Pick n Mix Edinburgh Fringe offers festival lovers 60 second clips of shows you could have seen

Viewers can pick a clip to watch or tune into a mixed stream of continuous Fringe entertainment, with the ability to interact and comment on the videos.
AJ Bell Fringe Pick n Mix is a streaming platform where artists and audiences can share short video clips to recreate the varied and eclectic spirit of the Fringe.AJ Bell Fringe Pick n Mix is a streaming platform where artists and audiences can share short video clips to recreate the varied and eclectic spirit of the Fringe.
AJ Bell Fringe Pick n Mix is a streaming platform where artists and audiences can share short video clips to recreate the varied and eclectic spirit of the Fringe.

Open access is a wonderful thing. Democratic, offering hope and opportunity. Over the years it has made the Edinburgh Fringe what it is, and that is something extraordinary, exciting, gloriously unpredictable.

As this year's access IRL was closed by Covid, the internet exploded with the displaced and the desperate of the erstwhile Edinburgh Fringe.

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A slightly late addition to the online offerings comes from the Fringe Society itself.

Pausing only to secure 1.2 million in grants and interest free loans, plus a sponsor in AJ Bell, the organisation who give you your 40 brochure words for 393 quid are offering up an online “Pick'n'Mix” of 60 second clips of shows that you could have seen had the Fringe gone ahead. The access to post videos is open to all registered Fringe would-have-been performers.

This is not a bad idea at all. But, as part of the now financially supported Fringe.com platform, it should be much better. A well thought out minute, with an informative wraparound, should be a powerful advert for next year as well as all the time in between. That is not really what we get here.

The Pick'n'Mix page is about as visually basic as a web page gets. We are not here for the state of the art aesthetic or clever lay-out, but surely we could have had the show's 40 words relocated on screen. That would have been helpful. However, we choose our genre and then we simply press the red rectangle that says ‘SPIN AGAIN’ to enter a world which, in many ways, succeeds as a digital microcosm of the Fringe. However 'spinning' every 60 seconds, reveals a discombobulating kaleidoscope of performances in 'minute-ture'. It is genuinely intense.

To be brutally honest, my first 20 minutes of 'spinning' made me feel quite a lot better about the cancellation of the entire Fringe. My second 20 minutes did not exactly leave me crying hot, salt tears for what might have been. Not if this is it.

Sixty seconds is tough. It does not suit everyone. But it does give the Pick'n'Mix feature a nice hook, and it leaves it up to the performers to work out how best to use the time.

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I can only assume that no guidance or back-up is given to the performers by Fringe.com. Shame. Some comics offer a dodgy video of last year's performance, others flaunt their expertise with a 'promo' – all graphics and crash zooms and no idea what the show, much less the performer, is actually like. Some choose to fill their minute with televisual location sketches which it is hard to imagine being replicated in a 20-seater with no lights behind a pub in Leith. And many simply have no idea how to focus a minute. There are, however, some who do it well and leave me wanting more and starting to making notes for August 2021, which is surely what this is for. I mean the Fringe Society have money to make...

So next August (pandemics and Acts of God permitting) I shall be seeing Stuart Thomas (friendly comic whose minute made me laugh a lot), Martin Graham (ditto), Dr Fran Chadha-Day who will, hopefully, have sorted out her nervous delivery to do her fascinating material justice, Westdal and Hayward (who might turn out to be Hinge and Brackett wannabes, but their song “I've Taken Me Bra Off” promises otherwise) and The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppets, whose delightful song about the Bechdel Test is the absolute highlight of the whole picking and mixing experience.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Pick n Mix is online at https://picknmix.edfringe.com

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