A whistle-stop tour through a first-timer’s experience of the Edinburgh Fringe.

There are a lot of shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. Fortunately there exists a thing called the Fringe Guide which provides the performance dates and times of almost every show, organised by genre and accompanied by a couple of sentences describing the show. One thing the Fringe Guide cannot tell you is what shows are playing at any specific time; whilst the times of each show are provided, one must first have a show in mind.

As a way of overcoming this, many of the more highly produced shows place pairs of posters in short intervals along entire streets, until the recurring double image is seared into memory. For shows with tighter expenses, this method is infeasible. It’s common for posters to become a target of minor vandalism, with faces of popular comedians torn away and the occasional use of spray paint. My particular favourite was a poster for ‘Gareth Morinan – Truth Doodler’, across which someone had sprayed ‘WHY?’. On one evening I saw a young child passing that poster with his mother, shouting “We saw that, we saw that”, before proceeding to beat the poster with his fists. Posters are insufficient.

Dominic as The World Over’s gryphon – a regular fixture for flyering on the Mile

Flyers. Like posters but smaller. A flyer contains the necessary details of the show and unlike posters, you can guarantee that people have taken in the information, even if they throw the flyer away as they walk off. However, there’s more to flyering than flyers, else it’d be little more than handing out the relevant page of the Fringe Guide. Flyering, in essence, is the practice of creating the atmosphere of the production for passers-by in order that they can gauge whether or not they’d  be intrigued by a tale of epic fantasy adventure… a lost prince in search of a country that no one believes exists… eight actors play 40 different characters… monsters, pirates, gryphons and two-for-one with this flyer!

Flyering does things to the mind. Images of the Royal Mile and a vast bolus of shifting bodies, of a Fringe Guide made flesh, cursed to wander the earth and tell its tales eternally. On two successive nights I dreamt that I was in a dilapidated hotel, handing out flyers to laughing couples. In the last week the cast were relinquished from three hours to two, leaving us more time to recover and staple reviews onto flyers.

Of course, there’s more to the Fringe than flyers. There are shows as well. As previously mentioned, quite a few of them, making it pretty much impossible for you to see all the ones you’re interested in. Out of the shows I did see, here are the especial choices and production companies.

‘East of the Sun, West of the Moon’
Homespun Theatre Company

Epic fairy tale. The best show at the Fringe and a children’s show, no less.

‘The Jhiva of Nietzsche’, ‘Here’s What I Know About Humans, by Lulu the Dog’, ‘Yoga for Performers’
Theatro Transcendental

Cyprus-based theatre company aiming to contribute positively to the development of human consciousness.

Once upon a time (in space)
The Mechanisms

Space pirate steampunk storytelling musical cabaret.

 

Dominic Kimberlin

Image by Magnus Sinding