Brian Ferguson’s Festival Diary: Cora Bissett rocking Fringe despite ‘gammy leg’

Acrobats at the Book Festival opening. Picture: Ian Jacobs
Acrobats at the Book Festival opening. Picture: Ian Jacobs
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There is little doubt What Girls Are Made Of, Cora Bissett’s Traverse show inspired by the sudden rise and fall of her indie-rock band Darlingheart, has been one of the biggest hits of the Fringe.

Collecting a Scotsman Fringe First Award rounded off a week of four and five-star reviews for the actress and theatre-maker’s debut as a playwright, which recalls her teenage experiences supporting bands such as The Cranberries, Blur and Radiohead. She may be older and wiser 25 years later, but returning to rock it out on stage has taken its toll.

Bissett was somewhat bashful as she collected her award, admitting she had sustained a “gammy leg” slightly while trying to channel the spirit of Patti Smith.

The official explanation to the Traverse, I’m told, was that she came a crocker “galumphing around”.

Loan of a loan

Another blast from the past was served up at Leith Theatre with the return of The Fire Engines for a final hurrah – a year after the hugely influential post-punk outfit shared the stage with Irvine Welsh and Ewen Bremner at the Trainspotting 20th anniversary film screening.

They are one of the less-celebrated Edinburgh bands given pride of place in the National Museum of Scotland’s exhibition Rip It Up charting the history of Scottish pop and rock.

What the museum was definitely not banking on was Davy Henderson asking for the guitar he had agreed to loan for the exhibition back for the night for The Fire Engines’ Edinburgh International Festival gig – sending him off to come up with a plan B.

Local gripes have hit fever pitch

I’ve already lost count of the number of mind-numbing articles bemoaning how big, bad and overbearing Edinburgh’s festival season has become. Annoying Harry Potter fans, the erratic timetables of Lothian Buses and the impact of Richard Branson’s Old Town hotel on the neighbouring Central Library were all cited in one diatribe as evidence the festivals have become a “growth virus piggybacked on a cultural event.”

Its ten-point plan to “save the festival from itself” included a revival of its opening parade, which will come as news to organisers of the carnival which now draws thousands of people on to Princes Street at the end of July. The Book Festival is among those in the dock for ensuring a loss of public space in Charlotte Square Garden, ignoring the fact it is privately owned, while St Andrew Square Garden, which is said to be in ruins due to a “conveyor belt of events” is actually lying empty this month after its own private owners ruled last year that Fringe shows were not wanted.