth Street which you’ve filled up If you’ve ever Urban Angel on Fo I nearly cried” s ou lici de on artisan quiche, wondered why half of was so Y’S you might as well everyone at the top of CAROLINE MABEENCE ONE MINUTE SILS take in the ornate Princes Street seems to be @ THE CAVE city church, seeing as shovelling greasy delights into you’re there. [CS] their mouths from polystyrene cartons, its because Snax is the best, Forest Café but also the smallest, greasy spoon 3 BRISTO PLACE, EH1 1EY in Edinburgh. Tucked away on a back 0131 220 4538 street, the friendly Snax girls are THEFOREST.ORG.UK ready at the crack of dawn to serve This year, the fabled Forest Café was up great value cooked breakfasts to faced with the very real threat of commuters and bleary-eyed late night closure prompting a lively campaign to festival-goers. The food is so good that save it. Thankfully, the Forest has now the clientele is usually happy to sit on sailed to safer waters and all at Fest the pavement outside to wolf down are heartily glad of that. But however the fry-ups, chilli, macaroni cheese strongly we, or you, feel about it, or and burgers. And it also seems to be any human rights issue, campaign the only place in Edinburgh you can or band, the staff at the Forest feel get old-fashioned favourites like ham, stronger. Art gallery, music venue, egg and chips that hit the spot when café, nightclub, aftershow hang-out: nothing else will. The Buccleuch Street the Forest absorbs folk like grease branch is a bigger and less rough-andto a dreadlock. An Edinburgh­—and a ready affair, just down the street from Fringe—institution. [CS] Bristo square. [DH]

George Square august!

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 85

festdirectory The Pear Tree House

top ten bars

38 WEST NICOLSON STREET, EH8 9DD 0131 667 7533

It’s hard to argue with a beer garden this size. Heck, it’s hard to argue in a beer garden this size, especially as you’ll most likely be in such a Keatsian swoon of fine wine and flowers. Well, more hot cobblestones and cider but the poetry’s still there. The vast courtyard, spitting distance from key Fringe venues, is lined like a school cafeteria with picnic tables. If this makes you crave Dairylea Dunkers, smuggling some contraband in is tempting as The Pear Tree doesn’t offer much to soak up the bottled brews. The slew of students also adds to the school trip vibe; that is, if your school trips were tipsy with a chance of showers. [CS]


26 BROUGHAM STREET, EH3 9JH 0131 221 9997

If Buckfast is really made by monks then they must be the ecclesiastical dregs compared with the Vatican monks that brew the ale at The Cloisters. A former church that saw God escorted out for demanding a VK Blue, there’s an air of reverence in the way the bar staff treat the vast selection of local and obscure beers. Don’t snigger when you order a Badger’s Arse ale and you won’t be forced to confess yours is normally a lukewarm Carling on pound-apint night. Apparently there’s some smashing food as well if you’re not too full of the holy spirit, you heathen you. [CS]

The Royal Oak


The Royal Oak is so Wicker Manweird and provincial you’ll soon forget Tesco Metro touts three shades of hummus some hundred metres away. There’s a nightly array of live folk music delivered on tap from the Highlands, but get there early lest you want to be heckled by the locals for missing out on the precious few seating options in this tiny pub. Once you’re safely on a stool, though, mind the tourists blocking your view of the ginger fox with the fiddle. You’ll get plenty of chances to see the action, though: extended opening hours for the Fringe will see you stumbling out at 4am, no less. [CS]

Halfway House

The Halfway House



It’s not unheard of to disembark a train at Waverley, have every intention of making it sober to the Royal Mile and finding yourself stuck in The Halfway House, a tiny train cabin of a pub perched in an intestinal alley between two rivers of human traffic. It aspires to the womb in terms of cosiness, and you may want to stay there all Fringe before conveniently easing yourself down the vertiginous Fleshmarket Close onto your train home, refreshed from fine ale and intimate conversation. [CS]

An attested love of the Coen brothers can fulfil your Freudian desire to just drink boozy milkshakes of an eve at Lebowskis. Ostensibly inspired by their consumption in The Big Lebowski, the Tollcross bar and sometime venue lists an impressive range of White Russians all wittily dubbed but, let’s face it, thinly differentiated as “more milkshakey” or “less milkshakey”. Yummy. Still, you may feel inclined to act grownup and banter with the barstaff, in which case a helpful phrase to learn is, “Jeff Bridges... what a dude” while requesting extra whip and sprinkles on a fourth White Russian. Slick black panelling and leather diner-style booths add a much needed air of sophistication to your frothy fun. [CS]

The Auld Toll

37-39 LEVEN STREET, EH3 9LH 0131 229 5143

Remember in Withnail & I when Withnail demands a banging jukebox to brighten up the poky tea shop?

18 MORRISON STREET, EH3 8BJ 0131 466 1779

The Pear Tree

The Auld Toll makes the dream real, with staggeringly anachronistic decor, pre-internet era locals, and a box of tunes that’s edgier than a dodecahedron. Seemingly updated hourly, you’ll be spilling your silvers into this mod machine in preference to the rather minimal range of beer and spirits on offer behind the bar. Once vaguely themed around a playhouse foyer thanks to its proximity to the King’s Theatre, the red velvet upholstering in The Auld Toll has long since faded, whereas the cheerful bonhomie, thankfully hasn’t. [CS]

/++ 38 $

produced by

THE EDINBURGH PLAYHOUSE Home to the biggest names in comedy

The best new comedy, cabaret & party

night on the Fringe!

Hawke & Hunter Green Room: 12 Picardy Place 11.15pm ‘til late 5-29 Aug for details & daily line-up 86 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

festdirectory BrewDog Bar



143 COWGATE, EH1 1JS 0131 220 6517

Scotland’s biggest independent brewery has a penchant for ridiculous adjectives. In an attempt to drive home its slogan, “Beer for Punks”, BrewDog describes its unusual suds with words like “progressive”, “postmodern” and “iconoclastic”. We prefer “tasty”, or whatever satisfied grunt escapes when its undeniably delicious concoctions hit our palates. New for 2011, its second-ever bar adopts an urban, shabby-chic look and offers ownbrand recipes that prove there’s substance behind the marketing. As proof of its unconventional A NIGHT ON THE TILES approach, consider the eye-wateringly Bryony Kimmings powerful Skin the Bismarck, an IPA weighing in at a weapons-grade 41 per cent drink? Best spot for a ABV. In the Cowgate premises you’re e. to the Forest Fring “ I generally head more likely to knock back slightly more s mood I’ll sit in ou iev sch mi a in If I am pedestrian options like 5AM Saint and th some cans!” the meadows wi Trashy Blonde, but these too are certainly GS: BRYONY KIMMIN interesting enough to warrant a visit. [LB] 7 DAY DRUNK @ ASSEMBLY GEORGE SQUARE

The Canny Man’s

237 MORNINGSIDE ROAD, EH10 4QU 0131 447 1484

The Canny Man’s unique decor and list of house rules are reminiscent of a visit to an eccentric wealthy relative. Don’t chuckle at the hoards of memorabilia, resist checking your mobile and you’ll eventually get a juicy pay-off. Though at The Canny Man’s it’ll be sooner rather than later with an overly-coddled whisky and some tasty buffet food. It’s worth penetrating deepest Morningside just to gain an audience with the drinking world’s answer to Bernard from Black Books, the pub’s famously unfriendly and suspicious proprietor. Even if you offend his edicts you’ll at least gain the kudos of being ejected from a Scottish pub... though you needn’t add it was for texting your mum. [CS]

The Last Drop

74-78 GRASSMARKET, EH1 2JR 0131 225 4851

Tourist trap location, macabre backstory, plentiful haggis; The Last Drop fulfills all your out-of-town pal’s criteria for an authentic Edinburgh experience he can write his ma about. Don’t let its bearings next to Grassmarket’s

preeminent hen-night supply shop put you off, this place is a treat even when sober. Perhaps it leans on its grisly history a bit too much (it’s supposedly built on the site of a hangman’s gallows) but the prime outdoor seating can’t be beat and the beer prices, given its location, are pretty respectable. Once he’s polished off his neeps and tatties, your friend can finally graduate to a bottle of Buckie outside of Scotmid. [CS]

The Penny Black

17 WEST REGISTER STREET, EH2 2AA 0131 556 1106

In these trying times, who can really smile through the hours between 5am and midday sober? Not us. Thankfully, these also coincide with the opening hours at The Penny Black. This musty gem of New Town provides a drinking experience that can be blearily surreal or discomfortingly menacing depending on whether it’s your last drink of the night or first of the day. The Eumaeus episode of Ulysses is perhaps the most accurate touchstone to any time spent here; a curious confab of nubile clubbers and night-shift workers, irreconcilable with the world outside. Even making it there feels like a laudable achievement. [CS]

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 87

festdirectory top ten restaurants

Urban Angel

121 HANOVER STREET, EH2 1DJ 0131 225 6215 1 FORTH STREET, EH1 2JS 0131 556 6323 URBAN-ANGEL.CO.UK

Mosque Kitchen


Next to Edinburgh University’s George Square, Mosque Kitchen has built a solid reputation for selling affordable (lunch will set you back £5) but very tasty curries all year round. In the open air nestled behind Edinburgh Central Mosque, it is one of Edinburgh’s most recognisable eateries and while the menu may not be as substantial as other Indian restaurants, Mosque Kitchen’s emphasis is on providing inexpensive and authentic Indian food to the masses. Since last year, Mosque have opened a takeaway just around the corner offering a wider array of food to go. [AT]

Mosque Kitchen Keith D

The Outsider


15/16 GEORGE IV BRIDGE, EH1 1EE 0131 226 3131

A feature of the Edinburgh restaurant scene since 2002, The Outsider is so cool that it doesn’t have its own website. But despite this lack of online presence, it’s still considered to be one of the best restaurants in Edinburgh. The menu is quirky, unusual but absolutely delicious. Diners can choose from a selection of smaller, tapas-style meals to share or opt for more substantial mains and fish dishes, such as the roast monkfish – a speciality. This two-level restaurant also boasts spectacular views of the castle. Sexy, if a little on the expensive side, this is one Edinburgh dining experience that you don’t want to miss. [AT]

The New York Steam Packet

Illegal Jack’s

88 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

Tucked in a recess behind Rose Street, this well-respected allAmerican BYOB diner in the heart of Edinburgh’s shopping district is a small, but very intimate restaurant that’s something of a badly kept secret amongst Edinburgh’s locals. Founded in 1970, rock groups such as the Eagles were rumoured to have dined here back in the day. Costing £15.95 for a three-course meal, diners can choose from burgers, sirloin steaks, salmon steak and various starters such as mussels and soups, and finish off their evening with the Dime Bar cake. Y’all have a nice day now. [AT]

OK, so it’s not strictly a restaurant, more of a café/deli, but Urban Angel is still a great place to go for a quick bite or even a full meal. Urban Angel prides itself on only using fresh, high quality and most importantly, local ingredients in all their dishes. While it is a little on the pricey side, Urban Angel’s menu is filling and delicious. Grab something light for brunch, such as eggs benedict (£7.90) or something a little more substantial such as the Urban Angel Burger (£11.90). The decor is brilliantly white, the atmosphere informal, so just wander in, pull up a chair and order whatever takes your fancy. [AT]

Illegal Jack’s South West Grill

113-117 LOTHIAN ROAD, EH3 9AN 0131 622 7499 ILLEGALJACKS.CO.UK

A great weekend haunt, this relatively new restaurant is on the site of the former Pizza Hut on Lothian Road. Thankfully, there’s nothing soulless or corporate about Illegal Jack’s extensive range of Mexican hybrid cuisine. Diners can choose from a burrito, taco or quesadilla, and then choose their own fillings from chicken, to vegetables, to haggis, before adding either refried or black beans and finishing it off with salsa. All this starts at just £6.50. Check their website for special events, such as their famous “Free Burrito Day”, which was a big success last year. [AT]

festdirectory David Bann

56-58 ST MARY’S STREET, EH1 1SX 0131 556 5888 DAVIDBANN.COM

Pink Olive

Chop Chop

248 MORRISON STREET, EH3 8DT 0131 221 1155 76 COMMERCIAL STREET, EH6 6LX 0131 553 1818 CHOP-CHOP.CO.UK

Whether you’re a vegetarian, or you just fancy a bit of a change, David Bann is a classy, decadent establishment that offers the very best in contemporary vegetarian dining. Hidden on St Mary’s Street, just below The Pleasance, the menu combines traditional vegetarian favourites such as homemade hummus and olives (both £3.60) with some more Easternthemed mains, such as the organic udon noodles with ginger red pepper sauce and home smoked tofu (£10.75). Night owl veggies be warned – the restaurant, like many others during the Fringe, doesn’t take bookings, so turn up as early as possible or you’ll miss out on a truly great wee restaurant. [AT]

Probably one of Edinburgh’s most Vittoria famous Chinese restaurants (they 113 BRUNSWICK STREET, EH7 5HR were on The F Word a few years ago) 0131 556 6171 Chop Chop opened in Haymarket in 19 GEORGE IV BRIDGE, EH1 1EN 2006 and won the title of Best Chinese 0131 225 1740 Restaurant in Scotland just two years VITTORIARESTAURANT.COM later. Chop Chop’s founder, Jian Wang, is A familiar sight on Leith Walk since an expert dumplingthe 1970s, the modern day Vittoria maker, so these restaurant has recently expanded must be sampled into the Old Town with its on any visit to SPICE UP YOUR LIFE new branch, Vittoria on the restaurant. hli Hardeep Singh Ko the Bridge. FamilyAnd as they only a t to What’s the secre cost £4.40 for owned and family? really great curry run, both restaurants eight tender pork od go a d follow specialise in creating and chive dump“Have patience an ke ma secret is to recipe. The true hearty, traditional lings, who can Tweak, n. ow ur yo rry the cu Italian dishes from say no? If you’re t.” en rim pe ex , ge chan a little low on scratch. Each offers H WIT LA SA MA CHAT KOHLI all-day breakfasts cash, their Business HARDEEP SINGH ON @ GILDED BALLO Lunch Special (£7.50) (until 5pm) as well as TEVIOT specialised vegetarian and consists of your choice children’s menus, meaning they of soup, dumplings and two can cater for just about every cusside dishes and is a lot more filling than tomer. Try something different you’d expect it to be. [AT]



The smaller and much more intimate descendent of Khushi’s landmark restaurant, Khushi’s Diner—and the name Khushi—has become synonymous with fine Indian cuisine in the city. The oldest Indian restaurant in Edinburgh, there has been a Khushi’s in various locations around the city since the 1940s. Forced to move to West Nicolson Street after a fire gutted their restaurant on Victoria Street, Khushi’s Diner is just like Khushi’s used to be: friendly, warm and it’s also BYOB heaven thanks to their lack of corkage charges.. Meal deals start at just £5.95, but be sure to book a table well in advance of the festival as the restaurant gets very busy during the Fringe, being situated as it is just around the corner from Bristo Square. Get there late and you can expect to queue. [AT]

—such as their Filetto Balsamico (beautifully grilled steak, £21.45)— but just make sure you leave enough room for their awesome ice-cream sundaes, including their indulgent knickerbocker glory (£4.95). [AT]

Pink Olive


Opened in 2008, this popular (and very pink) bistro is a close neighbour of Mosque Kitchen


The Frequency D’ici & New Wolsey Theatre


Khushi’s Diner

and The Pear Tree, and and in just three years this little restaurant has earned enough clout with the locals to also be recognised as a leading restaurant in the city. With the special set lunch menu costing just £7.95 for two courses and £9.95 for three courses, and the evening menu priced just shy of £18 for two courses, this restaurant offer diners good value for money and a widely varied selection. The goulash, roast coley fillet and crispy pork belly are all stand-out dishes. [AT]








Pleasance Courtyard 3 -‐ 28 Aug, 13.10

From the company behind 2008’s Fringe First winning Paperweight

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 89

w w w.a lzhe

imerst he m

us ic al .c om

Alzheimer’s the Musical Award g Winnin y Comed

A night to remember!

festdirectory top five apps & websites

‘Hilarious!’ The Age 


Are you heading to the festival alone but looking for a new friend to accompany you to shows? Or perhaps you’re hoping that a summertime Edinburgh will be the place to find that special someone. Well, Fest-a-Friend provides Whether you’re a Fringe novice the opportunity for both. or a hardened This easy to use website OK, COMPUTER ns festival veteran, allows you to filter va ll-E ba Kim Peter through potential this helpful little ited budget companions by website contains You have an unlim t? would you adap indicating what all the informawhat other game g ’s LA Noire adaptin tion you need to sort of shows “I can see Rockstar game stage as this is a you’re interested make the most very well to the rs, cte ara ch its in ily that invests heav in and whether of your time in an me d an g tainin and is full of enter Edinburgh. Fringe you’re looking for s.� ingful interaction a “romantic drink Guru’s planning D MONKEY ISLAN THE SECRET OF section helps you afterwards� or “just LL @ SURGEONS HA conversation�. Bear in decide when to come to Edinburgh and how to mind that Fest-a-Friend has no built-in screening process, so use get there, while on the “Edinburgh your instincts and discretion. PrecauHow-to� page there are tips for how to select shows, manage your tions aside though, Fest-a-Friend is a great way to meet interesting people time and navigate a maze of box offices. Fringe Guru also provides and to enter into the sociable spirit of the Fringe. [PB] a ticket alert facility that lets you know when seats for key shows go Edfest iPhone App on sale, and with all these features EDINBURGHFESTIVALS.CO.UK/IPHONE packed into an accompanying smartphone app called iFringe, It may only be available for the iPhone, there’s no excuse for missing your chance. [PB] but the official Edinburgh Festival app is one mean digital toolkit. The Edfest iPhone app allows you to buy tickets, read reviews and search for shows through a variety of different filters, all whilst wandering through the streets REALTIME TWITTER-BASED of the capital (although good luck with FRINGE REVIEW SERVICE that level of multi-tasking). Perhaps most usefully, the Edfest iPhone app Ed Twinge has a GPS function with which you EDTWINGE.COM, @EDTWINGE can navigate your way to the door of a venue without unNevermind Twitter’s supposed role furling an unwieldy in toppling Middle Eastern regimes. Here in Edinburgh, the site’s mob-rule dog-eared map. dynamic serves a far more important For those less accustomed to the function: keeping you abreast of the wonders of GPS, buzz. This service uses a frighteningly technical algorithm to boil down the app can also tens of thousands of tweets into a supply simple written inso-called karma rating, gauging the structions for quantity and positivity of punters’ how to reach a chosen 140-character reviews. Snooty critics might have trashed a popular show, destination. Easy. [PB] but with Ed Twinge public opinion is Don’t forget to visit the fest website at! king. [LB]

Fringe Guru

August 3–29 @ 5pm Don’t forget to book! 0131 622 6552

Gilded Balloon Teviot, Bristo Square





  #(/5(  "+($88$25* 

     (,4+0/4+(2,/*(540)4+(-5( 2,--$--5* 

 $.  1. 060)),&(

  #(/5(   "+($88$25* 

      !454+%(243 $2,3++52&+5* 


  #(/5(  !454+%(243 $2,3++52&+5* 

     2(3(/4('%74+(,470)',/%52*+ 53,&!&+00-5* 


90 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011


festdirectory Bus Tracker

. .. y b d e d n e m m o c e r as




NICHOLAS PARSONS “I saw Daniel Sloss the first year that he appeared at the Festival and was so taken with his raw talent that I knew he was going to be a big star. He has gone from strength to strength ever since. I’ve even mentioned him in my memoirs.�

 RUBY WAX “I am the only person I know performing at this year’s fringe. The person I am most looking forward to seeing is myself.  If I could be in any audience I would be in mine. This is the finest work Ruby Wax has ever done. An hour of pure hilarity.� With such a wealth of activities to cram into each day, a reliable and accessible bus service is an absolute must. Bus Tracker can save you valuable time by allowing you to check real-time departures at any bus stop in the city. If you need to make a snap decision about an evening’s entertainment or rush to claim a free theatre ticket, the Bus Tracker service is an indispensable tool. It’s available online and as an app for iPhones, Android phones and WAP-enabled mobiles, making it by far the most versatile electronic tool for festival-goers. Whether you’re near your laptop or on the move, Bus Tracker allows you to make the best of Edinburgh’s public transport and limit time spent walking (or running) between different venues. [PB]

PAUL SINHA “I prefer my fringe shows to be in intimate venues. I enjoy slightly shambolic lyrical storytelling and I like my comedians to be not quite famous yet. I love show titles named after pop songs that I adore. Therefore Elis James’ 2011 show, Do You Remember the First Time?, is undoubtedly on my “must see� list.�


ÂŁ7 ÂŁ28 to

the show fromus w e n d n irc Bra reatest C World’s G cts for 2011 EW a Amazing N seen in the UK re never befo ED

the d on Base of the d legen irs ha 12 c









TUE 9 7.30pm WED 10, SUN 14 & SUN 21 2pm & 5pm THU 11 until TUE 16 (not Sun 14) & SAT 20 3pm & 8pm (no show Wed 17) THU 18 & FRI 19 5pm & 8pm



9  21


0844 8565555


FRINGE BOX OFFICE 0131 226 0000

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 91

festdirectory BEYOND THE FRINGE Arthur’s Seat


No trip to Edinburgh would be complete without a trek up Edinburgh’s extinct volcano. A sedate walk as opposed to a drunken scramble is advisable, though the first-year Edinburgh University students who live in the nearby halls of residence may disagree. A nip of whisky may be a good idea once you’ve ascended, as the strong winds at the top can be invigorating (i.e. freezing), even in summer. At 251 metres high, this Goliath dominates the Edinburgh skyline and can seem a formidable opponent from a distance. In reality, it makes for a relatively easy walk and the panoramic views of Edinburgh visible from its peak are well worth half an hour of minor discomfort. [MM]

Holyrood Palace


Whether you’re a monarchist or republican, the official Scottish residence of Her Maj is well worth a visit. Situated at the bottom of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and set against the spectacular backdrop of Arthur’s Seat, this baroque palace is overflowing with royal history. One of its most famous residents was Mary Queen of Scots and the Palace was where many of the controversies that characterised her reign played out, including the brutal killing of her personal secretary by her jealous




Berto Garcia

husband. Aside from visiting The Royal Apartments or having a stroll around the palace’s gardens you can also visit The Queen’s Gallery which hosts a programme of changing exhibitions from the Royal Collection. [MM]


Encompassing four locations and an impressive permanent collection, the National Galleries of Scotland are one of Edinburgh’s chief artistic attractions. Aside from the Titians, works worthy of particular mention include the exquisite An Old Woman Cooking Eggs by Diego Velazquez, a superb self-portrait painted by Rembrandt at the age of 51 and Paul Gauguin’s vibrant celestial vision Jacob Wrestling with the Angel. The galleries are spread over four sites, with the National Gallery (pictured) situated just off Princes Street directly in front of The Mound, the National Portrait Gallery (currently closed for renovation work) on Queen Street and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, housed in two buildings off Belford Road. The current temporary exhibitions are August Sander, an exposition of the great 20th century German photographer’s work; The Queen Art and Image, a show which explores the changing face of royal photography; and Jeff Koons, a display of the artist’s curious brand of kitsch. [MM]

Alas, Edinburgh is famed for its somewhat erratic weather conditions – so if it’s damp and dreary, why not shelter inside one of the city’s leading independent cinemas? The Cameo and the Filmhouse show an array of thought-provoking arthouse and foreign language films, as well as some of the more respectable summer blockbusters. As important venues for the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the cinemas are committed to showing the best in new cinematic talent as well as classics that never get old. So whether you’re looking for pure escapism or something with more intellectual bite, the Cameo and the Filmhouse should be your first ports of call. [MM]

Calton Hill


Edinburgh Zoo

92 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

Featuring a half-finished version of the Parthenon and an eclectic mix of prominent monuments, this hill in central Edinburgh, just to the east of New Town, offers panoramic views of the city. The renowned Scottish architect William Henry Playfair was

festdirectory Berto Garcia

responsible for many of the monumental structures on the summit of the hill, most notably the Scottish National Monument. Colloquially known as “Scotland’s Disgrace”, this monument was intended to be another Parthenon and to commemorate Scottish soldiers killed in the Napoleonic wars, but construction was halted in 1829 due to lack of funds. [MM]

Royal Botanic Garden



Mark Nelson

Just one mile from the dinburgh Favourite non-E city centre, Edinurist attraction? to burgh’s Royal Botanic the rising Queensferry to Garden provides a sun, to the “Heading to South s it’ ink th Bridge. I see the Forth Rail tranquil haven for dmarks black howler lan ing nn stu st one of the mo those indulging a penmonkeys who in the world. ” chant for horticulture just love to Y ILT GU N: MARK NELSO or just looking to relax in make a racket, PLEASURE a pleasant environment. Edinburgh Zoo has @ UNDERBELLY With over 70 acres of beautiover 1,000 species. fully landscaped grounds, the exOther attractions include a tensive gardens include the Chinese world-famous penguin enclosure Hillside, home to the largest collecwith a daily “March of the Penguins” tion of wild origin Chinese plants and a free hilltop safari in which the outside China; the Queen Mother’s driver provides a running commenMemorial Garden, and Windows on tary about the animals on show. the World, a glasshouse experience [MM] offering visitors the opportunity to Jupiter Artland explore ten distinct climatic zones. BONNINGTON HOUSE, WILKIESTON, There is also the Inverleith House EDINBURGH, EH27 8BB gallery which shows regular tempo01506 889900, rary exhibitions. [MM] JUPITERARTLAND.ORG

Edinburgh Zoo


From the exceptionally rare sun bears, so named for the patches of fur on their chests which resemble

1745 174 45

Nestled unassumingly on the western fringes of Edinburgh, Jupiter Artland is one of the city’s best kept secrets. A stunning sculpture garden housed in the private grounds of Bonnington House, it boasts specially commissioned works from

Calton Hill MH Johnston

Greyfriars Bobby

some of Britain’s most exciting contemporary artists, including Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor and Andy Goldsworthy. [SF]

Greyfriars Kirkyard


Lassie and Beethoven pale in comparison to the original 18th century celebrity pooch, the aptly named Bobby, who for 14 years until his death kept a vigil at his owner’s (a police constable) grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard. The Kirkyard is also famous for the notable Edinburgh residents interred there, including the infamous “Bloody” George Mac-

kenzie, so named because of his role in the persecution of the Covenanters, a religious group active in the 17th century. It is believed that his restless spirit haunts the cemetery, causing injuries to those who cross his path. If for some bizarre reason you should want to encounter him there are a number of ghost tours available. [MM]

Gullane Beach


Edinburgh might not be many people’s first choice for a beach holiday, but in the perfectly formed coastal village of Gullane it does boast one of Scotland’s most beautiful sand beaches. Rugged, expansive and without an amusement arcade in sight, Gullane represents the perfect anidote to the Festival melee. And if the sun’s rays do threaten to grace the southern shores of the Firth of Forth, Gullane is only a very manageable half hour drive from the city centre. [SF]

When W hen the t drumbeat drumbeaat ooff w ar ech eechoed oed for for tthe he war last la st time tim me in Great Great Britain B ritain n With sound thatt W ith a so undd tha th resonates re sonates ttoo tthis his dday ay

Tst H Thee La Last Hopeful Letter Bonnie Prince Charlie Th L opeeful f L etter of o B onnie P rince Cha arlie theSpace@Surgeons H theSpace@Surgeons Hall, all, N Nicholson icholson St Street, reet, T Theatre heatre 22.. 6.05 August 220 0th 2011. 2 6. 6.05 05 p p.m. .m. p.m. – 66.55 .5–5 6.55 p p.m. .m.p.m. A ugust A 5th – August August

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 93




As seen on BBC4’s Me & Arthur Haynes documentary featuring Nicholas Parsons & Paul Merton.

THE STRANGE WORLD OF GURNEY SLADE Anthony Newley stars as an actor who walks off the set of a banal sit-com and into a fantasy world of his own imagination. Both firmly of its time and spectacularly ahead of it, THE STRANGE WORLD OF GURNEY SLADE was to television comedy what THE PRISONER has become to television drama - brilliantly inventive, startlingly surreal and unlike anything previously seen on television. t"MTPTUBSSJOH#FSOJF8JOUFST (FPGGSFZ1BMNFS  6OB4UVCCT )VHI1BEEJDLBOE$IBSMFT -MPZE1BDL t$SFBUFECZ/FXMFZBOEXSJUUFOCZ4JE(SFFO and Dick Hills (Morecambe and Wise). t/FXMZUSBOTGFSSFEGSPNUIForiginal 35mm film elements. t"WBJMBCMFGPSUIFmSTUUJNFPOBOZGPSNBU

“A mixture of Walter Mitty, the Goons and Alice in Wonderland.� DAILY MAIL

DVD AVAILABLE FROM 15 AUGUST Packaging design Š 2011 Network

festdirectory Top five shops Joe Cool


From colourful plastic jewellery to statement silver necklaces, hats, scarves and bags, look no further than Joe Cool. Found less than a minute away from the Bedlam Theatre in the heart of the Old Town, this shop is a treasure chest full of quality, beautiful jewellery and accessories. JC’s is home to many different styles of jewellery and accessories, which make it appealing to people of all ages. Their window displays are a treat all year round, but the Fringe can be the best time to visit this wonderful shop. Just be prepared – you may have to queue. [AT]


Armstrong’s Vintage

83 THE GRASSMARKET, EH1 2HJ 0131 220 5557 64-66 CLERK STREET, EH8 9JB 0131 667 3056 14 TEVIOT PLACE (RUSTY ZIP), EH1 2QZ 0131 226 4634 ARMSTRONGSVINTAGE.CO.UK

Armchair Books



72-74 WEST PORT, EH1 2LE 0131 229 5927, ARMCHAIRBOOKS.CO.UK

Filled with so many books that the shelves are First opened in 1870, Armstrong’s rumoured to groan under Vintage Emporium is the place to go the sheer weight of the if you’re looking for a bit of clothing literature they carry, this that’s just a little bit different. All marvellous little shop is clothes from all eras can be found in home to almost every book this mismatched wonderland and you’ll ever need and all whether you’re into Victorian cloththe tomes you won’t, but ing, the steampunk look, burlesque, might just read anyway. gothic or anything in between, With some books selling there’ll be something for you here. for as little as £1, Armchair Ignore the fancy dress costumes and is a haven for people of all head for the back rooms, where some budgets and needs. Go in of the most beautiful pieces and with an open mind and ask the best deals are to be found. Great one of the friendly staff for Halloween, or for the finishing members for assistance touches on that if you can’t find what special outfit, you’re looking for. Armstrong’s Who knows what TOP OF THE SHOPS is a vital part you’ll leave Dan Hyde of the Edinwith? [AT] for a spot burgh fashion Where do you go y? rap of retail the scene. [AT] hing with the designer e and I fancy splas “If it’s the daytim inces Pr ve bra t gh Joey D mi also offering I e os pp su I en th t, ou le 54 rs. If it’s the midd ne Jen handbags, watch ’ ‘do d an t Stree it BROUGHTON e had a few, then straps, shoes and the night and I’v of .” ge rid hb STREET, EH1 r on Sout skirts, all of which has to be Piemake 3SA D FUCKING AN G PIN are sure to get you OP SH 0131 557 6672 AT S UE @ GRYPHON VEN noticed. These designs JOEY-D.CO.UK THE POINT HOTEL have become very popuThe king of reclaimed and lar around the world, so visit recycled fashion items, Joey D’s signaJoey and see if he’s got something for ture “half and half jackets”—comprised you. We reckon he just might. [AT] of one half denim and the other half of Avalanche Records another material, usually from a com5 GRASSMARKET, pletely different item of clothing—have EH1 2HY become something of a statement fash0131 659 7708 ion piece around Edinburgh. Joey D’s AVALANCHERECORDS.CO.UK infamous mismatched military look has spilled over into all his other creations, Having been trading in Edinburgh

for over twenty years, Avalanche Records is recognised as a leading independent music shop by a loyal customer base. Credited as Scotland’s biggest independent high street record shop, Avalanche has recently moved from its original location in Cockburn Street and can now be found in the Grassmarket. Providing cheap and obscure recordings to its customers, the shop also sells anything from rock to pop and any other genre in between, and always for a fair price. Avalanche also specialises in a providing a varied selection of DVDs and posters, making it an absolute must-visit for any music lover in the city. [AT]

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 95

festdirectory Top ten after hours Cabaret Voltaire


Perhaps Edinburgh’s best known club, Cabaret Voltaire has earned its reputation. With three dancefloors and two bars across two levels, “Cab Vol” combines intimacy and originality within the vaults of the Old Town. Second only to The Bongo Club in terms of music, it is dedicated to playing a wide variety of artists and providing a venue for cuttingedge DJs, bands and electronic musicians. You can squeeze your way to the front speakers on the main dancefloor, or find some muchneeded space at the upstairs bar. Be prepared for queues that snake down the Cowgate, as well as stifling heat on the basement level during festival season. But rest assured, it’s worth it. [PB]

The Jazz Bar


The Jazz Bar is a club with style. For a modest entry fee you will be treated to a dimly lit, ultra-urbane ambience, lifted straight out of 1950s Chicago. Live funk, blues, world music and, of course, of jazz can all be found in the sultry recesses of this most atmospheric of venues. You might want to do your drinking elsewhere as the Jazz Bar is far from cheap, but you won’t need a drop to appreciate this venue: simply lean back and enjoy some of the finest late-night live music in Edinburgh. [PB]

The Store

THE STORE, 37 GUTHRIE ST, EH1 1JG 0131 220 2987

Formerly The GRV, this little-known club is hidden down a narrow close, wedged between the bustling activity of Chamber St and the revelry of the Cowgate. Friendly staff, a two-bar set-up and a wide variety of clientèle make this one of the most inviting and interesting alternative clubs in Edinburgh. Music spans a variety of genres including funk, soul, indie and techno. Boasting a total of four rooms and two bars, it is easy to get served and find your niche for the night. [PB]



Bongo Club 37 HOLYROOD ROAD, EH8 8BA 0131 558 8844, THEBONGOCLUB.CO.UK

Sneaky Pete’s


Jungle, funk, electro, soul... ceilidh? Bongo’s got it all, offering the widest variety of music of any night-time destination in Edinburgh. Add into the equation a generous portion of free events, a large dancefloor and an impressive soundsystem and you’ve got a proper nightclub designed around proper music lovers. The Bongo Club is the perfect location for mingling with music enthusiasts, from vintage 90s ravers to manic first-year students and nascent young DJs cutting their teeth on the local scene. The walls may be bare, the paint chipped, and by the end of a night, the floor may be slick with the collective sweat from hundreds of flailing, colliding bodies, but if you like your bass heavy and your music raw, a night at Bongo is an exhilarating must. [PB]

Small in size but big on charm, Sneaky Pete’s is a clubbing gem tucked in amongst the larger outfits on the Cowgate. More of a stopping place on a night out to bigger venues than a destination FRIGHT in itself, it NIGHT nevethless Mark Olver has a range after a gig? The Liquid of cheap What do you do I bber or drinker, so drinks deals Room “I’m not really a clu to and go home 9C VICTORIA STREET, and a wide usually finish a gig ep. In Edinburgh EH1 2HE variety of a good book, or sle r.” tte na 0131 225 2564 I’ll find a corner & live musiLIQUIDROOM.COM RTRAIT OF MARK OLVER: PO cians that A SERIAL KILLER ES CAV E @ TH pass through While it is first-andits doors. This foremost a large-capacity year has seen indie gig venue, The Liquid Room newcomers Yuck and punk also puts on a decent selection of club oddballs Gay For Johnny Depp take nights, such as the house and electroup an evening residence at the themed Bump Thursdays, or the nosclub, while the ace, up-and-coming talgia-tinged Madchester nights. The electronic duo Mount Kimbie made dancefloor is ideal for throwing down their second appearance there in some moves, with plenty of room late 2010. [PB/DH] to stretch out and thrash around.

Meanwhile, a full-size stage provides a great performance platform for a variety of bands and DJs. If dancing isn’t your thing and you’d rather just chill, listen and watch, grab a drink and observe the mayhem below from the balcony. [PB]



GHQ is the diamond in the very rough rough that is Edinburgh’s unfortunately rather shabby, limited gay scene. If you

Bashir Lazhar ‘Passionate...... Chilling’ (VUE magazine)

, Aug . 3-2 8 @1 4:2 5 Ass em bly, Ge org e Squ are Two fest ival .co m 013 1 623 303 0 | ww w.a ssem bly 96 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011

festdirectory Balloon and witness the legendary Live ‘n Loud comedy club doing what it’s been doing for the past 25 years: entertaining a mob of blurry-eyed, heckling punters looking to laugh their way into a new day. Running from 1-5am, Late ‘n’ Live can be a surreal and unpredictable experience, but this is precisely its charm. And if you aren’t content with just standup, there’s an in-house band to fill the gaps. [PB].

Electric Circus


Cabaret Voltaire

can get over the fact that’s its done up as a cross between a tart’s boudoir and an Ikea showroom (complete with blindingly bright white leather couches), you’ll enjoy the good drinks deals and the respectable mix of pop, indie and dance, providing you get out before the 3am Steps moment. Straight-friendly throughout the week, it also has a straight night on Wednesdays. [DH]

Late ‘n’ Live


If clubbing isn’t your idea of a night well spent, then why not opt for a small-hours dose of rowdy comedy? On any given night of the Fringe, those who are still able can wend their unsteady way to The Gilded

Karaoke, which takes its name from the Japanese for “murdered soft rock classic”, provides the perfect gimmick for this slick and relatively new club. Its modest dimensions mean there’s little risk of losing your friends, giving the venue an intimate party atmosphere when the floor begins to fill. Taking a leaf from Tokyo’s book, Electric Circus features handy booths to insulate the innocents on the dancefloor from your strangled wails. They’ll be flailing about to something retro

and noisy, or something trendy and electronic; you’ll be working your way through a massive library of backing tracks both old and new, your screeches drenched in satisfyingly excessive reverb. Your rendition of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ will be godawful, but with echoes like these it’ll be godawful – in a cave! [LB]

The Hive

15-17 NIDDRY STREET, EH1 1LG 0131 556 0444 CLUBHIVE.CO.UK

The Hive is not for the faint of heart. Cheap drinks, plain, black walls and a bare, metal bar all set the scene for a straightforward but good value night of clubbing. The music policy draws largely from the charts, so you can guarantee there will be something on the playlist you’ve heard countless times before. If the sounds on the main dancefloor don’t suit, you can escape to the other room, playing differently themed, but equally familiar tunes. If budget inebriation and cramped, unadulterated grinding is what you’re after, look no further than The Hive. [PB]

edinburgh festival preview guide 2011 fest 97

festdirectory Top five moneysavers Half-Price Hut


Situated on The Mound, the Half-Price Hut offers up a limited number of discount tickets for a variety of shows. All purchases must be made from the Hut itself, though regular updates on available tickets can be viewed on iPhones using the official Edinburgh Festival Fringe app. Alternatively, you can wander over to the Hut and browse the tickets displayed in the window. Like Theatre Ninjas (see right), Half-Price Hut provides a mutually beneficial service for both the acts performing at the Fringe and those eager to see them. Win, win. [PB]

Previews and Two-for-one days CHECK THE PROGRAMME FOR DATES

If you want to do Edinburgh on the cheap, it pays to get in early. Comprising the first two or three dates of a run, preview shows are often halfprice, while for two days (this year August 8 and 9) a sizeable portion of the Fringe goes two-for-one. The performers may not have peaked by this stage, so don’t be surprised if occasional kinks and technical hitches rear their ugly heads. On the upside,

nor will they have burnt themselves out with three gruelling weeks of relentless song and dance. Skimping: it’s all in the timing. [LB]

PBH’s Free Fringe/ Laughing Horse Free Fringe



A revolutionary way to see top-flight shows for free, the Theatre Ninjas initiative proved a hugely successful innovation at last year’s Fringe. Available in web-based or app format, Theatre Ninjas provides a forum in which directors and venue owners can get rid of last-minute tickets and fill otherwise empty seats. The Ninjas will tell you where the free tickets are going, when the show starts and let you check how close you are to the venue using its map facility. Some performances might not appeal, but with so many free shows available you’re bound to find something you like. If you’re adventurous, broke, indecisive or all three, there is no better way to experience the Fringe on a budget. [PB]

Still the best-known and by far the longest-running of the free festival organisations, the Free Fringe was started in 1996 by musical comedian Peter Buckley Hill. But since 2004, stiff competition from its Laughing Horse equivalent has seen the free scene explode. What began with just one show (Peter Buckley Hill and Some Comedians) has now grown into a massive Free Fringe programme, containing thousands of performances set across 22 different stages. On the similarly proportioned Laughing Horse side of things, last year IN THE MONEY saw a coup in the form of d Ravi Jain Imran Yusuf, when his free Adam Paolozza an ing advice show launched a rapid rise to Best money-sav ceived? re er ev e stardom. Although both are still u’v yo u dominated by comedy, together t me that when yo Adam: “Ravi taugh king for a as of d tea ins the two festivals also offer theatre, s, go to Starbuck a ‘doppio wet music, opera, science and poetry, cappuccino, order o’. It’s exactly guaranteeing that there’ll be someespresso macchiat half the price… d an o cin uc pp thing to satisfy anyone looking for like a ca l estate.” rea in t es inv Oh, and an authentic, wide-ranging Edinburgh experience. [PB/LB]





Edinburgh Book Fringe


If you don’t fancy paying the often quite reasonable prices at the Edinburgh Book Festival, here’s a nice little literary, left-wing treat for all those so inclined. Word Power Books on Nicolson Street will be hosting its own miniature book festival, with seven days of free talks by authors and political activists. Highlights will include celebrated Scottish author Alasdair Gray’s appearance at the launch event and a discussion with comedian/agitator Mark Thomas about his latest book, Extreme Rambling. Also, look out for a discussion hosted by Owen Jones, author of the highly-praised, vital book on class-hate, Chavs. Intellectual stimulation free of charge? Yes please. [PB]


98 fest edinburgh festival preview guide 2011














Profile for Fest Magazine

Fest Preview 2011  

The Definitive 2011 Festival Guide

Fest Preview 2011  

The Definitive 2011 Festival Guide

Profile for festmag

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded