Our writer has fallen head over heels for the Edinburgh Festival. She invites you to see just how the Fringe stole her heart.
It’s my first ever Fringe. I can’t believe it’s taken this long to get myself to this cooking pot of curiosity. If it were a dish, it would inevitably be a trifle: a cornucopia of fruity tang and cheap booze, overcrowded in a chintzy dish, in this case, Edinburgh. Fringe is both as gauche and ghastly as an American diner and I love it. The city is singing, nay, shouting with an orchestra of bagpipes, keytars, hecklers, circus performers, feminist troupes asking you to ‘pin the tail on the vagina’ and the haranguing flyerers, desperate or completely unfussed whether you do or don’t give a f*ck about the show they are advertising. What could be more perfect than days filled with comedy, drag and queer cabaret, each of which serenades you from balmy mornings into the magic of the night?
It’s that kind of impulsive love which begins with vodka-tinted greetings and coffee stained goodbyes. The kind of love that happens in old Hollywood and Richard Curtis films. What was once a city written out by Irvine Walsh, Iain Banks and Muriel Spark, a quaint place for pints of Guinness in tiny pubs, bottles of Buckfast up Calton Hill and intimate candlelit dinners, has been recast in a fresh mould. I have sometimes heard people describe Edinburgh as sleepy, a slow city like a lazy dog. There is certainly a period of hibernation: in mid-winter students double-up on woolen socks to fend the arctic chill and smokers dart from outside nightclubs into the warmth of a dancefloor swaddle. However, the city takes those winter months to recover from an August of sleepless nights, one-night-stands, hairs of the dog, sunrises seen from up above, roller discos and dress rehearsals. In the summer, Edinburgh becomes a metropolis where nobody says no and everyone hangs their washing out, for all to see.
Writing this on the plane home, only the melancholia of The Smiths can match my overwhelming sense of Stendhal Syndrome. Edinburgh feels like Hollywood and it won’t be there for long.
Issy’s pick of the Fringe’s most outrageous, absurd and candid shows to leave you love-struck:
The Slinks: Dripping with glamour, tulle and Parisian pizazz, these Old-Hollywood starlets are bound to steal your hearts. Comprised of eccentric duo Voo Le Voo (Lily Ashley & Hugo Hamlet) the pair master a camaraderie between music, love and art. Prepare to be transported away to a smoky booth at a rouge cabaret club in an indeterminate foreign land of absurdity and surrealism.
The Slinks, Underbelly, 22:55, July 31 – August 26 http://www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk/whats-on/the-slinks
Alfie Brown, Imagination: Brilliant, barmy, charming Alfie Brown. Brown is completely personable with his audience. He shakes their hands as they enter and darts around the space like a pocket rocket as they fill the room. On my viewing, he teases a tech couple from San Francisco about Silicon Valley, a lanky bloke from South London about going for a piss mid-show, as well as touching hilariously on family, romance, football and musicals. He’s loveable, inappropriate, confessedly Southern and a delightful human to spend the evening with.
Alfie Brown, Imagination. Monkey Barrel, 22:30, August 7 – 25 https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/alfie-brown-imagination
Salmon: A raw and unflinchingly honest production which delves into male mental health. Set against a backdrop of a rural Scottish town, raving, romance and restlessness help pin this moving play on the map. Angus is a vulnerable young man dealing with grief and we watch as his mental state unravels before his eyes. Like Kiernan Hurley’s ‘Beats’, this production also focuses on the rave scene in Scotland, an escape from the worms eating away at Angus’ mind and soul.
Salmon, Assembly Rooms – Powder Room, 14:45, August 4-12 https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/salmon
Crystal Rasmussen: An iconic portrayal of the queer experience. Dripping in glitter, sequins and a license to kill, drag queen Crystal Rasmussen carefully darts between glamorous performances of female anthems and extracts from her moving book Diary of a Drag Queen. Candid, humorous and radiant in a storm of red and sea of glitter, Crystal encapsulates a sound hybrid between the personal and public experience.
Crystal Rasmussen presents The Bible 2 (Plus a Cure for Shame, Violence, Betrayal and Athlete’s Foot) Live! Underbelly, Cowgate, 17:50, August 4-25 https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/crystal-rasmussen-presents-the-bible-2-plus-a-cure-for-shame-violence-betrayal-and-athlete-s-foot-live
Frog’s Legs: A modern take on the “three men walk into a bar” concept. Morecambe and Wise meets British sitcom in this artful musical comedy. Electric, archaic and ludicrous, this play connects perfectly old and new, creating a timeless classic set to start your day right.
Frog’s Legs, Underbelly, 11:50, July 31 – Aug 25 http://www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk/whats-on/frogs-legs#calendar-08-2019
Issy Carr is the Editor-in-Chief of the printed Edinburgh art and culture journal, Canvas; launching in 2020.
Photography: Will Waterworth.