‘How are we going to steal attention away from the sketch show with guys in pants?’
Actress Laura Louise Baker sits before a stone wall in full Edwardian garb. Two teenagers dance in her face, singing “Techno, techno” in an attempt to break her silence while we’re flyering on the Royal Mile.
As the Off-Off-Off-Broadway Company, we’ve had many awkward experiences with strangers. I once tried to explain to an affronted lady that our previous piece The Sexes was not pornography. Alas, we could not recover our tagline “get on your hands and knees”. During our performance at PBH Free Fringe last year, an audience member burped loudly in the middle of a tense scene, then apologised to the room.
So here we are with Peaceful, an Edwardian chiller inspired by a real-life house. How can we stand out, flyering in period costume among several other bodies? How do we “sell” a show about people damaging each other and make it sound like a gay old time at the theatre? It’s a recession! The Olympics have filled Britain with optimism! People want comedy! These are all stabs to our hearts. Also, everybody else is naked.
Our poster is the plan of a convoluted house which results in a rooster foot. Not a nipple in sight. How are we going to steal attention away from the stripper with the very healthy body, or the sketch shows featuring guys in pants? We couldn’t be any more covered up.
Jaacq Hugo, playing the medium Mr De Villiers, has resorted to eating McDonald’s. Our director Graham Easterlow needs to go to Specsavers. Eleanor Field, über-talented designer, has discovered that bowler hats suit her. The Tattoo fireworks keep interrupting our séance scene and upsetting the seagulls. We might die from all the talcum powder we’re inhaling. The drama is endless.
And we’re thrilled to be here. Thank you, Fringe.
• Polis Loizou is the writer – and one of the stars – of Peaceful, at theSpace @ Jury’s Inn, 9:10pm until tonight.
‘Space and time collapse into a single, undefinable point before exploding outward’
The first time I smelled the unseen sounds of the Edinburgh Fringe, I thought, “My lord, this festival certainly does elicit a certain synesthesia!”
Before the Fringe, every one of my senses made sense, except for taste and touch (which invariably get jumbled come bedtime). But the other three – sight, sound, and smell – have always remained fixed. I had seen the sights of Montreal, heard the sounds of Las Vegas, and smelled the smells of those mangy kids in public parks smoking from glass pipes.
So little could I have anticipated the beautiful disruptions my sensorium has been privy to in Edinburgh. “Did I just smell the sound of a castle I couldn’t see?” and sundry other schizoid thoughts are entering my brain with greater frequency as the days go by. (And the days DO go by in Edinburgh – just ask anyone who has been here when the sun sets!)
Had you told me in 1972 I would be making my Fringe debut this year, I would have said: “Wait one more year until I’m born to tell me that.” Or better: “Wait until I’m old enough to comprehend language.”
Of course, it goes without saying that I wouldn’t have actually been able to say anything in the preceding hypothetical, having neither corporeal form nor comprehension of language.
Yet in a certain illogical way, it isn’t quite so illogical. William Wordsworth once observed: “The child is father of the man.” In Edinburgh, the most primal of hierarchies are inverted, senses are jumbled, and space and time collapse into a single, undefinable point before exploding outward, creating manifold universes anew, again and again.
Thus, Fringe becomes theatrical “Om”. And my show another voice strengthening the eternal chant.
• Will Franken’s show Things We Did Before Reality is at Just the Tonic at the Caves, 10:35pm until tomorrow.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: West