Twenty days, one hundred shows

This day approached a milestone at its end, my one hundredth show of the Fringe. But before that I had tickets for five other things, first of which was the Aspidistras’ Secret Breakfast Gig. Coffee and croissant included in the fiver, this was a lovely way to start the day, with sketches ranging from teaching us how to spell aspidistra, to one about an aspidistra competition. They weren’t all aspidistra based by any means, with a song on whether you want to be Steve Tyler or just be with him, and some twisted Australian kids TV (though not as twisted as Round The Twist was, remember that?), finishing with a rousing song about the Fringe to set us on our way.

Next was Two Brothers and One World Cup, a play about sibling rivalry, hatred and rapprochement based around events during the last eight world cups. The audience got to pick in which order the world cup stories were told, and the one we settled on appeared to make quite a lot of sense as a narrative, with both flashback and flashforward. I wonder how it feels played totally backwards chronologically.

Eric’s Tales of the Sea was described by Stewart Lee as ‘what the stage was invented for’ and you couldn’t think of a much better setting than Just The Wee Room at The Caves, with its curved roof, damp, and dark. I don’t think I could ever live on a submarine – I even got a bit antsy just hearing about decompression sickness – and these stories from an ex-submariner were tense, emotional, and yet also very humourous.

Colin Hoult (and supporting musicians, who were great) gave us a number of interesting and funny characters, including the dad trying to get his son to tell him what he wants for Christmas, the bullied schoolboy/shelf-stacker/old man, and the ex-army guy trying to write a screenplay. By the end, he had four members of the audience on their knees, chanting “pigs in blankets” – you had to be there.

Using the power of Twitter via Josie Long (thanks!), I gave away my spare ticket for Claudia O’Doherty’s Monster of the Deep 3D, which was a delightful hour of comedy about the last survivor of an underwater habitat, Aquaplex, built by various world powers back in the 1970s as a beginning to possible future human habitation, and which exploded 30 years later. Done in the style of a presentation by this last member, this included some amazing props (including one for each member of the audience at the end to use to see the reenactment of the last night of Aquaplex).

My hundredth gig, then, after a rather tasty wrap from those people who won that award for their other wrap (yeah, those ones), was Susan Calman, with Constantly Seeking Susan. Neither a Glasweigan, Radio 4 listener, or a lesbian (the three audiences Susan is normally known to, and she suggested she should get funding for bringing these people together), I was still thoroughly entertained. Reading us the rather depressing obituary for herself she’d written, and with memories of dying before (in Paisley) she then went on to discuss various aspects of this and how she would like to be remembered after she’s gone. Ferero Rocher, feminism, sleeping with people with the same name as your parents, everything was covered in this warm and funny hour.

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