Monday, 3 September 2012

Lessons From The Fringe

After a week at home recovering from Fringe Fatigue, it's time to reflect on my time in Edinburgh. In list form, because I'm moving to start a job tomorrow so things are a bit busy at the moment! So, with apologies for the slight lack of coherent prose, here's a smattering of things I learned at the Fringe:

1) Expect the unexpected.
I very quickly discovered that my capacity to be surprised dissolved and vanished away in Edinburgh. Things that I was doubtful about took my breath away, shows I looked forward to let me down; the Royal Mile was always providing another unexpected sight; old friends popped up at every corner, new friends emerged; and you never quite knew if you'd just walked past an unusually glamorous woman or one of the Ladyboys of Bangkok. So, I learned to leave all expectations behind me and be prepared for anything!

2) Deep fried Mars bars are not as nice as people tell you.
I was assured by two very trustworthy (or so I thought...) EFR reviewers that this stereotypically Scottish snack was in fact addictively tasty. I found it was disappointing and gave me stomach ache. Although, the fact that the Marchmont Takeaway (whose staff are lovely, by the way) will deep fry any of the confectionery that they sell makes a return visit tempting. Next time I'm going for a deep fried Crunchie - maybe that'll convert me to the cause. But I doubt it.

3) Do not attempt to walk down the Royal Mile if you're late.
Or, don't be late if you know you have to walk down the Mile. Or else, perfect your kamikaze dodging technique. The number of times I left with plenty of time to spare yet ended up sprinting the last couple of streets would fill an entire blog post of their own, and it was always because my route took me down the Mile. Even if you're a persistent flyer-dodger, it is a simple fact of the Fringe that you cannot get down that road quickly. Although quite honestly, why would you want to?

4) Living statues' paint is surprisingly waterproof.
Ok, this may not be a vital life lesson, but I was intrigued to hear from a silvery lady in Caffe Nero that in fact her metallic body paint would not run in the downpour that the Edinburgh skies were dumping on us. It's just that she didn't like rain very much.

5) ZOO Venues and Edinburgh Zoo are NOT the same place.
Before someone makes a joke about dumb blondes, I never had to learn this lesson - obvious, I thought. Apparently not, as one of our reviewers proved when, just as she was enjoying the gift shop and panda exhibit, she realised that in fact the play which was due to start ten minutes later was not somewhere between the monkey and the meerkat enclosure, but the other side of Edinburgh. In a theatre. Not a zoo. Just in case you're still confused, here's a brief description from their websites: we've got "one of the leading venue management companies on the Edinburgh Fringe, with two thriving theatres at the heart of the Festival" and "the largest and most exciting wildlife attraction in Scotland, committed to the highest standards of animal welfare, conservation and environmental education." Worked out which one is which? Excellent. Remember that.

6) Not everything should have 'The Musical' stuck onto the end of the title.
There seems to be an ever-increasing sector of shows with this particular suffix. I love musicals - always have and always will. But not everything should necessarily be given the all-singing, all-dancing treatment. Bereavement: The Musical and Sex Ed: The Musical both get a big fat YES. Andy and the Prostitutes: The Musical? Doubtful. The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Musical? No. Just... no.

7) Arthur's Seat is worth an afternoon away from the festival.
It's quick and easy to climb and the views are beautiful. And you hear some gems of bad geography if you eavesdrop on conversations at the top as people try to get their bearings. "Isn't Stonehenge near here? Oh no, wait - that's in Italy isn't it..." I have no idea if this person made it back to her house without getting lost, but I have my doubts.

8) The Fringe is addictive.
I came home sleep-deprived, never wanting to send an email again and seeing press releases and reviews and stars whenever I closed my eyes. But I'm going back next year, no question. I may have got Fringe fatigue, but I also caught Fringe fever - I'm officially a life-long fan. No matter how tired you get, the sheer amount of amazing, surprising, hilarious (whether intentionally or not) and heart-rending theatre that is on show here is unparalleled, from the most traditional of Shakespearean productions to the newest comedians on the circuit to an eleven minute performance in a prison cell. One year's taste of it is not enough. Thank you Edinburgh, you were great.

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