Brian Ferguson: Cowgate brimming with 24/7 revelry

The Cowgate has been brimming with round-the-clock revelry '“ but it has also been the scene for my two most troubling festival shows to date.

Andy Gray: Bad hair day? Picture: Ian Georgeson
Andy Gray: Bad hair day? Picture: Ian Georgeson

There were more than a few moments of humour in Dust, Milly Thomas’s uncompromising one-woman show tackling depression and suicide at Underbelly’s original home. But the heart­breaking story of Alice, a young woman who is able to observe the response of her family, friends and boyfriend to her taking her own life, left me haunted as I wandered back into the street. A late-night game show inspired by reality TV seemed to be starting off from the opposite end of the Fringe spectrum. But the four-strong cast of Losers took the Cowgate party crowd into some very dark corners before they were released into the night after midnight.

Humiliation, beating, stripping, the eating of cat food and even some ­seemingly brutal treatment with a ­staple gun were meted out. No wonder the final scenes were played out before an audience shocked into ­virtual silence – save for a 
few gasps and cries of “no.”

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• It has been a remarkable 20 years since The League of Gentlemen took home the top comedy prize at the Fringe – fending off competition from Johnny Vegas, Al Murray, Graham Norton and Milton Jones.

Now Mark Gatiss, ­Steve Pemberton, Reece ­Shearsmith and Jeremy Dyson are set to return.

Ahead of a planned ­reunion, which was confirmed in April, The League of Gentlemen are back in Edinburgh on Saturday to help honour their successors.

Awards director Nica Burns says: “The League of Gentle­men have gone on to be incredibly successful writers as well as performers, equally at home in drama as with comedy … we’re delighted to welcome them back.”

• Much scrambling about at the Rose Theatre moments before Grant Stott and Andy Gray took to the stage in their sell-out play Double ­Feature. Gray found himself on his hands and knees frantically searching for a contact lens. Closer inspection of pictures of Gray, posted on ­Facebook by Stott, revealed it had become lodged in his hair.

• Even though the Royal Mile is awash with ­performers, the Fringe is still out of reach for some of those closest to it. So hats off to those behind a special Free Fringe showcase staged at Hyndford House, a sheltered housing block, off the High Street, where comedy, singing, magic and dancing were all on the menu.