- Thursday, 29 August 2019

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019: highs & lows

sneak peak: reviews of five shows at the 2019 Edinburgh Festival Fringe including Backbone, Shitfaced Shakespeare and more

Last year, Felix and I ended up in the worst Fringe show in the whole world, where the audience was made to applaud the several people who walked out because it was so awful.

Luckily, this year's trip was much more successful and we managed to cram some real highlights into our annual Fringe weekend. Read on for a recap of what we saw, and hopefully some useful tips for Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2020!


Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2019: highs & lows, imogen molly blog, www.imogenmolly.co.uk


Must see
Gravity & Other Myths: Backbone
***** 5/5
Gracing the stage of Edinburgh's largest Fringe venue, 900-capacity McEwan Hall, Australian acrobatics troupe Gravity & Other Myths was incredible. Their routines were novel and fun, and mind-bogglingly impressive without making you second-hand terrified just by watching. They describe their show as "a high-octane spree of physical virtuosity" and although I don't entirely know what physical virtuosity is supposed to be, it sounds about right.

The building of a set (of sorts) was incorporated into the circus tricks and meant there was a whole lot going on at any one time. Anywhere you looked on the stage, someone was leaping onto or off someone else's shoulders (or maybe even two someone elses' shoulders) or handspringing along the back or any assortment of other manoeuvres that absolutely did make you question whether they did, indeed, actually have backbones. (Answer: yes, they do, a lot of it, because you can't balance on someone's head while they dance around underneath you without a whole heap of bravery and determination, aka: backbone.)


Ray Badran: Everybody Loves Ray, Man
***** 5/5
We chanced upon this show almost by accident, and boy am I glad we did. We had time to kill before Shitfaced Shakespeare (more on that later) so rocked up to the box office and asked for something nearby, with good reviews, NOW. We ended up in the very minuscule Cellar at the Pleasance with a cross between David Schwimmer and Daniel Ricciardo (Felix's contribution and OH MY HE IS RIGHT), with the warmest of Aussie accents to boot.

Badran effortlessly created a comfortable, jovial atmosphere with quick wit and relatable humour. There was a good balance of prepared routine (although delivered very casually, of course) and riffing off the audience, and slightly tricky front-row guests just served to prove how natural a comedian Badran is. Every joke landed perfectly, I was in stitches throughout and afterwards, and the ending was probably among the best in the whole Fringe - just don't fill up too much at supper if you wind up in the front row.


Worth squeezing in
Michael Fabbri: Rebooted
**** 4/5
Every year, Cab Vol (or Cabaret Voltaire, to give it its full name) is a reliable destination for anyone in search of some good quality free Fringe. This year, we managed to catch Rebooted, a show from comedy veteran Michael Fabbri. This was full of brilliant observations, amusing sketches, and one-liners that catch you totally off guard and hit you right on the funny bone. Fabbri drew on stories from his own life to create a welcome vibe in a slightly difficult venue (very long and thin with lots of corners), and even sitting right at the back, we were cackling with the best of them (okay I was cackling, Felix was laughing like a normal person).

The show had a decidedly homemade feel to it which only added to the charm, but my favourite homemade element was Fabbri's take on a charity video at the end and okay cool now I'm actually laughing on my own in my room as I write this. I've just tried to find it online but alas I don't think it's anywhere, so you'll have to take my word for it, and/or go and see Fabbri's shows, wherever they may be.


Paul Currie: Trufficle Musk
Disclaimer: I was given two tickets to this show in return for a review; I received no payment, and opinions are honest and my own.
**** 4/5
This one was absolutely bizarre. Paul Currie is evidently incredibly creative, very quick-thinking, and admirably devoid of any sort of embarrassableness whatsoever (yes that's a word). What was also clear was how much time and effort had gone into not just writing the show, but creating everything for it (props for making so many props), building such an involved soundtrack (karaoked along to in Currie's dulcet Northern Irish tones), and coming up with quite so many entirely different ideas to knit together into one big comedic extravaganza.

If the enormous queue outside the room (at Hive, lol, hello Edinburgh pals) wasn't enough, it was obvious from very early on that the audience was full of regulars and existing Currie fans. Raucous laughter came from all around us while Felix and I were wide-eyed and crinkle-eyebrowed with perplexion and sheer 'what is going on'. Some bits were hilarious, some bits were downright weird, and despite the extravagance and eccentricity, the show felt like a surprisingly intimate peek into Currie's life. Also, Felix and I still sing panda hands at each other every so often (you just sing the words 'panda hands' to literally any tune ever) which can only be a good thing.

One thing to note if you go to a show at Hive: you will leave absolutely dripping with sweat, especially if it's a very energetic show with lots of running around, which this one definitely was (although the audience was very much seated, don't worry).


Don't bother
Shitfaced Shakespeare
** 2/5
Controversial? Quite possibly, judging by the pretty much sold-out McEwan Hall. Having heard rave reviews and a whole lot of hype, we had high hopes for this one, not least because its 11pm-midnight time slot makes you want it to be worthwhile. Unfortunately, Shitfaced Shakespeare was just a bit... shit.

The premise is great - a cast of classically trained actors puts on a condensed version of a Shakespearean play, with a different member 'shitfaced' drunk for each performance. Maybe we came on a bad night, but I've heard similar reviews from friends who went to different performances, and every time it has fallen pretty flat. Their other production, Shitfaced Showtime, may be better, but with the tickets being among the most expensive of all the shows we went to, I won't be rushing to find out.
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Aaaaand that's a wrap! But before I wind up, I just want to say one thing. While the hyped-up, sold-out, expensive-ticketed shows are (usually) great, the free Fringe is much closer to the origins of the festival than the big-ticket shows, so please do support these performers just as much - if not with your dolla, then with your time and your reviews.

2 comments:

  1. Ray - 6/5
    Trufficle when hammered- 5/5
    Trufficle when sober - 3/5

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    Replies
    1. An excellent rating system, I wholeheartedly agree.

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