Friday, August 21, 2015

Fringe Days

I recall the years when I would spend a week or more in Edinburgh at various performances around the Festival and Fringe. These days I like to think I'm a bit more selective in what I spend my money on. And, of course, Skip Cottage is not as close to the big city as, sometimes, I would like.

This year, I've treated myself to a few days of 'culture'. Some of that has been searching out various taiko performances, see here. But I've also had a taste of theatre, recitals, dance, and musical theatre too, mostly picked at random. Some performances have been good, others ... well, let's just say that there are times when you come out and say to yourself, "That's an hour of my life I'll never get back." But that's the Fringe, of course.

In contrast, ALL my Japanese drum experiences this year have been exceptional. It's probably my scientific genes that have encouraged me to compare and contrast. I have enjoyed four different groups. All good, in different ways.

First of all, there was Terindaiko Seed's 'Advancement', at C, Venue 34, on Chambers Street, until Tuesday 25th, at 14.00. Full of enthusiasm and excitement.

Samurai Drum IKKI are at the space©Symposium Hall, Hill Square, Venue 43, at 17.10, but only until this Sunday (the 23rd). Technical brilliance. I went to see them twice, as I couldn't really believe what I'd seen and heard first time around!

Japan Marvellous Drummers are at the Assembly George Square Theatre, Venue 8, at 13.00 every day until the end of the month. A well travelled and accomplished company. Great drumming, and much more. There's humour, and if you would like to hear 'Scotland the Brave' played on a Japanese flute, this performance will make you smile.

The fourth group I saw was Japanese Drum Hibiki with 'Messages from Japan / Super-cussion'. Just four performers, with something really different. They are also at the space©Symposium Hall, Hill Square, Venue 43, at 18.20, until the 29th. If you have 50 minutes or so to spare next week, then this performance would be my recommendation. Hibiki are first timers at the Fringe and haven't, as yet, been getting big audiences. But they are great. The emphasis is on the traditional. They perform a new work, a Requiem for the 2011 disaster in Eastern Japan.

So, how much does it cost to bring the big drum - the Odaiko - all the way to Edinburgh? Sometimes this is played with a drumstick that looks more like a baseball bat, by the most muscular member of a taiko group. But in this modern world of equality, Edinburgh can now see a small Japanese lass pounding the 'big drum'. Impressive! You have to see it.

Fifty minutes you won't regret. Hai. Saiko desu!

PS Added later. Yes, I did go and see Hibiki again. Somewhat to my embarrassment, I discovered that they had found the review above, but I was recognised and warmly received, both before, and after, the show.

Here is everyone involved, relaxing after another great performance. What lovely people!

Pic © Skip Cottage

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