Edinburgh International Festival Fringe

Review in Issue 8-3 | Autumn 1996

This year’s Edinburgh Festival was a cut above the rest. For the first time in many years, nearly every production I saw was a treat of some kind. The Pleasance presented the inspired lunacy of Peepolykus with Let the Donkey Go, the ever delightful Commotion with two glorious shows, and the Australian wondergroup Legs On The Wall, whose production of All of Me was one of the most dynamic pieces of physical theatre that I’ve ever seen. Over at The Theatre Workshop I caught up with Scarlet Theatre Company whose production of The Sisters was one of the venue’s more interesting productions alongside Tmu-Na, from Israel.

At the Assembly Rooms, the queues as always seemed to lead right down to Princes Street (the main drag), with Slava Polunin’s Snow Show the Fringe ‘Must See’. I passed on this production though, opting instead to join in the Festival atmosphere in the comfort of the Club Bar. In here I met up with Roland Muldoon, the big chief at The Hackney Empire, whose personal recommendations were Leandre Lunatic and The Wow Show. Again two shows missed this time around, but further examples of popular small-scale mime/physical shows. The Ballroom hosted Co Jérôme Thomas with their amazing juggling production Hic Hoc.

Presenting three very different pieces I was delighted to see the collaboration between set/props and movement, particularly in the stunning pendulum piece – this was object manipulation at its finest.

I then wound my way to St Bride’s, which hosted an emotive production by Lafayette, an American company, who described the scale of horrors of the Bosnia War in this strong piece. A Fringe First Winner, this production was intense and truly horrific in its detail. Trestle were also performing here with their shows Passion Fish and Top Storey, two popular and well received pieces. The Bedlam also had a great programme and I headed down to catch up with Rowan Tolley who was presenting a show in which he had directed a group of young people. For a piece of new work there were some great moments and it was well executed.

The Demarco European Art Foundation also had a busy programme, although unfortunately the Edinburgh party atmosphere once more claimed me victim. However, two of my fellow MAG reviewers managed to catch Ta Ta Di Di Teatro in Dr Zingaro’s Secret down at Demarcos, a little gem from this new young company and Theatre Credo from Bulgaria who performed Gogol’s The Overcoat which proved to be such a success they extended the run.

After a refreshment break on the top of Carlton Hill at the MAG Picnic I spent my Saturday evening at The Spiegeltent, which hosted David Strassman, the ingenious puppeteer as well as The Perrier Party and a nightly cabaret. The comedy and music weren’t bad – in fact some was very good.

The most outstanding act through had to be Jeremy Robbins, stripping off in the bath, a choreographed acrobatic routine to ‘It’s Raining Men’. Truly brilliant, though only five minutes long.

So, to whoever said the Edinburgh Festival should no longer continue, needs only to join me for a couple of weeks next year…