Fringe Festival ’17: Wet

One of the best, and most beautiful things about the fringe is the spontaneity.

We were settling down to breakfast and having a good chat about the proper way to serve tea (this cafe served in glasses – incorrect – a proper mug is required) and how we were going to spend our morning. We had shows booked for the mid-afternoon, but were looking for something to occupy ourselves until then. We got on the fringe app (indispensable) and found a ‘dark satire on media’ showing at a venue six minutes away, in twenty minutes time.

The fringe is just the best.

NSFW

A play around the humours and social behaviours of popular magazines, this was essentially a ‘loss of innocence’ story of a young, idealistic graduate navigating his way through the politics of first a ‘lad’s mag’ and then a Cosmo-esque women’s magazine.

My verdict is a tepid ‘good’. It was interesting and quite enjoyable, but the plot was lacking and the message was confusing in places. Characters were stereotypical, but acted with gusto. The play certainly didn’t lack for energy, and it was a pretty great way to start the morning.

Show highlight: the ending shot, of the female women’s magazine editor arranging her ‘Votes for Women’ sash, whilst the young grad (innocence lost) captions images of supermodels with descriptions of their physical flaws. A powerful ending.

Coffee break.

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I split up with the rest then – I’d booked ahead for:

Reduced Shakespeare Company

This was professional. Unlike the other acts we’d seen, this played to a large audience (around 100), and the actors were trained professionals. It showed.

The show consisted of three men performing William Shakespeare’s Long Lost Play – Abridged – which contains the early drafts of all his most famous works, structured by narrators (and mortal enemies) Ariel & Pack. At the end, Shakespeare himself arrives (in a very meta move, considering this is supposed to be his own writing) and decides to separate out this first, rough draft into 38 distinct plays. The rest – history.

The benefit of arriving early and alone, I was in the front row, on one side of the middle aisle. Best view in the house, but one of the most susceptible to audience participation. More to follow.

Three words: energy. The men bounced around the stage, performing all of the 40 characters with the aid of some wonderfully awful wigs & costumes. It was silly, ridiculous & impossibly hilarious.

Best moment: the Three Witches, having set up Lady Macbeth with a hapless & deplorably indecisive Hamlet, turn up later in the play as the three daughters of King Lear. Surprise!

Just. Amazing.

The climax of the play came to a head: a fierce sea battle between Ariel’s master Prospero, and Puck’s Lord Oberon.

This is where the audience participation came in.

Tiny water pistols had been handed out to about six audience members in the first two rows. I was one of the lucky recipients. As the players duelled on stage, we played our part in the dramatisation of the sea battle by spraying our water pistols at the performers. I was having a blast, and energetically played my part.

Until the performers drew out their own, much larger, water pistols.

They fired on the audience in retaliation. I had (ahem) been very much enjoying my responsibilities as water pistol carrier, and had hit of the players in the eye.

After lightly spraying the audience with his pistol, the man turned on me – and fired.

I was the only one who had it that bad; it was revenge at its highest. I was so soaked, my bra squelched. It was cold. Towels came out to clean up the stage, and my attacker took pity on me. As my head was towelled by a man I did not know, I thought: has audience participation gone too far?

I’m not a huge fan of being drenched, and my enthusiasm for the conclusion of the show was slightly dampened. 48 hours later, I can appreciate the funny side.

Hugely entertaining, and highly amusing. Would recommend.

Reduced Shakespeare was in a slightly different part of the fringe to the rest of our shows, and it was very pretty. Fringe likes bunting. And lights.

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Charming.

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