As our name quite openly suggests, The London Word loves London. But sometimes, whether it be the ongoing struggles with Tfl, the open invitation to thousands of internationals for these blessed Games or that strange film of grime that sticks to your skin whenever you get the tube, even the most flag flying of London dwellers needs a break every now and again. Reader, I must confess I count myself amongst this number and come August, I will flee this city for as long as my wee wallet allows and head north – to Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
But for anyone who has been to the Fringe, you will know one of the most daunting things is not the 4.5 hour train journey from London but the brochure itself. Coming in at almost 400 pages, there really is little point to this mammoth tome beyond soaking up spilled beer or using it as a concealable weapon to bat away incessant flyerers. My top tip for planning your Fringe; if you want to see the big guns or to tick off names from the veritable bingo card of comedians from topical TV panel shows – book ahead, but if you want to experience the Fringe as it is intended, violating your humours, innocence and wallet in equal measure, then throw yourself into the throngs and just go with the flow.
But if throng throwing gives you palpitations to rival the beer fear after a night abusing Edinburgh’s more relaxed licensing laws, here are a few London Word favourites and Edinburgh veterans I’ll be checking out – just to get you started.
The cavernous Underbelly nestled at the start of the wonderful pit of inequity that is the Cowgate is rife with the ridiculous and the rude, keeping us entertained until the small hours. Salacious divas, East End Cabaret, deliver their trademark multi-instrumental and multi-orgasmic performance of musical Eastern Bloc comedy by way of East London in Notoriously Kinky. In what promises to be the best late night party to finish (or start) your night, debauched comedy duo Guilt & Shame (pictured) return to the Fringe with brand new show Up All Night, inviting you to witness the depravities of an eternal virgin and tragic slut and their vain attempts to clean up their act.
Located at the centre of the Fringe action, the Pleasance Dome houses a deadpan dragon and his pet Chihuahua entertaining audiences with baffling magical stunts in Piff The Magic Dragon in…Jurassic Bark. For the aforementioned fans of TV panel shows, or just late night comedy, you cannot go wrong with the infamous After Hours Comedy for some lucky dip stand-ups, good or bad, you’re guaranteed to get a great show, even if it’s just the drunken hecklers providing the laughs. As the Dome’s more al fresco counterpart, Pleasance Courtyard is the go-to place for beer and comedy all day long.
New Fringe favourite The Boy With Tape on His Face champions the joys of audience participation with his unique brand of silent comedy while cheeky chaps WitTank and Sheeps present the best in young and inventive sketch comedy.
Elsewhere, Bedlam Fringe presents 13 shows covering everything from ‘Gaelic folk tales to dangerously awesome blues bands’ at Bedlam Theatre, an amazing fringe venue at the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town and a must-visit for anyone looking for some fresh faced theatre.
Add this to an unfathomably packed three weeks of dance, theatre, music, art and late night licensing and even the most committed of London-lovers will find themselves seduced and satiated with the charms of the other capital. You probably won’t be able to get tickets for anything in London anyway…
Edinburgh Festival Fringe takes place August 3 to 27, 2012.
See the full programme on the website: www.edfringe.com
Photo: Guilt & Shame (Graham Turner).