To keep ourselves inspired, and allow us to continue to design and create we understand the importance of going and seeing what else is out there, and us Vortex Girls LOVE a road trip! Where else could be better than to experience the eclectic mix that is the Edinburgh Fringe?
This blog comes to you from beneath the duvet, as I arrived home with ‘FringeFlu’, common occurrence apparently. Not surprising as we spent 52 hours at the Festival, only 11 sleeping, walked over 20 miles and took in 11 shows, 2 exhibitions, numerous street-performers and a fair few Rum cocktails….
When the programme dropped through the door, we set about with our highlighters marking what interested us – the criteria loosely being a) visual, b) experiential theatre. (We skipped the cabaret, comedy and music section as we expected to happily stumble across these through recommendations while there, and have you seen just how many listings there are?!). Once we’d worked out what clashed with what, and what we really didn’t want to miss, we had 5 shows we bought tickets for and a list of possibilities. Can I also say at this point how fabulous the official website and app is?
One of the best things about the Fringe is the opportunity to have a good nose about buildings and places you might not ordinarily find, or be allowed into like the beautiful and intricate exhibition of Otar Imerlishvili within the Assembly stairwell. One of our favourites were the apartments at the top of the India Buildings (cleverly transformed for a theatrical experience for Cirque Tsuki). Closely followed by Barbados, which appeared to be a bit of an abandoned, probably derelict space converted into an authentic beach bar – up two flights of stairs. While sipping cocktails on the swinging hammock chairs, we wondered who had the unfortunate job of bringing all the sand up.
L’Enfant Qui was our first show of the festival in a tailor made big top filled with wood and earth, transporting you far from the city. Inspired by the early life of the sculptor Jephan de Villiers it combined physical theatre, acrobatics, puppetry and live music to create a poetic and visual spectacle. The space held about 100 people in the round, and it was great to be so close to the performers, even when axes, bodies and poles were only inches away. It was one of the Highlights of our trip along with Dr Longitudes Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie.
One moral of our trip: words are a loose representation of reality, and being seduced by a photo only slightly bigger than a postage stamp often leads to things not being quite what you expect. Bark took place within Woodland Creatures, where we enjoyed some great food pre show. While we ate, we realised that what we had come to see might not be quite what we were expecting when chatting to performer Bram before hand “if you like two men shouting at you for an hour, you’re in for a treat” were his passing words. Garth Knight had created a beautiful tree like installation with images of his other work nestled within the branches which provided a great surrounding for the treat which was Bram and Sam’s Performance poetry Utopiapocalypse.
Being open to random suggestions is a key bit of advice to enjoying the Fringe. Post-its (Notes on a marriage) and Adrift had escaped the highlighter pen, but both combined clever script with outstanding performances. Randomness also helps to put what you like into perspective, and informs you of what you don’t. We were obviously not drunk enough for The Drunken Lion, and A Collection of Grimms fairy tales was far too sugar coated for our palette. The Brian Experience did have us laughing out loud and wondering just how a man can look like the dragon from the Neverending story…
Our favourite experience from the Festival had to be Dinner is Swerved. Difficult to describe without giving too much away, it was two hours of ritualistic culinary delights interspersed with games, live music, theatre and comedy. Utterly brilliant!
It was our first experience of the Fringe, and certainly won’t be our last but we are quite glad of the year to recover and prepare!