Review: Edinburgh Fringe 2016
Becky Malone recaps her time at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe
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As a first time Fringe festival-goer, my expectations for the weekend were high but unfounded, so I boarded my 9.30am bus (which actually turned out to be 9.50am because it’s always too much to ask that public transport runs on time) at Victoria Coach Station on the 19th of August and embarked on an 11-hour ride to the capital of Scotland for what could have been a really terrible time.
Luckily for me though, it honestly turned out to be an amazing experience filled with laughs, tears, a lot of rain and even more tears.
It was an experience that I want to relive next year, and the year after, and maybe even the year after that. I saw such a fantastic variety of arts and performance across the weekend it’s difficult to pin-point any highlights but, having said this, there were a couple of pieces that really stuck with me, for good reason, that I’d recommend seeing if you want a good cry. So, here we go, why did I cry so much at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016?
Firstly, something that made me cry with laughter. Comedy quintet, THE NOISE NEXT DOOR, returned to the Fringe for their sixth year in a row, bringing with them quick wit, a lot of energy and some serious talent to create hour after hour of unpredictable and fresh improvised comedy. These boys also brought with them a strong work ethic as they were doing two shows on each performing day, the most popular of these, and therefore the one which had sadly sold-out across the weekend, being the more explicit, adult evening COMEDY LOCK-IN at Venue 33, Pleasance Courtyard. But, on a positive note, I managed to steal a seat for their family-friendly REALLY, REALLY GOOD AFTERNOON SHOW at the Gilded Balloon Teviot which wasn’t without its own hilarious improprieties and awkward moments and was in fact really, really good.
The general idea behind the performance was a journey to space, navigated by comedic improvisation based on shout-out suggestions from the audience, therefore there can be no spoilers here as every show is completely different from the last. On this particular space voyage there were planets made of jelly, sassy zombie women, identical twin, talking goats and a three-headed alien obsessed with Pythagoras Theorem… no, me neither. The timing was so impeccable, the on-stage chemistry was so visibly strong and the use of costume, props and set was so sweet and simple that even the least imaginative crowd suggestions became memorable parts of one of the funniest live performances I’ve ever seen.
Secondly, something that made me cry with sadness. There are enough five-star reviews of TEAM VIKING online proving that it is one of the most emotive, heart-felt and cathartic viewing experiences at Fringe this year, that I don’t need to try very hard to convince you of this. If I could give it five stars, I’d give it six in an attempt to convey how incredibly moving and warming this solo show from James Rowland is.
It is based on a true story about, get your tissues at the ready, the death of one of Rowland’s close, childhood friends from an aggressive form of cancer which he commiserates with a funeral based around both their favourite movie, ‘Viking’… no, me neither. It is obvious that Rowland possesses impeccable acting skills, that he knows how to engage and manipulate an audience and that he commands the stage effortlessly. What isn’t obvious in his performance is that it is in fact a performance that he has performed almost every day for the last couple of weeks. I didn’t feel like an audience-member at all, instead I felt like a close friend in whom Rowland was confiding and telling this story to for the first time because the show is built on such raw and genuine emotion that it could never sound rehearsed.
There can be spoilers here so I won’t say any more except that it is a simply staged, emotional rollercoaster that feels quintessentially British and extremely relatable to anyone who has dealt with life and loss.