Festival City

The main reason I decided that Edinburgh would be a great vacation spot was because of the Festival (and, of course, the Fringe). The first thing to do was choose who to see when. Thing One was given carte blanche, but many of the things he wanted to see were playing after we were there (which doesn't mean we wouldn't have wanted to return, but it would have been very expensive to pop over for an evening's performance - not to mention disruptive of the sleep and work cycles). We settled on one event/evening, and that worked out nicely. The biggest problem for me was that I'm an "early to bedder" and getting back to the hotel room after 11pm was a little difficult on my system. Still, I survived.

Without further ado, the reviews:
  • X-Files Improv. Absolutely the best thing to have started this trip off with. For those not up on their X-Files trivia, Dean Haglund played one of the Lone Gunmen and help "solve" many of the cases. Lucky for Dean, many people aren't that up on the X-Files, and lucky for us he's decided to share what an episode was like. To do this, however, he needed audience participation - the first act (aka "a Mysterious Event occurs") required help with sound effects, the second (aka "the Government Cover-Up") required someone to be the Official Arms, the third (aka "The Battle") required a human puppeteer, and the fourth (aka "Lone Gunman to the Rescue") required a Mulder-stand-in. Throughout all of this, there was interaction with the audience, mostly in the form (when I saw it) of picking on Rupert Murdoch's empire. The end result? Pee-in-your-pants, laugh-till-it-hurts funny. And, given what the previous few days at work had been like, so very, very perfect. Official review (scroll down)

  • The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre. Weirder than it sounds, trust me. We got tickets to the SFSP because a colleague recommended it to me. Had the room not felt like a cross between Dante's tenth level and Union Square Station on a 100o day in August, it might have been a lot funnier. As it was, the Shakespeare bit was very funny and the rest was mildly humorous, but not enough to take my mind off the Extreme Heat and Humidity. Official Review

  • The Edinburgh Military Tattoo We had to queue for this one, in the just-starting-to-drizzle morning hours, but we got tickets to the 10:30pm Saturday show (which includes fireworks). I'd seen the Tattoo before, but Thing One hadn't and I thought it was the sort of experience everyone should have at least once. Just be aware: the seats are tiny and you do need to rent the cushion! After queuing for a while before the performance, we got into the Castle Esplanade and sat down. Mr. Announcer did a good job of greeting the audience, and then the fun began. Highlights: the Russians, the Taiwanese, "Hey Jude" on Steel Drums, and the finale. Best of all? It didn't start raining again until we were on our way out!

  • Camille. Who knew that there'd be two acts with similar names and albums out there? I thought we were seeing this Camille, but in reality it was this one. Not that I regretted it, mind you. Always nice to get exposed to a new performer, and this Camille is certainly a great performer. I can't see her heading to the Big Venues (although I know she's played the Sydney Opera House), but places like Roseland or Irving Plaza would be wonderful for her. She didn't do any new material, but her covers of Brel, Cave and others were done in new ways, so you didn't feel like this was yet another cover artist. After, I got her three CDs and have been thoroughly enjoying them as I drive along. And isn't that really the whole point? To enjoy the music? Official Preview.

  • The Bacchae. The Big Event - Alan Cumming returns to the Scottish Stage. Was it worth it? For the most part, yes. I was struck by the similarities between this story and that of Jesus (both born of God-Father/Human-Mother, both doubted as Gods - or demiGods - by their people initially, both questioned by The Authorities). Thing One thinks I took that a little too far, but hey, it's my interpretation. And the fact that Cumming makes his entrance in an upside-down cross stance, lowered from the ceiling didn't lessen my impressions. According to the program notes, I was supposed to be thinking about issues of gender identity, politics and questions of personal identity - sue me if I didn't. Pentheus and Agave were very well acted, a difficult task given the high powered nature of Cumming's performance. They were more nuanced, while he was more pouty/petulant/angry/fey (all at the same time, usually). There were times when I thought it was a bit too campy, and the singing of his followers started a game of "what pop song would better fit than what they're singing" in my head, but overall the performance was really solid and enjoyable. Except the bit where he's wrecking vengeance by destroying the palace of Thebes and there's a special effect where fire shoots up along the walls of the set. Not the best thing to see at that moment, you know? I know this is going on tour, and perhaps it'll come to the US. If so, I suspect it'd do well at BAM, not at a main Broadway stage. Official Reviews.
There you have it: what we did at night in Edinburgh. Next up - the daytime sights.


Sherri said...

Normally I'd be seething with jealousy, but considered recent traumatic events, I'll just be a little green. Sounds wonderful!

thing1 said...

believe that some body parts were shaken loose by laughing at dean too much.
will have to check the fringe lost&found