Blog Article / FringeReview.com / Writing: Journalism

Healing fantasies

Better now… getting to Edinburgh certainly helped. Yes, I’ve arrived! The drama capital of the world, for the next weeks at least, is at my feet (almost literally, I’m on the top floor), and the excitement is mounting. A lovely meander around town today revealed its many, many venues, all in a state of nearly-there, as well as the impressive topography of the area. It’s all ups and downs, isn’t it?

Just to explain: to describe Edinburgh as ‘hilly’ goes beyond an understatement: Edinburgh is RIVEN. Walking through it, it looks like a couple of dragons rent it asunder while playing ‘Chase-the-Sheep’, and left deep scars and sheer cliffs all over the place. It feels a little like walking through a fantasy town, a steam-punk medieval Victoriana jobbie, and the beautiful castle and observatory only add to this, looking like they’re built directly out of the rocky outcroppings on which they perch.

This could just be the delirium brought on by too many Lemsips talking, but I feel a strange affinity with Edinburgh. I visited here when I was a mere stripling, and parts of the city seem eeriely familiar, like a phrase in a book you once read that crops up in a newspaper article about something entirely different. I think there’s also a level at which Edinburgh will always be fantastical to me: in my mind, it is the place were dreams are made real, where success and failure are so close they can strike the same person nigh-on simultaneously. I’ve spent most of my theatrical career dreaming of Edinburgh, aiming to be putting on a show here, and here I am.

I know there are some of you out there in a similar situation now, and I can only wish you the best of luck. I’m just organising my reviewing schedule, and there are so many bright and hopeful shows I just can’t see. This preview is for one of those shows that I will never see, but hear amazing things about:

East
Aug 8th, 10th-16th, 18th-23rd, 20.30pm, £7/£8, Augustine’s

I’m not a huge Steven Berkoff fan (yeah, he can act, but can he write?), but this play is the one exception. It’s actually called ‘Elegy for the East End and its Energetic Waste’, which I would say is the better title, and even attempting this monster deserves credit. This play is monumental and baffling, a dark and seedy collection of characters taking on the world, and describing it as ‘obscene and beautiful’ in the Guide just endears this group even more to me; that’s exactly what I see in it.

The concept seems simple: a family, with some trying to escape the repetitive rhythm of their humdrum existence. However, this piece brings so much more to the table, with characters swapping and switching, and the ensemble mentality allowing the actors to work from all corners, pushing themselves and the story forward to its bizarre conclusion. It’s a play like no other, a real product of its time, and well worth seeing.

This young company deserves a lot of credit for attempting this piece, made famous by the Edinburgh Festival nearly 10 years ago, and I wish them the best of luck. If they can push hard enough, this should earn them rave reviews. For a small company, this is a huge risk, and I wish them the best of success. Take a punt on this one folks, it could be the best show this Fringe! Book tickets here.

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