More Fringe Madness

The Fringe Festival has thoroughly taken over my life. All I seemed to have done for the last two weeks is go to work and Fringe stuff. My room is full of ticket stubs, programmes for shows I went to see and flyers for shows I didn’t manage to get to. I need to hover, and change my bed and wash some clothes. My eye-brows need plucking. Last week I was bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t seem to get to bed before 11.30pm, this week that’s turned in 1.30am!

Last night I was working at the Speigeltent again, and it was bliss to sleep in until 10 this morning. It was my last shift and I got to see most of the first half of La Clique, which included the girl who spins about 15 hula-hoops at the same time! Amazing! And the wonderful Mario, Queen of the Circus. And because it was my last shift, and things all seemed under control, there was dancing and drinking and hanging out in the Artist’s Tent. It was a good night.

I was down at the Speilgeltent on Wednesday night as well. This time to see Camille O’Sullivan. I went with my mum and dad, and my aunt and uncle like some sort of fifth wheel, a family affair. Last year I saw the Cat’s Miaow with my mum and my aunt, which was a bit of Camille and lots of other people she’d roped in to sing a few songs. This was more of a prepared and rehearsed show with just Camille and the band and it was glorious. She sang for two hours and I think I would have stayed for two more, expect that my ass was falling asleep – Speilgeltent seats are very small and very close together. But it was still an excellent night. We stayed for a drink on George’s Dock and I’m so glad that the weather has been dry for the two weeks and it’s been possible to sit outside and enjoy the evening.

On Thursday I saw Jesus has my Mom in there and has beaten her up real bad and really enjoyed it. It’s a bit strange, a bit like the stuff produced in Brunel, full of ideas and finding interesting ways of putting these ideas on stage. That’s what I like – theatre full of ideas and new ways of looking at the world. Afterwards, I ran up to Blessington Basin for a another fantastic volunteer shift. (Sounds sarcastic but it’s not.) The show – Basin was completely sold-out with 15 people on the waiting list half an hour before it started, most of whom were turned away, and I saw it for free! It was also really, really good. Devised and written especially for the little hidden park at the end of Blessington Street, it was about things that had happened there (the show’s creator used to live in the park-keepers house, inside the park) and things you could imagine happening there. It was really strange and beautiful. I liked the little out-door scenes where it felt like you (and twenty other people) were ease-dropping on the conversations. The pieces inside the house were also like peeking in on something. You were free to wander about the house as you wished – there was no specific order to see things in, and each piece was just a glimpse, just a snippet of life in this house. I really enjoyed it. And enjoyed talked to all the lovely people who worked on it in the pub afterwards and ended up down at the Speiltent, hours after I should have gone to bed.

Today’s been a bit of a lazy day – I’m still in my dressing gown at 3pm – I’m heading out this evening to see Meltdown at the Project and Scar Stories at the Absolut Fringe Factory. I didn’t manage to get a ticket for Madame Butterfly but I’ve been told the show takes place in a window on Crane Lane and that’s it’s worth a look so I’ll wander down and take a look at that too! But sure yet if I’m going to try and cram in a final few shows on Sunday or if I will take it easy before the Fringe Awards and closing night party tomorrow night.

Fringe so far.

I am having a very enjoyable Fringe Festival. I’m enjoying my volunteer shifts and seeing lots of shows. I was getting a bit worn-out at the end of last week. By Friday evening I had completely run out of steam – poof, no more steam let, but I took it sort of easy over the weekend and am ready for another busy week.

My first shift was on the first day of the Fringe, Saturday 5th September in the Absolut Fringe Factory in Smock Alley. The Factory is actually quite impressive. It a great tall space and has lots of nice Absolut Art winding up the wall.

Here’s what I’ve seen so far;

Anatomy of a Seagull
I saw this while I was volunteering and I was glad I hadn’t paid for my ticket. I didn’t really like it. I’d seen the National Youth Theatre version of The Seagull at the Peacock the previous week so I was maybe a little bit too familiar with the script. I also found the production too naturalistic for my taste. Possibly Loose Canon’s style is just not my kind of thing but this my problem not theirs. They won Best Production at last year’s Irish Times Theatre Awards for Phaedra’s Love, which I hated. I will give them another try. I’m going to see Jesus has my Mom in there and has beaten her up real bad on Thursday.

This is Not a Drill
I also saw this as part of a volunteer shift and I loved it. It wasn’t one that I was planning to see, I hadn’t even really noticed it in the programme so I’m delighted that I got to see it by change. It was very much my kind of theatre. Beautifully written, dark and funny, it was non-naturalistic and a bit weird. I loved the very clever use of technology (yes I am a big nerd but that kind of thing. I grabbed the director afterwards to find an explanation for some of that wonderful tech.) and repetition that really worked. It reminded me of Forced Entertainment (mainly Speak Bitterness) and Katie Mitchell’s production of The Waves that I saw at the Dublin Theatre Festival last year. I left the performance feeling joyful with a big smile on my face, which is an odd way to leave a show about the end of the world! I saw it again the next night because I had the same shift again, but I was happy to watch it again.

The Blanch
Very funny and sometimes a little bit disturbing. Three actors played I-don’t-know-how-many characters and live music and sound effects were provided by onstage performers, it was fantastic. The characters were a little bit terrifying, especially since the house lights were up for the entire and they did look straight at you. It was wonderfully weird and very contemporary.

Who is Fergal Fitzpatrick
I went to see this show because a couple of people had recommended it to me. And I did like it but I think my expectations were maybe two high. It was interesting and a clever way of looking at theatre, what we expect from theatre and ways to distort these expectations. I think it was a high-concept show that was well executed. It didn’t really have me leaving the theatre with a big smile on my face but it did make me think.

Le Clique
I can’t really offer a full review of this one because I only saw the second half of the show while I was volunteering. What I saw was still fantastic – the physical abilities of the performers is breathtaking, but they are also entertaining! One of my jobs on the night was to look out for people taking photos because this is strictly prohibited. I didn’t see anyone with a camera in their hands. All I could see were rapt faces gazing up at the magnificent spectacles taking place on stage. However, it’s hard to pay that much attention to the audience when there’s a girl being spun around by her partner onstage, he’s on roller-skates and she’s just has her foot hooked around his neck! It sounds impossible but it happened. I was ready to duck, just in case she came flying at me!

Power Point
I saw this on Sunday evening. I think it was probably their 8 consecutive night performing. I got the feeling that the actors were a little off, that timing wasn’t quite right. It felt sloppy to me. It was a strange show anyway – the audience are at a business seminar and the people giving the seminar are a little odd, and having a few problems of their own. I loved the set-up, it’s a great idea but for me, it just didn’t quite work. Maybe I just didn’t get it. There were just too many things happening that didn’t fit together and I left feeling a bit disappointed.

The Legend of Zorroco
This was a one-woman show and I was the preview performance. It was a Spanish nanny who really wants to be the Rose of Tralee. It was very funny and I think it will get better as the week goes on. It had loads of little jokes, mostly at the expense of the Irish, a great story and a sympathetic main character. I really enjoyed it.

Iris Brunette
Another one-woman show but very very different. Where Zorroco was one woman behind a microphone, Iris Brunette had many lighting and sound cues and used the audience to stand in for other characters in the story. It was a slightly troubling tale about love in a weird, post-apocalyptic world. I liked it a lot.