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  • Writer's pictureThat Stagey Blog

Day 5 - Edinburgh Fringe

Updated: Aug 20, 2019

I woke up after sleeping on my friend Tina's sofa surprisingly well. The benefit of being 5 foot 5, is that I can neatly compact into any sleeping area. Tina had her cast coming round for a line read, so I took a shower and then sat in her bedroom and did some work while they rehearsed in their living room. Forgetting that they were rehearsing, when a tense scene came up and I heard raised voices, I actually they were arguing among themselves. It's testament to their acting that I believed it. Damn they're good, I thought.

Tina was going to watch a show, so after she kindly gave me some breakfast, I went to the Fringe Central building to carry on working. I was a bit snowed under and wanted to catch up with admin, I had three interviews to edit and upload as well as my daily vlog and blog. This is where I have really done with an assistant.

I got a fair chunk of work done before taking myself to watch Tina's play. It had begun to rain, as so my umbrella made it's first appearance since I got here. I stupidly went to the wrong venue, thinking that the play was on at The Pleasance Courtyard, when it was actually at the Pleasance Dome, which meant I had to run. The play had just started so an usher took me around and let me in through the side exit and I discreetly took a seat at the back of the theatre to watch.

The play is called E8 and had been produced by The North Wall. I had read that it had been written by Marika Mckennell, a spoken word artist. I'll be honest, this filled me a little with dread as I'm not the biggest fan of spoken word. However the subject matter did interest me.

Marika has written this play based on her own person experiences working in Alternative Provision Schools and Pupil Referral Units. It is a story about the young people who fall through the cracks in mainstream education.

My mother was a teacher, and a very good one, and for a time in her career she taught special needs and children with behavioural difficulties. I some times used to visit her at work and admired how good she was with her children. The show is directed by Ria Parry and produced by The North Wall Arts Centre and stars (my friend) Tina Chiang, Parys Jordan, Harry McMullen, and Alice Vilanculo.

The cast are all brilliant, especially Harry and Alice who skillfully play teenagers with a genuine authenticity. They are perfectly cast and masterfully switch between humour and anger.

The brilliance of this play, really is in the writing, which is so well observed yet superbly addresses a lot of social issues from the perspective of these characters so that it doesn't feel like they are preaching. The play provides an insight into young people in these situations and genuinely makes you think. I was very impressed.

E8 is on until 25th August

Tina had to run off after the show so I didn't get chance to see her to tell her how brilliant I thought she and the play were. I then made my way to Fringe Central to set up to interview the cast of I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical.

This was going to be an easy interview as I already knew the show, having seen it twice before in London, where my brother reviewed it at the Crazy Coq and I know the writer Alexander S. Bermange.

Alexander is self producing this show which has a brilliant venue as part of the Underbelly. Alex was saying how exhausting and all consuming it has been, which I can certainly understand. As well as promoting the show Alex plays the piano and performs in it. Along with the cast of four, James Hume. Felix Mosse. Charlotte O’Rourke.‬ and Charlotte Anne Steen.

James and I once went on a date a few years ago, and he was recently in the final cast of Les Miserables in the West End. Charlotte O'Rourke happens to be my friend Sam's sister. Two years younger than him, she trained at Guildford after Sam trained at Arts Ed, while I was there. I knew of Charlotte and had seen her last year playing Ali in Mamma Mia. Charlotte Anne Steen, is a client of my friend Peter's and I had met her when she was one of the performers at the show I hosted at Piano Works West End. I instantly clicked with Charlotte who was also in Bat Out of Hell. Felix is the only one I had not met, although I had seen him in Aspects of Love at the Southwalk Playhouse where he performed opposite my friend Madalena.

As they all arrived, they seemed slightly knackered, which is understandable as they are now more than half way into their run here at the Fringe. As a group they have been doing a lot of interviews to promote the show, and I genuinely did feel guilty for taking up their time and forcing another barrage of questions at them. But as I try to do with all my interviews, I tried to keep it jovial, and fun, it helped that I already had a rapport with James and Charlotte S as I called her. Charlotte O, instantly won me over. I text her brother afterwards to say, “Your sister is hilarious”. In the show she becomes the victim of an obsessive fan, I think that might be me now after meeting her.

The interview went well and was fun, although I missed out a few questions that I intended to ask, as I didn't want to take up too much of their time.

You can watch the interview here:

I then followed them over to the Underbelly to set up the tripods so that I could record the entire show. Chris Whittaker, who directed the show and rehearsed with the cast in London, has been unable to come up to see it, and so Alexander asked me whether I would film it for him to see, and so that I would have some footage from the show to use with my interview.

Chris had choreographed Judy! At The Arts Theatre for London Theatre Workshop where I was a producer. I was looking forward to seeing what Chris had done with the show and how it had evolved since I last saw it. With my tripods set up, and the audience in, the show began.

It is a brilliant show, very well written with clever lyrics by Alexander which reference lots of theatre and Broadway shows, with subtle nods to shows throughout the music. The cast are all brilliant and deliver all the wit and timing of the comedy, as well as sounding incredible. All four have superb voices and seem very comfortable on stage together.

Chris has worked well to enhance and draw even more out of show which was already in really great shape when I saw it at the Crazy Coq.

As the audience left, I over heard one man say “That's the best musical I have seen here”.

I Wish My Life Were Like A Musical. Plays until 26th August

I was pretty tired after the show, but hadn't seen much, and I didn't want to waste the time I have here. I was also beginning to feel a bit down. So far my trip to Edinburgh has been very different from last year. Last year I wasn't running the blog, and was simply watching shows for fun, and managing to see at least 7 or 8 shows a day, and then meeting friends in the evenings for drinks. I met some really lovely people and had a lot of fun.

This year I have been really focused on keeping on top of my work load. With each show I see, I post across social media to promote it, and then record a video for my vlog, and each morning I write and upload my blog and edit and upload my vlog. It's all quite time consuming, and I wish I had an assistant or an associate here to share the work load and the experience.

As much as I enjoy my own company, I am feeling a bit isolated here, and I'll be honest I am surprised by some people I know where are here and haven't reached out to me to ask to meet up. Although I am probably as much to blame, as I have been busy, and I know they are busy too.

My brother, and his girlfriend are coming up next weekend, so I am thinking I will now intend to see everything by Saturday so that I can keep Sunday completely free to spend time with them and give myself a day to myself rather.

So to round off the weekend, and perk myself up, I thought what better than to take myself to a drag show. Luckily for me, at 11.10pm The Divet Show- The Greatest Divas. Was about to start.

Performed by a trip of drag queens from Finland, Marko Vainio, ‬Henri Sarajarvi and Jero Makelainen. Have put together a show where they honour every pop star you can imagine. In quick succession, through lip sync and an array of costumes and wigs, they rattle through impersonations of pop stars such as Cher, Madonna, Katy Perry, Adele, Beyonce, you name them, they were here.

The impressions were very good, and each drag queen impressively great dancers. The venue was one of the lecture rooms belonging to the University which Edinburgh Fringe takes over and turns into a cabaret venue. At first I felt that this show belonged more in a venue where you could get out of your seat and on your feet, rather than being seated with the feeling that you were about to watch a slide show, however this effectively was a slide slow of talent as the troupe rattled through songs at breakneck speed, and to be honest this show deserves to be seen and appreciated for the spectacle it is, rather than feeling the compulsion to join in and sing along.

The Divet Show- The Greatest Divas is on until 25th

The show was exactly what I needed, as I grabbed some fish and chips and made my way back to the hostel where I was checking back in for the rest of the week.

The accompanying video for this week’s journal can be found on my YouTube channel here:

And the audio version can be found as a podcast here:

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