A Fortean at the Fringe II
Richard Wiseman Unbound
Edinburgh International Book Festival
The Fringe Festival is not the only one taking place in Edinburgh a the moment, there is also the Festival itself and then there is the Edinburgh International Book Festival. These later two events differ from the Fringe in that events here are one off rather than a series of performances. This particular event was indeed a one off. In 2010 the Book Festival experimented with a series of free events (always a good thing) featuring one author for two hours. The particular one I found myself at was that of psychologist and skeptic Richard Wiseman.
Wiseman has a new book out which is a must read for all Forteans - Paranormality. You may disagree with some of the conclusions but the journey is worth it. This particular show however was not specifically about the book, it was more in the nature of an autobiographical journey showing how various aspects of Wiseman's life impinge on his views on the paranormal. Starting off as a magician he became interested in optical illusions, studied psychology at London, Phd at Edinburgh and ultimately professor of the public understanding of psychology at Hertfordshire University. So we were treated to a few magic tricks and descriptions of experiments through the course of a very enjoyable evening. An entertaining speaker.
Edinburgh Secret Society
Not a part of the Fringe but definitely taking advantage of the availability of performers the Edinburgh Secret Society is rapidly becoming an institution. Established in 1764 the membership of the society, both past and present, is shrouded in mystery. The events themselves are as secretive as you would expect and the attendees are asked not to
divulge what took place at any particular meeting. All I can say is that all present had a magical evening in the splendid and atmospheric Edinburgh University Anatomy Lecture Theatre and the monkey and the octopus are recovering nicely. If you're interested in future events (meetings are held at random times throughout the year) then be careful - this one sold out completely in nine minutes.
Fish and Game
St George's West
A short show - only 20 minutes in length so the short version of this review in honour is: - Wow! Let me elaborate. As well as being short it's a one person at a time experience, accompanied only by an ipad. With said ipad the participant enters a room set up as a child's bedroom. The play unfolds on the ipad as we watch and as we watch we are seeing it unfold in the very room we are standing in. Its quite an interesting experience to watch something on a screen and then to look aver the screen and see it's not actually there! So powerful is the effect that you automatically move the screen around as the child of the story moves from location to location. At one point the child suddenly runs off the side of the screen and as she does so I found myself rapidly moving to try to keep up with her - I certainly bought into the immersive quality of the show! The theme of the show is growing up but quite frankly its the clever use of the technology that will draw most people to it. And it works. Powerfully so. If you do get the chance to see this it is 20 minutes of your time well invested.
Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley
Assembly, George Square
Evelyn Evelyn (please note the lack of a comma) is (are?) the world's only conjoined twin singer songwriter duo. The show follows their tragic lives whilst we are given samples of the songs that they have written. And its brilliant. Very funny with some powerful and beautiful songs, including a version of Love Will Tear us Apart - from conjoined twins, inspired! We have a recreation of their early life as a shadow puppet show and we see their reluctant (they are shy after all) modern work.
The audience is very much in on the joke and sometimes it gets as little too much for the performers too as they have to try (usually successfully) to stop themselves
corpsing on stage. They're enjoying it and so are we. However due to the shy nature of the twins it appears that this has been their farewell tour, they will exist only in our memories. And as a CD. And as a soon to be released graphic novel as well.
Amanda Palmer's final show moves from the Assembly rooms and will be a concert at the HMV Picture House, as part of The Edge Festival,
http://venues.meanfiddler.com/hmv-picture-house/listings/featured/4244 and Jason Webley can be seen performing his solo show at The Forest in Edinburgh.
Kabaret Alternative Variety at the Speakeasy
Within the Fringe there are plenty of events that are free to attend, one umbrella organisation for this is PBH's (Peter Buckley Hill) Free Fringe. This offers a range of shows to suit all tastes - the EdFringe search engine gives 16 pages of results for a search for PBH. The events are free but donations are requested. Some of the events are
full shows in their own right and others are tasters - performers showcasing what they are offering at the Fringe. And this show falls in the latter category.
Compered ably by Dee Itsy, with the disadvantage of a huge frog in her throat, the show featured something for everyone. Biased towards the burlesque side of things on the night I attended different nights feature different performers - but its probably going to be burlesque orientated most nights.
So what did we have?
We had a couple of artful strippers - one in the form of a Borg Queen from Start Trek (not sure how many Star Trek fans will have seen a nude woman before) and the other lightly spoiled by the obvious presence of goose bumps as she was performing. When you're wearing what she was I suppose things can get a little chilly. It was of course all tasteful and there was actually no nudity.
The Jane Austen Argument are an Australian singer songwriter duo (not conjoined) who are in the first stages of their first world tour. Well thought out songs and powerful voices were the order of the day.
One of the other acts took to the stage carrying a ventriloquist puppet (strangely reminiscent of Waldorf and / or Statler from The Muppets), and my heart sank. Not a huge vent fan. However all was saved, both puppet and performer mimed! They mimed to some duets and in one case a song in the round - so you sing and at the same time you make it appear as if a puppet is singing a different set of words - the theatrical version patting your head and rubbing your stomach. Expertly and hilariously done! Another act demonstrated the fact that when you play a saw it sounds just like a theremin! Who'd have thought it.
The final act of the show was the Creative Martyrs with a jolly little ditty about the end of the world and our deaths. We were encouraged to perform accompaniment with these two performers but to be honest I stopped that fairly rapidly, not because I'm a stick in the mud but because it meant I wasn't concentrating on the words of the song. And the
words were excellent. Just to prove this taster session material works I'm going to get myself along to see this duo perform.
And there's also a midnight version of the show...
Coming soon - the third and final part - imaginatevly called A Fortean at the Fringe part III.