Edinburgh Fringe Festival: Review and Recommendations

After a wonderful whirlwind four days at the Edinburgh Fringe I’ve selected some of my key highlights that you can still catch before the world’s largest arts festival comes to an end.

KIN

The only show which compelled me to give a standing ovation! Barely Methodical Troupe‘s first show Bromance was my show of the Fringe in 2015 so KIN had a lot to live up to and it didn’t disappoint.

This group offer circus with a bit of a difference; they blend in a story with minimal dialogue and manage to create shows with humour and pathos alongside many jaw-dropping stunts and tricks. Be prepared for regular gasps from the audience.

KIN focuses around a simple premise of competing within a group for approval, but even without any story, this show is standing ovation-worthy for the sheer skill of the performers. Barely Methodial Troupe simply make circus cool.

On until Saturday 26th August at the Underbelly Circus Hub in the Meadows.

Police Cops In Space

The clue is in the title. This show is silly, funny and an absolute riot. If you want to see three actors perform numerous roles, take the mickey out of multiple movie tropes whilst clearly having a lot of fun, then this show by The Pretend Men is for you. I can guarantee you will leave smiling.

Catch this show at the Queen Dome (Pleasance Dome) until Sunday 27th August.

John-Luke Roberts: Look On My Works, Ye Mighty and Despair!

We were handed a flyer for this after leaving a comedy gig at the Tron and thought, “why not?” as we had a gap to fill. We were promised “surreal character comedy, bit like Mighty Boosh by a comedian who was trained by the same guy who trained Sacha Baron Cohen”. And surreal it was. For the first five minutes after Roberts entered the stage wearing a blanket and floral crown, speaking in a garbled medieval accent, we shared a look of “oh no, what have we done?”, especially as the audience were in stitches and it was going way over our heads.

Once we settled in to the comedian’s world we ended up loving his show and crying with laughter. We met a whole host of quirky characters over the course of the hour, and after becoming part of their mad-cap world it felt sad to go back to reality.

John-Luke Roberts is at the Monkey Barrel until Sunday 27th August.

Séance

We stumbled on this on a whim when we had another gap in our schedule. Séance takes place in a shipping container outside of the Summerhall Venue and the premise is simple: 20 people enter the small space, sit around a long table, place on surround sound headphones and once the lights go out, the fun (or terror) begins.

Before entering you are advised that if you find the experience too much, to simply remove your headphones and wait till the end, as the performance is only 15 minutes long. I scoffed at the notion of anyone not wanting to sit through a 15 minute experience. I was wrong.

I’m reluctant to give much away, but this event had some of the smartest use of sound I have ever experienced. The effect of which at one point had me moving away from what felt like a person speaking right in front of my face, yet the logical part of my brain knew it simply wasn’t real. Darkfield have managed to create a show which feels incredibly intimate and unique for every audience member.

Séance subtly plays with suggestion and avoids cheap thrills, and I’m sure some people walk out of it shrugging their shoulders. I’m not ashamed to say I was shaking, frightened and squeezed my partner’s hand the whole way through. I came close to removing my headphones but was determined to stick it out, and I’m glad I did. When we left the container and staggered back out to the daylight, a punter in the queue for the next session saw me and said “blinking heck look at her reaction!” which says it all. My other half came out buzzing with ideas on how they could have made it even scarier…

If you’re brave, Séance is on until Saturday 26th August.

General Edinburgh experience tips:

Saturdays: I had forgotten just how manic the Fringe is on a Saturday. Ensure you allow an extra 5-10 minutes to walk to the venues as it really is that busy. Pre-book all your show tickets for a Saturday. All. Of. Them. We took a chance on a comedian in the afternoon and missed out on entry, but after that didn’t have time to squeeze in another show so lost out. It pays to be organised on this popular day.

Camping: We stayed on the official Fringe campsite, which is a 20 minute bus ride away from the city centre. We paid £30 a night; significantly cheaper than anywhere central, even student halls. You can pay an extra £10 a night to have a tent pre-erected but I honestly wouldn’t bother as they aren’t huge and were also swamped in mud when we arrived (in fairness the staff can’t control the weather, but I wouldn’t fancy crawling in mud to get to my tent).

The toilets are clean, the showers hot and the staff lovely. The only downside is we underestimated just how close it is to the airport so it took a couple of nights to adjust to just how loud the planes are when taking off, so take earplugs. I would stay there again, but make sure to remember the buses back on a Sunday night are not as regular as the rest of the week!

Food and Drink: You will do a lot of walking, sometimes a lot of rushing and keeping snacks and water on us was a big help, especially as the bars and cafes aren’t always cheap. We also redeemed some Tesco Clubcard vouchers, which meant that we may not have eaten at independent places every night but we did save a lot of money. We had great service at Café Rouge (I was cynical but we had a lovely meal), amazing cocktails and Asian fusion food at Soba and on our last night enjoyed delicious seafood and wine at the beautiful Ecco Vino.

To avoid this article being too long, I forced myself to be selective, but I also really enjoyed Morgan and West, Tom Ward, Labels, Simon Amstell, Lloyd Griffith and Comedy In The Dark, so if you would like to hear more on those shows get in touch.

It’s hard to imagine anyone not enjoying the experience of Edinburgh Fringe, it truly is special and deserves every bit of hype surrounding it. Now, I’m off to pre-order the 2018 programme…

 

Image via Barely Methodical Troupe

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