Friday 17th August
Sad Faces Remember it Differently
After the strangeness of yesterday's shows (see Thursdays reviews) it was surprisingly refreshing to return to watching comedy.
For the last few years 4 Sad Faces have been plying their sketch comedy trade in the Free Fringe. This year they have changed tack, dropping 4 from their name, adding Rosie Fletcher to their gang, moving to a paid venue (the Underbelly) and I think, most importantly, leaving the unconnected sketch comedy format behind.
Sad Faces " Remember It Differently" does what it says on the tin. It takes one narrative story but we see it from each of the performers perspectives. This allows for a lot of silliness, ridiculous accents and props and unexpected plot variations. Each of the talented performers is allowed their moment in the spotlight, but it is Jack Bernhardt with his boyish, confused optimism (often misplaced) and Rosie Fletcher's assertive, self-confident (often misplaced) personas that steal the show.
The only suggestion I would make for future improvement would be more audience involvement. The show we watched was quieter than the quality of the material deserved but getting a rapport with (at least) one member of the audience should immediately get them on the performers side and therefore more vocal.
This was my 27th show of this year's festival and naturally shows are beginning to overlap with each other. But, one of my over-ridding memories of the entire week was " The profit of Poundland" sequence. Comedy gold.
Well done to all involved, you have found your true niche. (DC & AC)
Assembly Hall 16.05
Every year we try to see as many diverse shows as possible in our Edinburgh itinerary. We always like to select a dance piece but it is never easy knowing what to pick. So, for once I took the lead from the reviews and after seeing 5 stars scattered around I chose Seol and Co's "Hi-Kick" for our penultimate show.
This was billed as featuring "stunning dance and football" and it fully ticked both boxes. We meet some keen yet less than prolific footbalers having a gentle kick-around until they are out-played and outmuscled by a self-confident group of bully boys. Gradually, our underdogs improve their technique and have a final showdown against their less than gracious opponents. You don't have to be John Motson to guess how this ends.
This is an enjoyable show but at an hour it does outstay its welcome. The ability to control a football and invent rhythmic movement was impressive but there was only so much they could do with this format. They did, however, successfully connect with the audience ( today featuring a lot of children) getting them to clap along and even getting a couple of volunteers onstage to play keepy-uppy.
So far so predictable but I didn't expect this show to pull an emotional punch. So, when a female character ( whose catch-phrase had been " I love fotball") remonstrated that "fighting not football! I got unexpectedly choked up as this seemed to encapsualte why I have fallen out of love with the game at the top level.
A great way to enliven a festival goers week! (DC & AC)
NVA's Speed of Light
Holyrood Palace 22.15
In recent years the International Festivals brochure has included little to interest me. However, the moment I read about this concept I was tempted but I didn't book up until we arrived in Edinburgh and realised this was arguably the event of this year's festival.
Despite coming to 14 festivals over 26 years I have never yet climbed Arthur's Seat and so we chose to end this week's madness up this peak over-looking Scotland's capital. Naturally we took a chance on the weather and despite torrential rain the night before we picked a gloroius night to start our ascent.
We were warned that some parts would be strenuous and although I thought this was over-cautious Health and Safety speak, they were right. But armed with our light-sticks we headed ever upwards leaving the noisy chaos of a Friday festival night far beneath us.
This piece is several shows for the price of one. Firstly, it is an impressive work-out and after a week of indulgence ( including eating our weight in Indian food and downing a couple of bottles of wine just beforehand ) we felt we needed to. Secondly, with dusk falling the landscape was glorious and as we rose further the views of Edinburgh and beyond were spectacular.
Then there was the artisitic element of this show. The light stick was kept alight by the energy provided by previous walkers and runners and the flickering element at the top was generated by your own movements. Similarly, each stick was primed to release its own noise relating to your particular walking style and the resonances you created.
All this still isn't enough. As you walk along trying not to slip or slide off the path your eyes are constantly distracted by runners moving along the countryside wearing their own body lights. Whether you think they are ghostly figures, occasionally noisy as they cheer along, mad joggers or magical representations of the outdoor life etc you can make up your own mind.
Ulitmately, though this is a totally unique event especially as it was designed purely for Arthur's Seat as part of the 2012 Olympiad. I gather there are discussions with Rio De Janiero to adapt this spectacular for the 2016 Olympics. Let's hope they succeed.
For us, this was the perfect end to another astonishing festival.
Thanks to all concerned especially the group leader who always appeared just when I was about to experience problems and ensured I returned safely. Always a bonus at the end of a hectic week. (DC & AC)