Friday, 8 August 2014

The Chocolate Ocelot's 2014 Fringe - Day Six

Last full day!

Just had an idea for an Edinburgh version of Hellblazer called Costorphine. Probably played by John Hannah in a dirty mac slugging Irn Bru and chowin' down on tablet. There's plenty of infernal nightlife down on Cowgate for him to sort out.

Other news: Herself's phone went kaput yesterday when an especially uncharismatic director asked us to turn our phones off before a performance. Herself duly, foolishly, complied. I mean, who actually turns their phones off when they're asked? I certainly don't, but like the time-honoured feeble patting down of one's pockets when pantomiming sorry mate I haven't got any change, I usually just wave a greasy finger randomly over the screen. Also, the selfsame director insisted on delivering a long and dull fire exit awareness announcement before the start of his show, effectively killing all the energy in the room (that's a phrase I picked up from a performy friend earlier this week). Anyway, she turned it off, and then couldn't turn it back on again afterward. Needless to say, sadness ensued.

But all's well that ends well. The excellent Mr CJ Hooper fixed it the next morning using his finely honed Google Fu, thus saving us a tiresome trek to the nearest Geek Squad outpost of Carphone Warehouse. Well done CJ, well done.

On the down side she appears to be developing a croaky throat type cold. A condition which does not mesh well with CJ's partial deafosity. She may have to expand her limited sign language repertoire today from the three rude phrases that CJ's taught us, the naughty boy.

Random fact: apparently a conservatoire is a posh name for a sort of musical theatre company type thing and not the French name for a greenhouse built onto your kitchen as I had thought. Who knew?

Our rather fine holiday flat in the Rear Window apartment block off West Port has a kitchenette, divided from the living room by a fairly pointless wooden divide. You can lean on it and rap with your housemates in the (rest of the) living room or pretend to be a TV chef or the chicken from Parappa the Rapper. It is supported at one end by a sturdy vertical beam that I have thus far resisted using for a crap pole dancer impression.

(brief pause)

OK, scratch the resisted bit. Herself and CJ are duly impressed. Pretty sure that's what their facial expressions meant. Hurt me knees a bit doing that.

Recommended music and bar type place: the Cowshed down on Cowgate opposite Underbelly. Strewn with straw (is that a tautology?) and a couple of plastic cows, you can get a drink, plonk yourself down on a hay bale and enjoy whichever guys are banging out some rocking tunes in the performing area. Nicely different. I like the open holes in the frontage, so passersby can stop and lean in the enjoy the music and look a bit like Waldorf and Statler.

Distressing sight seen at the Assembly Hall (the building at the top of Mound Place that looks like Hogwarts with a cool Lawgiver statue of John Knox inside): woman on phone holding lead of little dog with back arched in that unmistakeable I want to do a wee or poo but I know I'll get in trouble if I do it here manner. Woman does not notice dog's distress and continues to speak on phone. Can a passerby (i.e. me, increasingly distressed myself by the imminent dog wee/poo jeopardy) possibly break the social hymen betwixt strangers and alert the phone woman to her pet's situation? The answer turns out to be no, craven that I am. There should be an app for this where you can send a Wee Alert! message to a nearby phone by Bluetooth and save everyone's blushes. Assuming dogs can blush.

Speaking of handy apps, I'm told that there's one for keeping track of everyone in a particular group so you can find each other more easily if the party gets split up (Never Split The Party!). So a bit like the map in World of Warcraft when you've joined a group for a bit of kobold bashing (not a euphemism) I imagine it has a funny name with an 'e' missing like Trackr or Mindr. Very handy. Also quite stalky. 'You spent a long time in the loos just now'. 'I thought you were going straight back to the flat - looks like you took a detour to check out the late night Castrati Rap Battle at the Frooty Goose'. And so on.

Right then. I think I've got all the idle nonsense out of my head now. Thanks awfully for bearing with. And now the reviews (puts on spectacles, shuffles papers).

Readers of yesterday's post will recall that due to chronic mismanagement of my time, I ended up carrying my laptop around for the entire day for no good reason. This fact in no way affected my enjoyment (or lack thereof) of any of the performances, but I just wanted you to appreciate that I ended up lugging the bastand thing over a distance of several Edinburgh miles without complaint (that last bit isn't true). I'm like that old Greek dude Cissyface or something. I think he had to roll a big ball up a slope only for a giant robot ant to roll it down again I think. I must admit that this was an episode of Ulysses 31 so the original tale may have had moderately less mechanical insects, more's the pity.

The Addams Family
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Assembly Hall

Staged by the same company who put on Avenue Q in the same venue last year, this is a great musical comedy. Not just the movie with songs, the plot sees little Wednesday Addams as a young woman falling in love with Lucas Beineke, a nice guy from a normal family. Familial tension and farce ensues, like Meet The Parents crossed with Rocky Horror. Great simple set (they have to be simple at a festival, where the stage is shared by several acts every day) and an effective chorus of grey ancestor spooks making the scenery changes. Strong singing voices, great songs and a few sweet dancing (and fencing) moves. A very professional production.

Physical Theatre
New Zealand Season / Te Matatini Kapa Haka
Assembly Hall (the distressed dog incident took place here)

A contingent of Maori people put on a lovely display of haka (war dances) and songs, complete with taiaha (them spears like skinny paddles with a blade at one end) and poi (soft balls on cords). Cue much stomping, brandishing and tongue waggling from the menfolk, and much hypnotic poi-swinging from the womenfolk. Some of the blokes look proper fierce with their tattooed faces and eye-popping expressions. By the end of the show I am full of tribal martialness, or possibly martial tribalness and am aching to get in another session of the pathfinder role-playing game with my Shoanti warrior woman Valka soon (certain readers take note).

Hamlet: Private Eye
Glass Dagger Productions
The Space on North Bridge

Now I'm not saying for sure that this was the show with the fire-safety director. But it might have been. My advice, if this is that show, is to ease off on the buzzkill announcements and get straight on with the show. As the title suggests, this is Hamlet as a noir private dick story. Sort of spoofy but perhaps not spoofy enough, or perhaps not serious enough, the individual performances are perfectly decent, but the action drags and might benefit from a bit more oomph. Even a few gunshots sound effects would help. The guy who played Hamlet would make a good John Costorphine though (see above).

And The Goat Remained A Goat
Richard Wiseman and the Creative Martyrs
The Voodoo Rooms

Part lecture, part magic act, part musical piece, the dry Richard Wiseman relates the life story of actual paranormal investigator Harry Price, who famously probed the most haunted Rectory Priory in the 30s, as well as debunking various psychic hoaxers and other strange phenomenon. Despite getting off to a bad start with an irritating admonishment that we had not applauded him enough at the top of the show (that sort of behaviour always gets my back up - earn your applause man, it's not a right), Wiseman won me over with some excellent stage magic, including a floating table trick with the lovely Herself ably assisting. Afterward we agree that she would make an excellent magician's assistant, being both bendy and distracting. The Creative Martyrs, a violin/cello duo sat in the corner like the ghost of Laurel and Hardy, supply mood music throughout and eerie Harry Price themed songs, including one about my favourite talking mongoose Gef. It was like a musical version of the Monsters Ghosts and UFOs book from my childhood.

Hendrick's Carnival of Knowledge
Hendrick's Carnival of Knowledge
Royal Circus

Though situated way north of the main Fringe action, Hendrick's is well worth a visit. We weren't able to shoehorn any of their actual talks into the schedule, but instead enjoyed a variety of unusual cocktails in their well-appointed bar. Though enjoyed may have been too strong a word for my Cucozade, a vibrant cucumber flavoured sherbet concoction. We are delighted to meet the director and artistic designer chaps, with whom we discuss the many fine artefacts dotted around the Georgian terraced house that they have taken over, including Peter, a ten foot tall rearing stuffed polar bear, and a variety of headless birds and framed crab pincers. We contribute to their Swan of Knowledge by imparting important facts. I bore them all with my fascinating discourse on the origin of the word vril, as in Bovril. They also have a mobile bar/library outside called MAAM which stands for something, and we discuss various mutual steampunky type friends with the chaps. A splendidly dressed site, and I only wish we'd had time to sit in on a lecture or two.

Das Vegas 3
Frank Sinazi
The Voodoo Rooms

As he says, worth checking your sensibilities at the door. Das Vegas revels in swinging offensiveness, hosted by the Fuhrer of the Board himself, Frank Sinazi. Expect intentionally lame Nazi puns, banging Sinatra tribute songs (my favourite is opening number Das Reich), and a mixed bag of guest artists. A decent turn from burka'd double act Baghdad's Got Talent, somewhat flat shock comedy from a stubbly vicar, a quick appearance from Saddami Davis Jnr and jiggly burlesque from Betty Grumble (I liked her Venetian mask style make-up). Rightly earning his place as the closing act was Jesus though - moving seamlessly from a beatific smiling procession through the audience (he touched Herself's head) and gradually stripping down to his messianic thong, he's a very fit Son of God and a lovely mover. More Jesus please.

As I slope back to base, the big laptop on my back inducing curvature of the spine, Herself and CJ stay on at the Voodoo Rooms for liquid enjoyment and the late night Ruby Darlings, two charming young ladies who I'm told do rude songs in not many clothes. Later on at the flat, I am treated to a rendition of their song about Bottom Sex.

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