Monday, 10 August 2015

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015: Post The First

Yes, it's that time of year once again. Prices double, population seems to quadruple, so many uncommon sights pile up that nothing becomes uncommon, and asking for a booking in any restaurant during the standard weekend peak times will have you sneered and laughed at as if you were Patrick Bateman trying to get a last-minute reservation at The Dorsia.

The usual highlights are in place. If you haven't been to see the Edinburgh Military Tattoo then I advise you to do so at your earliest convenience (I get the hesitation, especially when actually living in Edinburgh all year round, but trust me - it's a fantastic spectacle). The Ladyboys Of Bangkok have, in a way, become the flipside of the Tattoo. They have been coming here for many years now, and I'd be surprised if any of their shows weren't sold out. While I can't whole-heartedly recommend the show to all, I do think it's one of those experiences that you have to try once.

And, for those worried about money, the Free Fringe continues to grow and provide a wide selection of acts in an equally wide selection of venues (okay, most of them are pubs, but you have to make do with what ya got). Check out some acts, take a chance, and if you like someone then throw in a few quid. Even a fiver, if you really liked the show, will average out to be less than half the cost of a standard ticketed show. But be prepared to queue for quite a while if you want to see the good stuff. Word travels fast. If you're being offered free tickets for a show here in its second or third week - the sensible advice is to avoid it. Sorry, but it's a jungle out there.

I'm not sure what I'll be able to see this year, but I have already managed to get two shows under my belt. That may be it for me in 2015 - work is busy, money isn't limitless - but if I check out any more then I will once again bore folks with my opinion.

The first show I managed to see this year was a freebie. Edward Hilsum: Genie. This is a magic show designed, apparently, to remind people of how they felt when they really believed in magic, and wishes coming true, and maybe even happy ever afters. I think it would be good for children, but Hilsum just doesn't do enough to help the adults revert to the wide-eyed, childish state he wants everyone to get to. As nice as he appears to be, and I'm sure he's lovely, Hilsum just doesn't have any real stage presence. He also hasn't adapted a number of the more intimate moments to show off the tricks better to a wider audience (a cynic would almost think he was hiding too much). Worst of all, a number of his tricks work thanks to some very basic magic elements, which wouldn't be so problematic if Hilsum worked on the presentation to distract audience members a bit more. But he doesn't. There are a number of times during the show in which Hilsum implores the audience to not reveal any secrets of the show. I won't spoil things for anyone else, but I do suspect that anyone returning to the show will easily pick up on a few repeated "stumbles" amongst the smoother moves. It's clear that Hilsum fairly skilled when it comes to prestidigitation.. It's also clear that he has a long way to go before he creates a truly satisfying stage show for all.

Edward Hilsum: Genie is on at 1315 in The Voodoo Rooms most days during the festival - ***

Thankfully, the second show I saw this year was the astounding. Siro-A, who are, as far as I am concerned, unmissable, and unlike anything else you will see this year (well . . . . . . . . . . unless there's something similar here this year - which must be a 1 in 100 chance). Imagine if Daft Punk were Japanese and starred in an audio-visual stage show directed by Michel Gondry. I can't actually describe their act with words so either a) get your tickets for them NOW or b) at least watch this video.

Yeah. If that blew your mind then you're not alone. I was pretty gobsmacked by the time I left their show.

Siro-A is on at 1545, again most days, at the Assembly Theatre in George Square - *****

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