Fringe Festival ’17: Wondrous

On our last day in Edinburgh, we did a little sightseeing.

IMG_7034

Catching up with this dog, whose statue was erected due to the faithfulness it showed to its late master. After the dog’s owner died, the dog could be found daily at the cemetery, to be near him in death. It’s a touching story, and a sweet statue. Rubbing the nose is supposed to be lucky, hence the gold.

IMG_7049

Start of the Royal Mile – St Giles Cathedral.

IMG_7052

Entrance to Edinburgh Castle…

IMG_7056

…and the view from it.

We didn’t linger in the castle (as it was paid entry, and we had shows to see), but we stayed long enough to take a few photos.

IMG_7060

IMG_7064

My friends ❤

IMG_7072

I’m not exactly sure what this building is, but it’s part of the old town – it’s accessible from the castle and Royal Mile. We were looking at the street performers in front; they had three people ‘balanced’ on each other. At closer glance, one of these wasn’t even real. Spooky effect.

IMG_7070

IMG_7082

Parliamentary buildings! Closed, so we weren’t able to see inside – but still impressive.

IMG_7129

IMG_7138

IMG_7088

Team Fringe ’17.

IMG_7135

This was a recreation of a photo that we’d taken five years previously – in joke.

IMG_7090

Wandering over, we headed back to the throng of the fringe (though really, we’d never left it).

IMG_7097

Everything about the fringe is so colourful.

IMG_7098

How much more interesting is this room with all the posters lining the surfaces?

This was the venue for:

A Heart at Sea

This was special. It just so happened that the two last acts that I saw at the fringe were the two best, and this was one of them.

It’s a folktale told through music, puppets and a remarkable wooden chest which opens quite magically to unveil different scenes and backdrops. It was heartrendingly beautiful.

The story is of a boy who lives in a fishing village with his sister; there’s a lovely rousing song about the two of them racing down the hill each morning to see the boats – accompanied by the sweetest puppets moving through the charmingly presented town. Peter manoeuvres the puppets, while Avi sings & narrates.

One day, the boy’s sister doesn’t come back on the boat – heartbroken, he takes his heart out of his chest and gives it to the sea. He thinks that he’ll have no need of it anymore.

Years later, he misses his heart – he can’t feel anything but grief, and he wants to move on. The story then follows his journey to find his heart, that he might one day be happy again.

There are so many elements to this performance that are so expertly done, that they really do come together to create a masterpiece. It’s reminiscent of the pixar shorts – but better, as its live and there’s singing and everything that they’re doing with puppets is just so remarkable.

The Chest

The majority of the action takes place on the Magic Chest (I’ve named this; it fits). There are a few moments where the narration takes a ship moving through the sea, and here the lights dim, and a tiny spotlight is fixed on a tiny puppet boat, which is drifted on the back screen. It’s very effective.

The rest, though, is set on the chest.

IMG_7102

I really wish that this photo did it justice.

Opening up different compartments, turning it on it’s side, and tipping it upside-down (as it is now) presents a different landscape, a different part of the story. It’s incredibly versatile and really did create a new world.

The Puppets

The puppets were expressionate. The protagonist – the boy who lost his heart – is doleful and sweet in a distinctly human way. The sea caption (who he befriends on his voyage), is all nose, and bushy beard. It shouldn’t work, but it does – and it’s so funny. The puppets are moved expertly too; they have a number of different pulleys to allow limb movements, and they do move in a very human-esque manner. It’s completely believable.

The Songs

The songs. Avi’s voice is so beautiful, and she accompanied with piano and guitar. The songs were thoughtfully composed – the lyrics sweet without being saccharine, and the songs ranging in mood to keep up the energy and fit the story. Everything about this show was delightful, wholesome and expertly done.

Austentatious

This was completely different to A Heart at Sea, but similarly brilliant. It was in the Underbelly auditorium, which looked like this.

IMG_7108

So fringe.

It was a big audience – about 200 people – and it was just ridiculously hilarious. I was laughing so much, I was crying.

A cast of six, presented ‘the lost play of Jane Austen’, improvised based on audience suggestions. Ours – ‘Bingham’s Bilingual Bigamy’. They made a touching story of a mysterious Spanish gentleman, who comes to England with his father to woo a young Englishwoman. He has a terrible secret (his bigamy), and she a fondness for a certain officer. There are balls, clandestine conversations, and flirtations – and it’s all just terribly funny. The cast gel so well together – just completely in sync.

There’s something self-referential about the comedy; they keep poking fun at the style of their show, of improv. For instance – one scene starts with Mr Bingham’s father introducing the scene by walking his son into his new ‘Salso Dojo’. Mr Bingham Jr. looks at him askance. Why is there a salsa dojo? How is that something normal? And they don’t live in England, aren’t they renting? It’s self-referential, and all the funnier for it. They seems like they’re having fun, and it makes all so much fun for us.

It’s also incredibly well structured. For an hour-long improvised play with six cast members, they created a full story, with exposition, climax, plot twists etc. It was all very Jane Austen, and it never felt like it was rambling, or overdone. It was the best improv I’ve ever seen, and one of the funniest. As said above, literally crying with laughter.

And that was the fringe! Amazing, beautiful experience – and one I hope to repeat next year, and many years to come.

Would have totally seen this one, if I had time:

IMG_7131

Looks amazing.

IMG_7125

Until next year, Edinburgh…

IMG_7022

… simply wondrous.

 

Submit a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s