It’s the usual mid-run day off. I am exactly half way through: 12 down, 12 to go. All in all it’s been a good run thus far. On Thursday I was despairing that I hadn’t had enough reviews out. And I still haven’t but the List on yesterday meant I was able to get some stars up on my posters, and despite the lack of critical response this far I still sold out yesterday. That was my only moan, without the reviews the tickets weren’t shifting quite in the quantities they should. That said, we haven’t had a bad time of it. Saturday was almost a sell out and we’ve never gone below half full.
Last year’s run was considerably better than any Fringe run I’ve had before and we’re keeping in touch with that. And that show had no poetry and the word ‘crap’ in the title. And for last year’s show we had a number of gigs where we got an awful audience response. That hasn’t happened yet this year. I had one show when they were quite quiet but I still got laughs in all the right places, it was just about half the volume.
In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had a Fringe run with this consistent a response. I think it would be fair to say I can put that down to two things: better writing and better performance. I know this is the best show I’ve done and everyone I trust who has seen it agrees. I also spent a lot more time with James getting it right this time round and it shows. You always have weird days at the Fringe but if the show is good they (hopefully) never get too weird.
I’ve only made it to 3 shows thus far as when I’m not performing I’m on dad duties. All three I would recommend.
Paul Sinha: intelligent comedy with more gags per minute that than the really stupid stuff. Not sure how he does it. A lot of “intelligent” comedy means that it’s shambolic with flashes of brilliance. Sinha is as slick as black ice without ever going for a cheap laugh. Top stuff.
The Devoured by Badac Theatre Co. A relentless one man play about the Holocaust. Steve Lambert tells a Jewish prison camp detainee’s story from the shelling and raiding of his city (the name of which is never mentioned but I’m guessing Budapest or Prague) to his inevitable incarceration in a prison camp and the death of his family. Lambert’s techniques are not subtle but then neither was the murder of six million people. The tale is visceral and frenetic, what sets it apart from other Holocaust stories is the anger. The character is so angry and it makes you angry as well. Sure, we all know what happened in the Holocaust but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be reminded with a jolt every once and a while. Lest we forget, and it’s a powerful antidote to all the kitsch wackiness up here, a reminder of what theatre can do when it is not trying to please. A friend put it best, when I told her I was going to watch the play she said: “oh god, it’s not fun, but it’s fucking brilliant.”
Finally, I saw Seawall, which has been getting amazing reviews everywhere. A Bush Theatre production written by Simon Stephens and directed by my mate George Perrin, it is devestating in an entirely different way to The Devoured. A mere 30 mins it’s incredibly subtle and lyrical and leaves you with a hole in your gut. Any more and I’d give it away. It’s finished its run at The Traverse but catch it on tour or in London.
So, my day off. I’m going to have lunch with an old work colleague and perform with Tim Turnbull in Richard Tyrone Jones’ excellent Utter! cabaret event.
Also – on Thursday – don’t forget – PURPLE RONNIE’S STAND-UP POETRY CLUB – feat./ Phill Jupitus, Dockers MC, Luke Wright – The Udderbelly, Edinburgh. 23.45.