Saturday, August 13, 2016

Shakespeare for Breakfast

My reason for being in Edinburgh yesterday was to continue some curling history research at the National Library of Scotland, above. It's a place I know quite well, with its helpful staff. The results of that research should be on another blog, in the not too distant future.

So it was the early train out of Lockerbie, and, it being Fringe season, I headed first for C Venue 34 on Chambers Street on the off chance there might be a single ticket for Shakespeare for Breakfast at 10.00. Yes, the free coffee and croissant was an added attraction.

But sadly, the show was sold out, and no tickets were available at the box office ...

... but wait! A woman had handed back one ticket, because her friend had been unable to attend. And I was given this, for free!

So I did get my coffee and croissant, and watched a wonderful 'adaptation' of A Midsummer Night's Dream. There should have been a health warning. I'm sure it is not natural to laugh so much that early in a morning! The offering was from C Theatre, the in-house company at the C Venues, and Shakespeare for Breakfast has been a Fringe favourite before. The stars this year were Roseanna Connolly, Johnathan Davenport, Emily Jane Kerr, Laura B Mortemore, and Noah Young, ably assisted by a feather ferret and three members of the audience.

Great fun! And a special thank you to the kind person who allowed me to have the spare ticket. The show's on until the end of the festival, and I recommend it highly, if you can get in.

But then it was back to work in the library. Hopefully, after such a good start, it would be a good day.

And it was. My 'work' done fairly quickly, I had time to explore the 'You Are Here' maps exhibition at the library. Now, I use the NLS maps website a lot, and this is a wonderful resource. But it was wonderful to see the display of 'real' maps and other items from the NLS collection. The Library's maps' collection is one of the largest in the world, and at Edinburgh they are rightly proud of this. The exhibition content is outlined here.

This runs until next April, and I'll certainly be back to visit again.

And it is International Map Year, see here.

How would the rest of the day pan out?

No, not a RMT protest, but an advert for a musical. A possibility for a future visit, perhaps.

I ran the gauntlet of those touting for business. These two had made the effort. Great sax.

I came away with a bundle of flyers to sort through, and I've already identified more shows that I think I will enjoy.

It is difficult to know what to go to, with so many performances on offer. Fine if you have favourite 'must see' things to head for, but daunting to pick out the good from the 'not so good' in the official programme. I caught this couple trying to make decisions on what to see, sitting on a wall outside the National Museum of Scotland, on their first day in Edinburgh!

I hope their Fringe experiences turned out well.

One way of doing it, is to have a favourite venue, and concentrate on what's on there. My favourite place is thespace@Symposium Hall, in Hill Square. It has the most comfortable seats of any venue in the city, that's the first thing to say!

I had bumped into Dr Phil Hammond putting out flyers for his own shows, and at Bookends' Simon and Garfunkel tribute, I was sitting just behind him. He seemed a really nice guy, and so I bought a ticket for Life and Death (But Mainly Death). This was my 'I've an hour to spare, what's on' pick yesterday.

What an interesting hour! It was much of Dr Phil's family photographs, and his life story, and that of friends and family, with much humour involved. But there was lots to contemplate. "Can we live and die with pleasure, purpose, compassion and modest medical interference?"

This was a talk that was very clever, funny, yet moving. As an NHS doctor working in the field of chronic fatigue, he knows what he's talking about. As next week I enter my 70th year, I took away much from his show. I think I've become a Dr Phil fan. I wonder now if I can fit in his late night show about the NHS? I bet that's good too.

His two shows run until August 27 at Venue 43.

Going to back-to-back shows is not necessarily the best thing to do, but I did want to see Dan Clews' 'The James Taylor Story'. Same venue, so it was exit Dr Phil, join the queue, and then find a seat in the auditorium again.

Now, it wasn't until the 1980s that a work colleague gave me a cassette tape (remember these?) of James Taylor's music. So I was a late starter. This tribute to the singer was absolutely delightful, with the story of the ups and downs of Taylor's life told using slides on the big screen, with Dan playing the hits. I loved it, and so did the audience!

Dan Clews' website is here. The run of this show will have ended by the time you are reading this. He hadn't been sure how it would go down at the Fringe, and so went for just a few dates. Hopefully this year's success will tempt him back again for a longer run next time.

So, a day without drums?

Don't believe it.

There was just time yesterday for me to see Samurai Drum IKKI again. 2016 is their fourth year in Edinburgh, and so the three women and their 'master' have built up quite a following. It was a sell out performance.

IKKI's performance is Japanese drumming at its most spectacular - colourful, technically brilliant, and fast, some might say frenetic!

I enjoyed the performance - this was the fifth time I've seen the group over the years. For a taster of the performance, here's a YouTube clip. They are spectacular. They work hard to promote their show, and deserve their success.

But whisper it, HIBIKI (here) are still my favourites!

I caught the train home, happy after a full, busy day. The last train out of Waverley for Lockerbie leaves at 8.15 pm. So the timetable ensures that oldies like me get to bed early, or in yesterday's case, got me home in time to watch the Olympic cycling team pursuit final. Magic stuff!

Photos © Skip Cottage

1 comment:

  1. I don't need to go, Bob, I can live off your obvious enjoyment for free!