Approaching midway through the fringe, with the initial adrenaline finally starting to ebb away, today probably wasn’t the best day to pick to see some emotionally charged material. Nevertheless, the day began with Ups and Downs, a play set in the afterlife’s waiting room, with some newly deceased people having to deal with the secretary, caseworker and Holy Ghost deciding on their destination (he deals with the easy ones before passing others on to the other two) – or is it that you make your own decision? Are your actions enough, or is it the thought behind those actions? An interesting take on the issues, especially in the case of the teenage suicide.
Chandrika Chevli was run over by a taxi 40 hours before she was to begin her 2009 Fringe show. In this packed show at the Royal Mile Tavern, she took us through what she was like before the accident and what happened afterwards (in the immediate aftermath, pieced together from others as she has no memory of that time) with her recovery. It’s truly amazing what our bodies and brains can do and cope with, and how they do so, and this was clearly present in her humourous and sometimes emotional talk.
Spot of queuing for some tickets was followed by Keepers, a play about two lighthouse keepers on the Smalls, off the coast of Wales. It had very interesting musical accompaniment, including a headless clarinet to produce a very convincing sound of waves, and lovely uses of mime/sound to convey the feeling of the lighthouse; I left feeling quite alone in a large crowd (read Lyn Gardner’s review for more).
Nick Mohammed is Mr Swallow was a large contrast; remembering an entire pack of cards and someone’s mobile phone number (come on audience, don’t sit on the front row if you don’t want to get involved, and how hard is it to make up 9 numbers if you don’t want to actually give your number?!) amongst a quite annoying catchphrase and some very funny interplay (the violin playing was hilarious). This was soon after followed by Pappy’s, a sketch show with three blokes. I think I’ve decided I’m not a great fan of sketch shows; don’t get me wrong, this was very funny, especially the running Justin Bieber joke, but I just didn’t enjoy it tremendously.
Last act of the day, and it was a cracker, was Smoke and Mirrors at the Famous Spiegeltent (which, it turned out, was not the same tent my friend Susie had acted in in Beauty and the Beast in Oxford last winter). Classic circus cabaret, from tap-dancer vaudeville to magicians turning doves into ducks to the bearded chanteuse, all accompanied by a very accomplished four-piece band and all effortlessly held together by the compere (who must have made a cracking Hedwig). I left with a palpable sense of wonder – it had been a rollercoaster of a day.