Fringe diary, day one: terrible food and terrific theatre

4 Aug 2012 @ 10.22 am
| Entertainment
Did Shappi make Ian happy?

Ian ColeYork musician Ian J Cole‘s is on a mission to see as many Edinburgh Festival Fringe shows as possible, and report back on the hits and misses for YorkMix. What’s occurring on Day One?


Over the border

I got to York Railway Station a good half hour before my train to Edinburgh was due to leave, the journey was uneventful apart from a three-year-old running up and down the carriage at top speed. The mother spent the whole and a half hour journey glued to her mobile phone: clearly texting was more important than entertaining her daughter…

On arrival in Edinburgh I was surprised to find that the council had turned the Waverley Railway Station into a building site, so much so that it was impossible to find my way out.

Eventually I did find an exit onto Princes Street only to find it suffering tram building fatigue. It looks no different than it did two years ago when I was last at the Fringe when work had just began on the Edinburgh streetcar system.

In my last blog I was bemoaning the fact that I’d left it very late to book my hotel and I was pleasantly surprised with my first impressions of the Shandwick Place Travelodge. It’s quiet, small and very functional with fantastically helpful staff.

After a wander around, and the purchase of a pink felt cat badge, I arrived for my first show.

6.30pm The Boat Factory by Happenstance Theatre Company

I arrived 30 minutes early after a terrible pub meal on Rose Street and sat in a fantastic Chesterfield sofa waiting for the start. The company was formed in February 2008 by Philip Crawford, Laura Hughes and Catherine Kelly. Their website says:

“Happenstance Theatre Company aspires to bring high quality drama to increasingly informed audiences in a way that entertains and educates. The centrepiece of our company activity is the play. We aim to produce drama of complex simplicity, which is uncluttered and meticulous.”

Which is the biggest load of old tosh I’ve ever read on a website.

The play is a two-man effort performed by its writer Dan Gordon and Michael Condron. And this is an amazing piece of theatre.

It tell the story of two friends Davy Gordon (Dan Gordon) and Geordie Kilpatrick (Michael Condron) who work in the Harland & Wolff shipyard as indentured apprentices. Throughout the hour and 20 minutes of the play these two fine actors take us though a host of amazing characters.

There are a couple of creaky moments and one scene is a little too long but this play is one of the must see shows of the 2012 Fringe. You will be laughing at moment and close to tears the next, such is the power of this work.

After the power of The Boat Factory I was looking forward to Shappi Khorsandi as I trekked across the city arrive at the venue with five minutes to spare.

8.30 Shappi Khorsandi: Dirty Looks and Hopscotch

Shappi is an Iranian-born comedian who lives in London, I’d seen on TV a few times and she made me laugh and unlike a lot of comedian’s off the telly her tickets were cheap so what did I have to lose?

Well the answer is an hour of my time. This show was a disappointment as the material just wasn’t funny enough. Shappi’s comic delivery is fine but she lacks really good funny jokes.

The premise for the show is her talking about her crap ex-rock star boyfriend and she doesn’t shy away from the seedier side of her sex life. We had been subjected to stories and language that some people clearly found distasteful as two members of the audience walked out before the end. I wasn’t offended but this show just wasn’t very good.

10:45pm The Boom Jennies: Mischief

Last show of this first day was The Boom Jennies, whom I’d never heard of but their bit on the Fringe website had very good reviews.

The Boom Jennies are Lizzie Bates, Catriona Knox and Anna Emerson, their show Mischief was sold to me as a ‘riotous sketch comedy from this critically acclaimed, feel-good fun confederacy. Late night, party style and jam-packed with jokes and silliness with the adage that this was a must see show’ (Three Weeks).

The Boom Jennies play a range of characters and are clearly very talented but the sketches were not riotous with some being funnier than others. Again like Shappi’s show the Boom Jennies need better jokes and a good script writer, someone to hone their raw ideas into something very funny. This wasn’t rubbish but it could have been a lot better.