Norma Austin Hart: Leave Fringe to unknowns

Accuse me of being po-faced if you will, but the prominence, or even dominance, of big name comedy during our fringe festival over more cutting edge performances, comedic or not, is beginning to disturb me.

It seems that, in the city centre at least, I can’t get away from enormous mug shots of well known TV comedians. It’s a case of big money shouts loudest and it is in danger of drowning out some of the smaller players with tighter purse strings and dare I say more memorable performances.

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I’m not against successful comedians, but my beef is that these people can put on commercially successful shows at any time of the year. I would make this appeal to festival Fringe goers. Be adventurous, look for the hidden gems and take a risk... like many of the performers who have had to do just that to be here. This year I’ve seen some risky, very funny but also quite unsettling shows. With dark themes and subtle undercurrents they linger longer in the memory but you really need to seek them out.

Venues and how they are managed add to the overall atmosphere. I’ve always loved the Spiegeltent and its ability to pop up in unexpected places. So hats off to the Assembly Rooms organisers who have taken our stunning refurbished venue, added that tented performance space and bar /café area and used it to reinvent George Street. The taste of pedestrianisation to come perhaps?

Cllr Norma Austin Hart is the Deputy Convener for Culture and Leisure and has been to see: Watt, Samuel Beckett’s monologue performed by Barry McGovern at the Lyceum; Oh the Humanity, Northern Stage at St Stephens Church; Claudia O Doherty, The Telescope at the Underbelly