Claire Smith: Aussies revel at ‘Edinburgh Festival’ Down Under

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SOMETIMES social networks like Facebook make you feel much closer to people. Other times it can make you feel further away.

This week my Facebook feed has been full of pictures from Adelaide – where Mad March is already under way.

Like Edinburgh, Adelaide has a glut of festivals, with international, fringe, visual arts and music events all taking over this small south Australian town at the same time.

Yesterday I saw a lovely picture of Fringe director Kath Mainland with Ms Julia Holt, a natural-born Australian who previously lived in Edinburgh and was the general manager of the Assembly Rooms.

They were standing under the eucalyptus trees in the Garden of Unearthly Delights – a lovely park in the centre of town which during Mad March is full of brightly-coloured circus tents full of cabaret, comedy, music and theatre.

My favourite sexual deviants EastEnd Cabaret are there, while Alex Petty, Free Festival supremo who first gave them a venue in Edinburgh, runs shows up the road in the Austral bar. I know Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam of Underbelly also visited, seeking out talent as they take over the world.

I’d heard that Adelaide was Edinburgh in the sunshine but it was hard to believe until I was actually there last March. Who knew you could get on a plane, fly halfway around the world, walk to a park and be surrounded by people you know?

The PR person showing me around could not believe it when I walked into the gardens for the first time and started saying ‘Hi’ to performers, techies, producers and road managers. “You’ve never been here before. Who on earth ARE you?” she asked.

I always used to think the Fringe was like a magic island that lands on Edinburgh once a year and takes us all into a different dimension. It was great to discover it exists in other parts of the world as well. I’m sorry that I can’t be there this year, but at least I can look at the photos.

We are all connected in so many ways.