Friday, 23 August 2013

Edinburgh Fringe - third day out on the streets

Working it on the Royal Mile

A typical August day at the Edinburgh Fringe seems to be slightly warm and wet but that doesn't stop those who need to sell a show on the Royal Mile from coming out and doing what they do. Not so many punters though on day 3 of our trip so we had breathing space to think about what to do next without too much bustle.

The next on our 'to-do' list was Musical Theatre as Edinburgh together brings Musical Theatre Societies from all over the country.

Members of CUMTS when not in costume...

Most are very young (students still at uni) and they bring bags of enthusiasm and energy to Edinburgh and often showcase from one of the two stages set up for the purpose on the Royal Mile. We didn't see these guys here but who can resist a Stephen Sondheim musical we asked ourselves when we came across the Cambridge University Musical Theatre's Society (CUMTS for short) production of The Assassins on the app. 

This is a bit of an odd musical, telling the story of a nine of those who across the centuries have attempted (and sometimes succeeded) in assassinating a US President. Chronologically Assassins is a bit of a mess but you can't blame the cast who not only sang their hearts out (Sondheim is challenging) but often left the stage to pick up an instrument - what an annoyingly talented bunch. It was a bit raw in places and voices not always as strong as they should be but the two girls in the cast were worthy of extra praise as they were very good indeed. Nice to hear some great music sung with gusto in the afternoon!

Following a musical theme we checked out 'looping artist' Adam Page all the way from Australia. Adam uses looping pedals to record and playback, effortlessly recording the sounds he makes or plays and layering others on top of them to create a wall of musical sound and beat. He also has an extraordinary beard which, with the use of a small microphone, he 'plays', recording the scratchy sounds and layering them into the music.
If you want to catch a bit of Adam yourself then check out the following video...

A brief stop to fill up on pizza and we were off to our third show of the day. The Peculiar Tale of Pablo Picasso and the Mona Lisa is a new piece of absurdist comedy performed by the talented Fourth Monkey Theatre Company. They have been working very hard to establish themselves on the Fringe over the past few years and I have to say this was genuinely one of the best things we saw this year.
Fourth Monkey from Colin Hattersley Photography

Taking Picasso's early life, this tells the story of an outrageous theft of the Mona Lisa and the muses who inspired the young Pablo. Using a simple white set, beautiful costume, this play brought to life the spirit of Paris in the early twentieth century. It's visually arresting and great fun with tons of artistic license and an appearance from the Desmoiselles d'Avignon to help and hinder Picasso throughout the story. It's all a bit mad, farcical and shows Picasso as the egocentric bastard that we can all imagine he was. Gertrude Stein and Georges Braque also make an appearance. We loved it for it's energy, sense of fun and absurd storyline and came out of the theatre smiling and uplifted - what more can you ask?

Final stop of the day was to This is a Damage Manual, a piece of dance with physical theatre thrown in for good measure from BONEdanse. It sounded really interesting, using vintage instruction self-help recordings from the 1950s (all on scratchy vinyl record) to explore how universally damaged we all are and how many of us simply stay that way. All with a lot of satire and wit thrown in.

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