So in amongst the thousands of shows, tons of flyers and many sore heads, one of the most joyful surprises of the festival so far has been the sunshine! Pounding the streets of Edinburgh doesn’t seem so tiring when you’re not cowering under an umbrella, so all in all it’s been a good start.
The Festival seems to be going through quite a shift this year, with venues expanding and swapping sites and people moving between the old and new town again. After a quiet 2011 (with Assembly, George St shutting for refurbishment), New Town is livening up again – The Stand has now set up shop in Assembly on a newly pedestrianised George Street, and with the famous Spiegeltent returning to the festival and based right outside, festival goers seem to be flooding back to the area. This is also helped by Northern Stage’s fantastic programme of work at St Stephens. The venue is a really exciting place to be this year, with shows from Dan Bye, Third Angel, Rashdash, Will Eno and Gary Kitching/Greyscale (amongst other equally impressive theatre makers).
A lot of time has been spent at the Traverse, where Caroline Horton’s Mess premiered on 3 Aug, and which China Plate is producing. As Mess was part of both BiteSize and the Triggered@Warwick programme, it was a really exciting moment to see it finally open in such a great venue. The show has received some fantastic responses, with some lovely four star reviews in The Herald, Financial Times, Time Out and Metro and five stars in ThreeWeeks and Theatre Guide London. All of these are being collated on the Mess blog where the characters, Josephine, Boris and Sistahl will be posting throughout the festival, as well as tweeting from @MessMottos. It’s well worth a read! The show has also had some overwhelmingly lovely reactions from audiences on twitter, which you can read here.
I’ve managed to see some really great pieces of work so far – I really enjoyed Strong Arm at the Underbelly (which is part of the Old Vic New Voices programme), a dark look at one man’s need to be both forgotten and noticed all at once, written and performed by Finlay Robertson. Daniel Kitson’s As of 1.52pm GMT on Friday April 27th 2012, This Show Has No Title is incredibly funny and charming, as is Gary Kitching’s part improvised show (with a brilliantly dark twist) Me and Mr C at St Stephens. I’d also recommend Dancing Brick’s Perle – a measured, quiet and intimate look at grief and emotional isolation. After seeing a lot of shows that, whilst brilliant, weren’t exactly a laugh a minute, it was great to watch Pony Dance’s Anybody Waitin? at Dancebase – a simple, unashamed 60 minutes of pure fun.
On my return, I’m also hoping to find time to catch the West Midlands theatre company Fat Git performing their show Uninvited at Bedlam, and Bullet Catch at The Traverse. And I’ve been told to expect great things from Chris Goode’s Monkey Bars which is coming to Warwick Arts Centre in October!
The baton has now been passed to Ed, who will be reporting back later this week. You can follow him on twitter @YourOldChina.