We’ve just got back from our annual trip to the hugely inspiring and exciting Edinburgh Festival
Fringe and International Festival, and as always have seen a host of incredible performances, many
hilarious and refreshing in their escapism, many more of them angry, political and very important.
It is always an amazing experience to see a performer for the first time, who fills an hour with words
that keep you thinking for weeks. This year, that performance came from Hannah Gadsby who I’m
ashamed to say I hadn’t seen before, but who I’m thankful and grateful – and still a bit emotional –
to have seen this year, before she no longer performs stand up comedy – these Edinburgh shows are
her last. A stand up performer who has a lot to say on sexuality, homophobia, violence and
startlingly closed minded individuals from her up bringing in Tasmania and beyond. It’s an
unbelievably honest and surprising hour – I have never experienced hysterical laughter before being
brought to uncontrollable sobbing, consecutively, in equal measures, in any performance before. If
you are as frustratingly late to this woman as I am, keep your eyes out for the future of Hannah
Gadsby, because whatever she does post comedy (writing, I hope) I’m sure will be absolutely vital.
From one highlight to another, worlds apart in genre and substance, but equally as captivating a
performance. Meow Meow cemented herself as the greatest cabaret showgirl in the world a long
time ago in my mind, and what is so incredible about her is that every time I’ve seen her on stage it’s
been doing something very different. Her look and style might remain the same, and her cover of
Radiohead’s Fake Plastic Trees seems to make it into every single one of her personas, but from
Shakespeare to her ‘Meowtopia’ cabaret show, and this time to a new take on ‘The Little Mermaid’
story, she manages to embody so many different characters. It’s extraordinary. This is an evening
full of glitter and innuendo, blow up fish, crowdsurfing in a corset and breathtaking vocals in her
songs and I just loved it. Until next time, Meow, whatever it is you’ll be doing, I can’t wait.
So from thought provoking and heart breaking, to hilarious and glamorous, there was everything in
between. We joined in a game show in a tiny room above a pub one lunch time, saw drag Margret
Thatcher row with puppet Nicola Sturgeon, was left speechless by Selina Thompson‘s hugely
powerful one woman performance about race and slavery in ‘salt.’ at Summerhall, witnessed a film
being created live with shadow puppets and overhead projectors in ‘Luna Del Ray’ at Udderbelly and
– I still can’t quite believe it – sat in the beautiful Edinburgh Playhouse while PJ Harvey and her
wonderful, powerful, 9 piece band played a storming set of her incredible and politically charged
back catalogue of songs.
Here’s to next year. And in the mean time – on the horizon, I’m very aware – I get to programme
our theatre space for the Brighton Fringe next May. Feeling inspired and energised by what we’ve
just experienced, I’m less daunted about our second Fringe as I had been, and am looking forward to
getting stuck in to the whole process again.
Not, may I add, before October the 1 st .