Brian Ferguson’s Diary: Technical problems on a tight schedule

Mercury Prize winner 'Benjamin Clementine
Mercury Prize winner 'Benjamin Clementine
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There were more than a few tense moments at the Festival Theatre before and during Benjamin Clementine’s eagerly-awaited EIF show.

Technical problems were blamed for a 45-minute delay in the start of the gig – a potential headache for audience members on a tight schedule for another show.

The Mercury Prize winner then spent a fair bit of his concert trying to conduct conversations with members of the audience, even if they were in the grand circle, most of which were lost in translation.

Clementine was cut a bit of slack by an increasingly restless audience with an impromptu song about 
Aberfeldy after finally working out where one of his fans was from.

Thankfully the vast majority of his audience seemed to overlook his on-stage eccentricities in favour of his mesmerising voice and the blistering band he had assembled – when they eventually got the chance to let rip.

See our review on page 5

l It is a landmark year at the Fringe for theatre director Jeremy James Taylor.

But the founder of the National Youth Music Theatre only discovered he was about to take the helm of his 50th production when he was asked to write a piece recounting his decades of involvement in the Fringe for his local paper.

Taylor – who attended the Fringe for the first time with Durham University Theatre in 1969 – brought the first ever school production 
to the Fringe in 1976. The 
Belmont School’s company would eventually become the NYMT and attract young performers from across the UK.

The talent it would go on to nurture includes Jude Law, Jonny Lee Miller, Toby Jones, Tom Hollander, Stephen Graham, Sue Perkins, Matt Lucas, Jamie Bell, Connie Fisher and Sheridan Smith.

There can’t be many on the Fringe who can match that CV, but Taylor, who stepped down from the company in 2006, is still going strong, directing the magical musical The Dreaming at Greenside’s Nicholson Square venue.

l Much food for thought at a “future of the Fringe” event, as the audience and panel debated hot topics including the rising cost of accommodation in Edinburgh and the need for better transport infrastructure.

The idea of encouraging more performers and audiences to stay in Glasgow was floated, with the last train out of Edinburgh already being pitched as “a Fringe experience in itself”.