This was to be our first trip to The Fringe Festival! Boy and I aren’t hugely into the arts or theatre, but we certainly do appreciate the talent and admire the hard work that goes into producing any sort of creative or dramatic piece. Luckily for us, our friends (Jordan and Emily) happened to be in Edinburgh staying with their family, and had space to host us for the weekend. We caught the train up on Thursday night, and got into Waverley Station at about 11:30pm. Pro tip: if you have control over it, make sure to reserve a seat whenever you travel on a long-haul train journey in the UK. There were people on our journey that had to stand from London to Edinburgh (which takes about five hours) because they had open tickets. Always reserve a seat!
The sheer volume of performances going on during The Fringe means that it’s unlikely you’re going to see an act of every type - not even close. If you spent the entire month in Edinburgh and really dedicated all of your time, energy and money into seeing shows non-stop, then you would probably get a good sample of each of the different genres. It’s the biggest festival in the world, so it’s reasonable to assume you’re not going to see everything. Boy and I were keen to see a variety of different shows. On Friday, Emily had heard about a stand-up comedy show based on backpacking and travelling. Being four Kiwis that were in the middle of their OE’s, we thought it sounded perfect! The gig was in a tiny theatre in the back room of Finnegan’s Wake pub on Victoria Street; it uncomfortably seated about 25 people. We listened to three comedians and thought they were all funny - although, none of them actually spoke about backpacking so I’m not too sure where the show title came from. My favourite of the three was an act called ‘Leopard Print’ by a comedian named Schalk Bezuidenhout. He’s from South Africa and he talked about different the goings-on in his life. I love observational comedy and thought this guy was hilarious.
Because we only went to one show on Friday, we decided that we were going to make the most of Saturday. Pro tip: head to the half price hut for cheap tickets. This is how Boy and I picked up two out of the three shows we went to on Saturday, and it made sure that we went to shows we wouldn’t have otherwise chosen. The first show we went to was a play called ‘Base Camp’. Two women had written a play about a mountaineering tragedy that happened to them while they were on a difficult climb in India. The large group was split into two smaller groups; each group was taken into a tent and told that climber’s version of the event. Honestly, I didn’t think it was going to be as good as it was, but I was wrong; it was really good, I was drawn in, and I’m glad we went.
The next show we went to was a sort of stand-up comedy/seminar show called ‘I’m Your Man: Letters of the World’s Most Ambitious Job Applicant’ written and performed by a man named Sam Broadley. His act/seminar was taking us through lots of different jobs he had applied to in his life (e.g., Manager of Manchester United, Prime Minister, Chief Executive Officer of the NHS - you know, all the good ones) with the attitude that there is nobody more qualified or motivated to do this job than me - and here’s the letter to prove it! It was a funny act and I enjoyed it, perhaps not as much as a regular stand-up comedy show, but still thought it was a good laugh. Boy even bought a copy of his book!
The third show we went to that evening was ‘Scientology: The Musical’, written and performed by an Australian band called George Glass. I really enjoyed this show; it was about the introduction/indoctrination of an incoming member into the Church of Scientology. It was a comedic performance and I was hugely impressed. They had scored and performed an entire musical - I really hope that they were spotted at The Fringe. Although it was fictitious, I suspect that what they performed is not too dissimilar from the reality...
Even though we only went to three shows on Saturday, they were located all over the city. We were walking to each show and trying to be as present as we could so by the end of the day, we were knackered. Because of this, we only went to one show on Sunday evening; Tape Face! One of the key aspects of a Tape Face show is audience participation; nobody really wants to get picked so you try to sit a few seats in from the aisles so he can’t get you, but that doesn’t work because those are the seats he goes for! Boy was picked for the first sketch and had to essentially pillow fight another bloke in a piece called ‘Man vs. Machine’. It was really funny and the audience enjoyed it. The rest of the show was great as well; it was the second time I had seen Tape Face and have successfully managed to escape being chosen both times!
On Monday morning, Boy and I went to the Edinburgh Castle. We hadn’t visited it on our previous trip so decided that we had to this time around. It costs £18.50 for a ticket (or £17.00 if you buy a ticket online in advance). Pro tip: Don’t do what Boy and I did and wait in line - buy your ticket online before you go and then you’ll be able to stroll up to the online ticket booths and save a 20 minute wait in a queue. You can hire a headset and learn all about the history of the Castle while looking out over the city. After spending about an hour at the Castle (which wasn’t nearly enough time - I’d suggest two hours minimum), Boy and I went in different directions. He caught up with Jordan and Emily to walk up to Calton Hill to look at the National Monument and the Nelson Monument tower. I went back into town to catch up with my friend Maysem. I hadn’t seen her since Yoga Teacher Training in India, so it was wonderful to catch up. We talked about who we had seen since leaving India a year ago, what we had been up to while living in London and Edinburgh, what we wanted to do in the future and lots of other stuff. After lunch, I reconvened with Boy, Emily and Jordan and wandered back to the house to get ready to catch the train back that evening. Again, it turned out to be lucky that we reserved a seat!
So there you have it - our four days in Edinburgh! Besides the shows we went to, we often stopped to watch performances in the street; people busking, juggling, swallowing swords, all sorts of stuff. My favourite street performance was a band named The Spinning Blowfish; a three person band with a guitarist, a drummer, and a bagpiper! It’s an awesome festival to go to, and there is so much to see and do - just prepared to end up with a truckload of fliers at the end of each day!
It dawned on me earlier this week that it has been one year since Boy and I arrived in London. It seems fitting that I should write about it, so that is what my next post is going to be about!
Bye for now,