After a hectic day and a half at the Edinburgh Fringe last weekend Theatre correspondent Nick Ahad reviews the seven shows he saw in just 29 hours.
I’m a little confused: 29 hours in Edinburgh and for some reason I only got round to seeing seven shows. What was I doing with the other 22 hours?
The Edinburgh Fringe does that to you; messes with your perceptions. I saw seven theatre shows between 3pm Saturday and 8pm Sunday last weekend. By normal yardsticks, that’s quite a lot of theatre. In Edinburgh in August, that’s taking it easy.
The 29-hour jaunt begins with Overshare, the first production by newly-created Leeds theatre company Pieces of Us. A mish mash of styles, Brechtian hyperreality sits alongside domestic drama as the audience is incorporated and performed to, the spine of the play is based on a true life story of an ostensibly Asian woman raised by her white parents as white. It tackles social norms and social abnormalities and proves a gentle way to ease myself into Edinburgh.
Blueswater Presents: Blues! was a hot, sticky, stunner of a show in its sixth year at the Fringe. An epicly talented band of 12 musicians tell the story of the blues, explaining how the music has influenced pretty much every musician you’ve heard of. Energetic, fun, informative, it’s little wonder this collective return year on year. The Pleasance Courtyard is the heart of the constant debate about whether or not there is too much comedy at the Fringe. There isn’t. Terry Alderton is a brilliant stand-up, but this show is performance art with Alderton playing several characters and challenging the audience to not just to keep up but follow him on an ever more surreal journey. I’ve no idea if I liked it but I couldn’t tear my eyes away. Then came sleep. Sunday 10am, I’m at Summerhall where several Yorkshire artists including Javaad Alipoor have been winning great praise. I saw Alipoor’s The Believers are But Brothers in Leeds, so I start with one of a number of shows at the festival under Arab Arts, a collection of contemporary work from the Arab world.
In The Second Copy, 2045, I’m fifty per cent of the audience. I don’t like to be negative, but it is an hilariously bad show. Impenetrable, unfathomable, the only entertainment comes from the apparent sincerity of the performer while he balances a shoe on his back for two minutes that feel like 20, derriere pointed at the audience. Both of us. A very funny reminder of what gold panning it can be to spend a day at the Fringe. Next, a nugget.
Taha, the story of the much loved Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali. One of the most powerful and extraordinary performances you might witness, it is heartbreaking and beautiful.
Bradford’s Asif Khan continues to tour his incredibly funny one-man show Love, Bombs and Apples. A story of a Palestinian looking for adult fun, a confused Pakistani-British man whose appalling novel is mistaken for a terrorist manual and a young Bradford boy who likes to sneak up on the Westfield shopping centre. I’m almost out of time.
Leeds-based performer Selina Thompson’s Salt has been getting five stars. It’s easy to see why. It’s coming to Yorkshire, hopefully, soon. When it does, see it.
My 29 hours is up.