Monday, 17 August 2009

Turn East for Culture 09.

At weekend spent a couple of days over at Ed Fringe Fest for mish-mash of artistic performances. City very busy and usual chaos at bigger venues with overpriced bevvy - Tattoo was also on this time. But ticketing system worked very well compared to last year. My tip would be to anyone - buy all your tickets online even for wee venues (maybe especially for that).

Anyway breaking it down into artistic form

Theatre: Ended up seeing two double header plays - ie with just two actors: David Mamet's Oleanna and Tennessee William;s Auto -da - Fe. Both in pretty small venues but both sold out.
Never seen Oleanna before although I had heard about it. It centres around accusations of sexual harassment/misogyny(!) against an arrogant University lecturer (!!)from female student. It was very good and quite intense over a continual 90 minutes - same set of his office for 3 Acts. Partially it was about a study of language, power and lack of empathy/understanding for other people. It has a very polarised dynamic as a piece - male lecturer dominates in one part then female student. It asks a lot of the cast - it was probably a wee bit too much for the female lead -who was quite young: not entirely convincing though the guy was very good though both in his smugness and the crumbling of his position and the undercurrent of violence. Another interesting factor was that the production came from Zimbabwe and each actor was a different race- this was not fully developed (wasnt issue in original production) but obviously an undercurrent throughout. They were Pumpkin Pie Productions - an engrossing 90 mins - worth a look.

The Williams piece was a one act play from late in his career. Set in the South, where else, it covers a fairly tense conversation between man and his mother on the porch of their Southern villa. Covers all TW's usual themes: sex, repressed homosexuality, heat, fire and a bit more heat and a little more sex. This was excellent - 30 minutes flew by - both actors here (Americans) delved completely into the piece: showed themselves as very experienced. Although short for the theatre - not slight - a bit like a good poem, he added pompously! Poor flyer for the show though but apart from that highly recommended Location wise, it was just a wee room in the Radisson Hotel - a thing i like about the Fringe is the imagination given to venues - just converted into a studio theatre for the month.

Visual Art: Checked out a free show at the Ingleby Gallery - nice venue never been there before - good lighting. Show of Calum Innes an abstract expressionist was pretty disappointing though.
It was basically a set of large coloured squares halved with different colours in each and sort of blended together in the middle. All "Untitled" - sparked debate about whether u can get away with using untitled in any other artistic media. So not a lot to it - looked like he had developed a new artistic technique and was just experimenting with it over and over: so not really an exhibition at all.

Comedy: I'm always a little selective with the comedy i choose to see in Edinburgh there is so much garbage with identikit posters for identikit boys in suits telling anecdotes about moving in with their girlfriend - desperately searching for a place on a panel show on Men and motors or something. But hit the jackpot twice here - Andrew Maxwell an Irish guy who I had only seen wee bits of on tv - he won a channel 4 reality show couple years ago where comedians had to live together and perform a completely different show a night. Good funny relaxed show - master of his craft. Material is not ground breaking but hits the spot and at least takes time to remark about the specifics of Scottish culture. Ridiculously small bar for venue though - there's a bit of Scottish culture for you :-).

Tim Key was a poet who I had spotted on the Charlie Brooker show though apparently he has a big Cambridge Footlights fringe background. Show really good - combination of comedy, poems (again sparked debate whether they were real poems or not) and short films. Bit different and very engaged with audience in a distant way! Annoying heckling woman though - surprisingly little of that at Andrew Maxwell.

Funnily enough both acts finished with two physical displays (different to the preceding shows)- wont give it away by saying what they were.

Misc: Couldnt get into a couple of shows - neither the one on the Mafia nor Eric Morecombe. Had a cheap cocktail at top of Leith Walk. And watched the Celts first game of the season in Haymarket pub - usually a Jambo haunt.

So to finish this indepth analysis Ill revert to type and place an East coast stereotype at top of blog..

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