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Phew. As I said on Facebook, every year the Fringe feels part like this marathon we've all inexplicably entered, and part like the best thing ever. This year, the latter feeling triumphed I think, though I did get rather fed up with steamy overheated venues contrasting with the pouring rain outside, as I coughed and spluttered post-cold.

My new diet of Dance Not Comedy continued to be fruitful. Saturday night was Matthew Bourne's Picture of Dorian Gray ballet , the only thing I'd booked on the Festival proper. It's coming your way darn sarf next, I think, so worth mentioning at length .. I don't quite know what I think about it, to be honest. I wish I coukd just say i was dazzled, without qualification, but can't. The heart of the ballet is Dorian Gray's endless ronde of sex and decadence , with men and women alike, having guaranteed his own unaging immortal youth. Instead of having a painting in his attic which ages while he remains young, he is the photo-model face of a male perfume campiagn, "Immortal - Pour Homme"and his apparent eternal youth has been granted by a mysterious fashion photographer. It's all very clever, allowing lots of comment to be made on celebrity misbehaviour and press interest therein, the shallowness of pleasure, the arty milieux of decadence, the use and misuse of each other, etc etc.

But really the only place the ballet really touches the *emotions*, is in the interaction between the Gray character and the (male)photographer, who becomes his lover, his ally, his rejected swain, his combatant and finally his victim. The first extended pas de deux between these two is wildly hot, and we all agreed, just about the most homoerotic thing we'd ever seen on stage. (I'm slightly surprised they allowed children in to see it! though I think there was a warning of adult material.) After this, everything in the ballet seems a slight anti-climax (no pun intended..) and the main female character, who is both Dorian's patroness in the world of fashion, and his lover, seems slight and cliched by comparison with the intensity of the liaison with the photographer. I also think it's just plain too *long* for what is really a pretty straightforward story. OTOH the staging is brilliant, the dancing flawless, and the two main roles - especially the photographer - magnificent. I'd say go, but reserve judgment on saying this is a work that will become a long-term standard like Bourne's Swan Lake and Scissorhands.

Finally on the dance front, I went to see Judgment of Paris with [ profile] anef, perfromed by a NY burlesque companie called Compagnie de Paris. This had been picked to cater for Anne's Classical fixations, and turned out to be in some ways the most complete of all my dance experiences. You could do this one for A-level too - somehow the show segued from the story of how Paris was smitten with Helen of Troy resuklting in a war that would destroy himself, his family and his city; to the story of how both can can girls at the Moulin Rouge, and peroxide haired showgirls in Depression era Thirties USA dance halls were all essentially women being forced to smile and prostitute themselves to make a living. No I know it sounds like a tenuous link but it worked. Aphrodite as the Goddess of Love is also the pimp of all women; encouraging them to smile and do the right thing. Good Stuff - It will stay with me.

And more, much more. I saw Otis Lee Crenshaw again , with Best Pal, as my very last show, and it was wonderful as ever; a truly feelgood way to end the fortnight. I also had two rather expectable disappointments, but wtf it's the Fringe, you have to try things - A L Kennedy as a stand up - no, dear, stick to your day job!; and Arnold Brown, whom I went to as a kind of nostalgia trip, having not seen him for about ten years plus: oh my, how slow, how creaky! At least I know where old people go during the Fringe now..

Oh yes, and The Island of Aars! yes, pronounced the way you might expect :-) This was FAB - one should tip the hat here to [ profile] julia_winolj whose discovery it was.. Lovely piss take of am dram musicals, the Scots, calvinism, Scots Weather ("what's that colour? BLUE!"), aging rock stars, Dutch lesbians and The Madness of Health and Safety. ([ profile] grytpype_thynne this is what you want to book in for Novacon!!)

Finally today [ profile] anef and I did the sedate ladies d'un certain age thing of delicious seafood lunch at the Mussell Inn (mm, those scallops!) followed by a cultured turn round the Impressionists in Scotland exhibition at the National Gallery (actually , mostly Impressionists in France, but bought by Scottish people - But I suppose that counts :-) I enjoyed tracing the route from Monet to Cezanne to Picasso paralleled with Glasgow Boys and Girls to Scottish Colourists. I have now actually sorted out Sisley from Peploe and discovered George Henry. (Annoyingly there's no copy online of the one of his I most liked, a Japanese sty;e vision of the River Clyde by moonlight but here's another Japanesey one. )One day I will actually know some art history :-)

EDIT: looking back, that's 22 shows. Phew. And I still sorta fancy seeing La Clique! Anyone wanna go? EDIT FURTHER: Pah, sold out!!
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.. here finally is a good reason to join Facebook. :-D

I'm way too cumulatively hungover to post real updates but as final recommendation for anyone out and about for the Bank Holiday (well, in England :-P

One From the Heart was just as I'd hoped - magical, entrancing, fabulous. Go go go.  OFTH was originally a film - a kind of crazy mixed up film noir broken hearted romance, sung by Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle as  lovers who've gone stale, who part, have adventures and reunite. Bizarrely it was directed by Coppola, at the heart of his post Acopalypse Now success. the music is all pure Tom Waits.  I saw the first night in London in 1983 by pure chance, with my then boyfriend Andrew (yeh :)  and went out the next day and bought the record (yes, vinyl; wow, I feel like 103.) Now the soundtrack is being poerformed by a jazz orchestra and two former accapella singers. It's FANTASTIC. I was actually transported.  If only I had room, i'd go back again...

State of matter is this year's popular kewl dance hit in the big upside down purple cow in Bristo Square. It's 6 or 7 young, very sexy, male dancers mixing break dance, tumbling , contemporary dance and even a little ballet to a fucking amazing soundtrack that veers from techno remix to 20s mash up pastiche (Jurassic 5, amazing) to (really, it works) Coldplay... the sheer energy and physicality is incredible - think Olympic gymnastics meets Justin Timberlake. It leaves you feeling like you want to do back somersaults yourself, dance on to PotterRow, and it had the first standing ovation I've seen at the Fringe.

Except that people stoood at the end of Bale de Rua as well, which is strangely the same idea really, only with fancier sets, better costumes, more finesse, clearly more rehearsal and some semblance of a storyline (Brazilian blacks emerging from slavery to sound a nation, more or less) plus lots of dry ice.  (Oh and it costs a lot more.) Everyone but me absolutely loved it: I think I was spoiled by the rawer, realer energy of State of Matter the day before. It's a matter of taste I guess. (Also I preferred the music at SOM! and fancied the guys there more!!)

So, yeh, dance is the new comedy, breakdance is the new ballet.. and  between both these performances, there was exactly one woman dancer - because who needs women when men are willing  and able to act the emotional part olf the female partner - and then still have the strength to do the break dancing too? So, ballerinas are yesterday's fish wrapping...?

Andrew Maxwell was , as reported, not quite as good as last year I thought,, but still great and at an 11.30pm specal show, perfect for the drunken miasma I (and most the audience apparently) had by then fallen into.,. he is just enormously likeable, and you can hardly beat a story about how he somehow agreed to do  a comedy gig for the IRA in deep Loyalist territory.. :( Still not as good as the one about the gays in the desert in Dubai though!

Er, what else. Head, work... Oh yeah! Charlie Victor Romeo with [personal profile] guyinahat, [personal profile] accordingly and [profile] ghostsmut. It's a play about air crashes, reconstructed with original dialogue recovered from the black boxes on each plane. Fuck, i wish I hadn't seen this. it's excellent but .. I fly. All the time. And particularly! Into Chicago on United!!! I take scant comfort in the fact that all the air crashes mentioned happened over ten years ago, er, they've got better at this shit since then, right???

So, moral. less comedy, more dance, more music, more JAZZ!!! And tonight, Matthew Bourne's Picture of Dorian Gray :)
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Justin John Whitehead - crappy local slacker expat American comic, performing in a sauna under the Cowgate. Thinks he's a cross between Russell Brand and Andrew Maxwell. Isn't.:(

Rich Hall - sitting in a chair, saying "My editor got shingles" he is funnier than the above. Fuck this going looking for unknown comics, stick with what you know. Rich Hall js funny ascerbic brave and endlessly irascible. Reading stuff from his books and writings as he is here, though, you also realise how erudite and what a good writer and actor he is too.

Afterwards we talked to him as he gulped a fag whole outside the Assembly Rooms. He'd been doing the whole "make a song up around member of the audience's profession " thing the night before, as his alter ego, redneck white trash Otis Lee Crenshaw.

"But the guy  I picked was an economics lecturer" he says " and I asked him what his speciality was, so he said Chicago School, and i said, "Adam Smith not good enough for you then?" and we dscussed welfare versus market economic models for a but.,.. I knew  it was hopelessly out of character for Otis Lee but I just had to go with it."

I love this man :)

Tim FitzHigham -

Bohemiancoast et famille, go see this show NOW.!!!!! ( Yes, catch a flight - there must be a seat or two left.)

I did not ever really expect to go see a show about morris dancing, and enjoy it..

I did.

it's a  high concept kinda thing.
Shakespeare's favourite comedy actor, Will Kemp, once morris danced from London to Norwich. Tim  FitzNob decided to do the same, albeit for charity (but prob also to make it into a TV series, like everyone else at the Fringe..)
Show is simultaneously quite professional and yet delightfully English-amateur. Tim himself displayed a fair command of Morris and is a bit of alright, even with a beard and in orange pantaloons. (Pull the other one, he told a dog as he danced through the East End - it's got bells on it.) Although nothing world shaking,  a very pleasant way to spend an hour. (I could do without the slide of when all the skin fell off his foot though!)
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Wheeeeee, am I hungover. Wine, sake, tequila and beer will do that to a girl..:(

Yesterday I took pal Ian-from-IT-law round the Fringe and it all workd out pretty well.

Ben Moor (3pm PLeasance) is one of my big Fringe faves of the last several years. He's a tall, serious, slightly lugubrious storyteller of a sort, though I often feel he's really writing slipstream-sf novellas that he happens to perform, not write down (I would very much like a copy of his script, because it is a script and an actually acted performance - this is not stand up though much of it is very funny). and he often reminds me of Geoff Ryman without the Canadian accent. He has an affection for Dickian transpositions of reality, for po mo ish texts that contain sub-texts, with unreliable narrators and unreliable endings galore.  Despite how pretentious this all sounds,  he is remarkably not so, and there are massively funny word plays and acute observations in almost every line - Ogling not Googling, conflict resolution diamonds mined from countries where everyone lives hapily together, moebius strip clubs where the dancers are long and bendy and the act goes on forever, and so forth. I feel a bit like he recites the inside of my own head when I'm particularly in flow state. I loved it to bits, as you can tell, but Ian was less impressed so i guess it's a very personal choice. I'd go again :)

Bombay to Beijing by Bicycle  (GIlded Balloon?) was a bit of  shock after all that. Fat sweaty bald Ozzie takes us through an extremely physical (drenched with sweat by end!) prformance of highlights of cycling from Mumbai to Beijing by bike (like duh). Actually almost no China and mostly about getting malaria because of having a rubbish girlfriend. Certainly put me off Pakistan.. (Ian is going on an Indian trek at December but remained undaunted!) Oddly although a bit amateurish and lacking real material, we both quite enjoyed this - he's a trier if nothing else!

Justin Moorhouse's Decreasing Social Circle  (Pleasance)  was another unlikely success. I'd picked it cos it was meant to be about a guy trying to cut down his Facebook friendslist to his 5 "real" friends., and Ian and I do FB research together. In fact as soon as i looked at the flyer in the queue I realised it was the guy from Phoenix Nights which I've always hated. Oh noes!  But in fact it was a strange triumph. Justin had just had a crap review in the Scotsman - and was running on bad mood and adrenalin. the show went awry in various places and i sat down on a seat that wasn't there and fell over. it was all strangely intimate, like a really good pub conversation, even though there was a decent sized audience (which had also apparently surprised him.) Moorhouse had enough material that the show didn't disintegrate but he did keep stopping to say that this wasn't what it was normally like, and this was his "Implosion Tuesday." So we got  a bit of emotional honesty as well as some fairly good stand up which was more than I'd hoped for!

Then we took off to Bonsai for another fab meal (I hd the cheese gyoyza this time:-) and I drank the whole sake bottle on my own this time, which was fun if perhaps a mistake this morning .. before heading on to Assembly where we WERE going to see a dancey/martial arts thing called Feasting on Flesh but it was cancelled, the bastards! The staff all looked terribly embarrassed and admitted they hadn't sold very many tickets so,.. In fact it was all quite mellow as (useful info! ) Assembly Music Hall has incredibly comfy sofas, books lying around and free Internet plus bar!! plus great art for sale and a sculpture exhibition. so we chilled a bit and went home to collapse with Abba on VH1.

Phew! Now I have today (daytime anyway) off!!!

Things I still want to see and don't yet have takers for: Finnish comedy, Russell Kane, Andrew Maxwell, How to Get Anyone You Want To Sleep With You - let me know if you fancy any of these..

Also vaguely planning to organise an outing to Carnival des Phenomenones, at GB Teviot, poss on Sat Aug 23rd. Starts midnight. Has had good reports from London run & looks fabby. Anyone around and fancy it?

Oh , a last rec - went to the new Mother India on Infirmary St . Monday night,  and it was fab! They do Indian food tapas style, so v good for a large group, and also good for a mixed veggy/non veggy group which we had. I had (inter alia) a-mazing butter chicken (mmmm) which you can feel you can indulge in as it's only a small dish not yor whole main course!! oh god and the peshwari naan was to die for. Go!


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May 2009

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