As someone who loves fringe theatre, it’s not a surprise I love getting to the Edinburgh fringe. After getting a whole week there last year, and planning a big Americas trip in late August. I wasn’t planning on going this year.
Nonetheless I managed to sneak in a visit to the fringe in 2019, mainly as I don’t have a day job at the moment. So why not?
Which fringe shows
So this year was a first – my mum and I went on a day trip together. Truth be told she’s not a bad companion. On the positive side, she enjoys sitting through hours of feminist plays. And she understands Scots. She also made no comments about my alcohol consumption this time and only did a light bit of pearl-clutching. All in, not bad.
However, truth be told I did a lot of stage managing beforehand. From the list of shows I wanted to see, lots had to be watered down. Any mention of nudity and a show was out. As were adult themes. Not to mention vetos of any shows that mentioned mother-daughter relationships. But we did manage to agree on three shows.
Saying Hi to Monarch and Bobby
Now when I visit Edinburgh, I love to pop into the Gallery to see my favourite painting of Monarch. I love how stunning he is – so majestic and he knows it.
It reminds me of the fun time I had hiking the West Highland Way a few years ago. It’s a fabulous long-distance trail and a fun walk over similar landscape to the painting. On my trek, I did see a few deer in the distance, but sadly no majestic stags. Next time?
And this visit to Edinburgh we also got to pop in to see Bobby as well. Although I do find the story of his devotion to his deceased owner quite sad, it’s a lovely tribute.
Today the dog’s grave attracts way more visitors than any of the human graves. Look at all those sticks people have collected for him. Brings me hope that there is lots of good around in the world.
Concluding the flying visits to interesting places in Edinburgh, we then went back onto the fringe.
The first show I selected was about a mass murderer who attacked women in Glasgow and has never been caught. Some nice light material to start the day right? After being lubricated with my wine, we got into the queue early and snagged front row seats.
An interesting show then unveiled before us – it was very well put together and very much the type of fringe theatre I love. I’m not personally a great serial killer fan, yet something about this play attracted me. It touched upon the female love of true crime despite its grizzly nature. Going deeper and more feminist, we explored the misogynism shared by the serial killer and the investigating detectives.
Working-class women who liked to dance were the serial killers’ prey yet the media and public seemed to shame them for daring to go out and dance. Which today sounds absolutely shocking. Moreover, did the fact that the women weren’t perfect demure victims result in their killer never being caught? Sadly, it appears so from the evidence we have. Sobering thoughts.
Godley on the Fringe
— Janey Godley (@JaneyGodley) June 23, 2018
After the dark start, my next risque bet was a comedian who is famous for her Trump welcoming party as seen above. Easy to say she’s not a Trump fan. In addition to her Trump stance, she also has a lot of opinions on UK politicians. And she does some fantastic voiceovers over them. Which I personally think are hilarious. Although if you don’t understand Scots, I accept they are less funny.
“Am out of here, bolt the lot of you” #janeygodleyvoiceover
Theresa’s final speech
— Janey Godley (@JaneyGodley) July 24, 2019
Personally, I loved the show. It was great watching her do live voiceovers. I’m always amazed at comedians who can perform live and improvise with whatever comes up. Her standup was also great – delivered with a dose of left-wing realism from a menopausal woman who isn’t afraid to mention it. A strong feminist, she isn’t afraid to swear, and let’s just say my mum got a little bit pearl clutchy but braved it well.
Our final show was based on a classic literary tale by Thomas Hardy: Tess D’Urberville. With a bit of folk music added in for good measure. It’s such a heartwarming tale of Tess, who you can’t help but love and feel very sorry for. Born into a poor family and sent out to work, she is abused and manipulated by man after man.
Not to rush through, but the best part of this show was the ending. Which has been reimagined in a much more positive way. Rather than the assumed execution of Tess for murdering her abuser, in this version her mum and sister save her.
A cool production which brought up the old fashioned notions of women’s shame and the acceptance of rape it was harrowing yet heartwarming when the ending was revealed.
When I go the fringe I always make sure I go to and support female acts. I check my bookings and make sure I have the correct balance and that my money is mainly going to female artists. Now this year I have excelled. All our shows were acted by all-female casts.
Moreover, all had strong feminist credentials. The first critiqued society and the police for classism and misogyny, the second gave a strong feminist approach to life and the menopause and the final rewrote Tess D’Urberville with a feminist ending.
Over to you
- What are your thoughts?
- Been to the fringe? Going/gone this year?
- How do you pick shows to see?