In the last twelve days I have achieved many Fringe musts (and must-nots). This is my list of classic Edinburgh Festival Fringe haps and mishaps that I imagine pretty much everyone experiences when they visit the biggest and most amazing arts festival in the world.
– A lengthy sprint from The Pleasance Courtyard to Summerhall. I have checked on Google Maps and the actual distance between them is only 0.7 miles, but it felt like several. If you’ve been to Edinburgh Fringe before, you’ve probably experienced and/or witnessed the following: Show A overruns, Show B is starting in 10 minutes, 0.7 miles away, and you are to be seen by approx 40 thousand people dashing down the bus lane on Nicholson Street (world’s longest street*), braving death by public transport to avoid the crowds, in order to make the show you’ve paid £11 to see. You make the performance in the nick of time (or don’t), not so much sweaty as soggy, and sit through the next hour show cringing, swabbing and willing people not to move too close to you.
*Probably not true.
– Bad discos abound at Fringe – horribly well-lit, squelchy carpeted, post-adolescent despair conventions. Usually free. (I have considered the possibility of The Bad Disco of Edinburgh being a performative social experiment in which disco-ers unconsciously participate in a theatre-of-life style cabaret of social dis-graces. Haven’t entirely rejected this theory.)
– Piemakers. Best and most varied choice of pies in this whole fair city. Nicholson Street. Go there and eat one of each.
– Getting wet. Having enjoyed the obligatory Fringe soaking, I hope to be able to cross that one off the list. Haha.
– New town. If you start to miss what normal city centres look like, a trip across George IV Bridge will bring you to where the likes of Primark and John Lewis have been corralled into a convenient ghetto of commercialism, leaving the picturesque heart of the festival unoffended by the presence of a MacDonalds.
– Pleasance Courtyard after hours – a vibrant hub of festival energy where you are most likely to spot and possibly befriend a famous comedian.
– Flyer Rage. The rage that settles like a red mist after so many hours, days, weeks of people offering you flyers c-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y. When struck by Flyer Rage, control the urge to glare, or attack. Just say ‘no thank you’, politely, every time.
– Ceilidh! Who needs the gym when you have wild scottish folk dancing? (Rollercoaster rules apply: Do not attempt if you have a weak heart or are small and light enough to be seriously injured when you go flying while stripping the willow).
– The ‘what in the heck was THAT?’ show – there’s always one. At least one.
– Old friends – At Fringe you are 90% likely to bump into at least one of the following a) one of your uni lecturers b) someone from primary school or c) someone who used to come in a lot when you worked in that cafe/bar/shop in the evenings and/or weekends and who you got on quite well with. I have already ticked off B and C and am expecting A to appear any day now.
– Free Fringe. It’s all about Free Fringe this year – free shows are getting some white hot reviews so don’t dismiss it just cos it ain’t got a ticket price!
– Theatre fatigue. Everything is boring, I am entirely unmoved – but that may because I’ve been to see 12 shows today and I have almost forgotten the sunlight.
– Fringe Flu. Like Freshers Flu but worse because you’re older.
– Buses! You need exact change. You will not be allowed to buy a £4 ticket with a £5 note. Mental. But true.
– Arthur’s Seat at dawn: The intention, anticipation and prospect…. not the actual achievement, which would be cold and difficult. Not managing to climb Arthur’s Seat at dawn is one of the highlights of the Fringe Festival.
This list could go on indefinitely. This is just some of the things that I have particular affection for that are special to Fringe. We’d love to hear yours if you’ve got some to add to our list – tweet them to us @The_Lowry with hashtag #LowryAtFringe