Edinburgh Fringe Festival – Day 1 (23rd August 2013)

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The Fringe Festival in Edinburgh has always been something I’ve wanted to attend, and this year I finally got to go. I was literally only there for the final three days, so I didn’t have much time, and many things had already ended, so I didn’t see everything I might have wanted to, but I still managed to pack a lot in, sometimes running (not literally) from one side of the town centre to the other, with only 10 minutes between shows.

A lot of the first half of the day involved me and my friend walking around the High Street, seeing the busking and promotion of shows, soaking in the amazing atmosphere, and taking whatever flyers were offered to us, even if I had no intention of seeing it. People were trying really hard to get people to come to their shows, so I almost felt bad. We actually ended up going to one or two of them, I think.

The first show we went to was Assassins, a Stephen Sondheim musical about attempted and successful assassinations of US presidents, from Abraham Lincoln to John F. Kennedy, performed by the Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society and Amateur Dramatic Club. I don’t really talk about theatre on here, but I really like Sondheim’s musicals, and so I had booked this before arriving in Edinburgh. This was my first experience of a Fringe show and venue, and I didn’t really know to what expect. It was essentially just a room, with chairs facing a “stage” area from three sides, and a makeshift lighting rig. And this wasn’t the worst venue by any standards. The production itself was pretty enjoyable though. I didn’t know much of the musical at all going in, but I imagine a 90 minute production is a slightly shorter version. Fully played out, the storyline is probably a littler clearer, but the acting was pretty good, but voices ranged from lovely, to ‘oh dear.’ I’ve seen so much since, I don’t remember exactly who was good and who wasn’t, but I think majority of them were at least decent. It’s quite a well written musical, in that it’s both funny when it should be, and moving when it should be. The music of course was great, and it’s very ‘Sondheim’.

We went from a Cambridge show, to an Oxford one next. A friend of my friend was part of the Oxford and Oxford Brookes University all-female a Cappella group, In The Pink. They weren’t quite Pitch Perfect’s Bardem Bellas, but they were close, and actually pretty fun to watch, and not as cringey as I thought an actual a Cappella group might be. As with all university groups I seem to find, not all voices are as strong as some of the others, but the group are definitely aware of where (or in whom) their strengths lie. Apparently they frequent a Cappella festivals all over the world, they were flying to Berlin the next day, so they’re worth keeping an eye out for.

Next came Degrees of Error‘s improv show, Murder She Didn’t Write, the show that probably had the greatest influence on our Fringe experience, as we searched through the Fringe guide afterwards looking for more improv. The show itself involves 5 actors acting out a murder mystery, the title having been suggested by an audience member (this time it was The Case of The Missing Monet). I think they have a vague idea about their characters beforehand, but the details of the murder, the investigation, and the resolution are all improvised. It was so much fun watching them come up with things on the spot, and even though it didn’t always seem completely logically, their attempts to justify those moments were possibly even funnier.

Later, we went to another improv show, that was part of the PBH Free Fringe, The Improlympians. One of the members wasn’t there that night, so it was just two of them doing an entire play improvised based on audience suggestions. It was quite funny, but I didn’t enjoy it that much, thinking back to it. One of them (Neil, I think) was a little two overbearing, and wasn’t so much on the ball, while the other guy was, so it ended up being a little all over the place. It was good to have gone to something at the Free Fringe though.

And so that was day 1 of the Fringe for me, which was great, and was very excited for what was coming in the next two days.

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