Edinburgh festival fringe: reviewing pop culture and pillow fights

Article published on Aug. 5, 2012
community published
Article published on Aug. 5, 2012
With the editorial office on summer holiday and the cafebabel admin choosing to be less than cooperative, the poetry blog will be doubling as a fringe review blog for the next couple of weeks! Reviews will be republished on the magazine asap. The Edinburgh festival fringe programme can yield a feeling akin to panic.
With the programme as thick as a telephone directory, how can anyone make an informed decision about what to see? A random sampling of the delights (or otherwise) on offer

Het Geluid Maastricht: Life is too good to be true

In a few words: Better than the title

Why did I go? I bumped into a friend working on the show and was infected by her enthusiasm

Life is too good to be true Actor Gable Roelofsen in Life is too good to be true. (Image: © Flavia Fraser-Cannon)

This is definitely the show that I’ve contemplated and quoted the most. The drama, which won the 2010 Best of the Amsterdam Fringe award, looks at the way we create the world we want to live in and at how this world comes crashing down around us. Intimate staging draws the audience into the action: for the first half of the play we might be the therapy group of protagonist Stephen Glass, a real-life American journalist who fabricated many of his stories. The acting is stunning: despite his changing character and gender half-way through a fifty minute monologue, there isn’t a moment where we stop believing in Gable Roelofsen’s characters. Nonetheless, there was something about the show which didn’t quite gel – maybe it was trying to make its message just a bit too clear. However, anyone interested in post-modernism should definitely go see this – it demonstrates hyper-reality better than a textbook ever could.

Showing at 11.35 until 13 August. Venue: Underbelly, Cowgate. (The show has been touring internationally, so don’t despair if you miss it in Edinburgh!)

Tumble Circus: This is what we do for a living

In a few words: I went to the circus!!

Why did I go? I was offered a free ticket twenty minutes before the show: this is a common tactic to get bums on seats when reviewers are in

Tumble Circus is a Swedish-Irish duo, once married, now divorced, still working together. The performance tells the story of their explosive relationship. The tempo is fairly slow but the show is technically stunning and at points extremely moving. 'This is what we do for a living' strips any razzle-dazzle from the idea of circus and presents the barebones of juggling and gymnastics through two engaging performers. The couple’s interaction with the audience (including outrageously flirting with two (un)lucky spectators) and their blunt self-deprecation is hilarious and occasionally heart-wrenching. So while you will definitely find more spectacular circus shows, do go and see this one. It may the only show at the fringe which ends in an audience-versus-performers pillow fight.

tumble_circus.jpg Tumble circus' trapeze routine. (Image: (cc) Underbelly/ Facebook)

Showing at 15:40 until 27 August. Venue: Underbelly, Bristo Square

Michael Mittermeier: A German on Safari

In a few words: Thoroughly enjoyable, but not hugely original

Why did I go? My friend has a German fetish

Mittermeier’s performance is slick and fast-paced. There are a couple of cringe-worthy moments, such as thanking the Americans in the audience for the fact that the world now hates the USA rather than Germany… Nonetheless, Mittermeier’s lampooning of stereotypes and self-deprecation as a German comedian (‘there are only three of us’) and also as a German abroad ensures that the audience chuckles and frequently splutters throughout. However, from a performance co-produced by the great Eddie Izzard, I would have hoped for a bit more originality. Making fun of the ugliness of the German language has been done to death. German can be a beautiful language: get over it and move on.

Showing at 21:30 until 27 August. Venue: Pleasance Courtyard

Denis Krasnov’s hour of intellectual filth

In a few words: Don’t. Just don’t

Why did I go? A friend works at the venue and was offered free tickets

The description (and title) of 'Intellectual filth' make it clear that the humour here will only be dirty. When done well, bad taste comedy can be hilarious. Sadly, not this time. Denis Krasnov’s act is unpolished and unstructured. There are moments when the American comedian seems to be making it up as he goes along, and when the audience doesn’t respond to jokes he repeats them endlessly, rather than swiftly moving onwards. The result? Half-way through the show I went to the entire audience walked out. Perhaps we were just too sober – fringe audiences can be quite rowdy and there is certainly a stage of drunkenness that would find this funny. But unless you’re roaringly drunk, I would steer well clear of this late night show.

Showing at 23:45 until 26 August. Venue: The Caves