I need to start by saying that I don’t have any special insider knowledge, or even a decent overview, when it comes to recommending stuff for the festivals. I basically know much the same as anyone with a programme (or rather, many many programmes). However, friends do keep asking me for recommendations, so I wanted to make a page to point them to. Here are some random thoughts, both about shows and about places to hang out. No guarantees. Many are free.
If you want theatre, you need to go and read Lyn Gardner’s piece and she will see you straight. I am not your woman for theatre (although I’m blogging a couple of Traverse plays and will certainly try to see more theatre than that). I also know bog all about comedy, although I’ll tell you tomorrow whether Susan Calman was any good.
I am on slightly less shaky ground with science. Robin Ince is back at the Free Fringe for two days only (13th and 14th – though at 4 shows a day he’s certainly cramming them in) and I’d recommend you try to see him – he was great last year. His shows are free but last year there was a weird thing where you had to turn up early in the day to bag yourself a queuing ticket. You might want to pop into the Canon’s Gait and find out what hoops you have to jump through this time.
Chris Cooper is tremendously interesting on drugs in sport – not something I would have sought out but I saw him at the Science Festival and he was excellent. He’s at the Book Festival on the 27th at 11am (£10)
Sceptics on the Fringe is a fab series of science/sceptical talks, 8:30 each night at the Banshee Labyrinth, also free. Get there early if the subject looks good. I went to a couple of these last year and they were great. They also have a bunch of other talks and tours that I haven’t looked at yet.
Banshee Labyrinth is also the home of a whole bunch of fab spoken word. Don’t know what spoken word is? Emily Dodd explains brilliantly on her blog here, while Jenny Lindsey just wrote a great article about the new spoken word section in the Fringe programme – which is a good place to start by the way.
Things that should be storming
– the whole Utter! series at the Banshee Labyrinth (15th-25th, 7:30, free) – if I hadn’t completely overcommitted myself already I’d particularly be trying to see Utter!nomics (a comparative economics poetry slam, yes really), Utter! Ladies and Utter! Scots
– many of the Unbound late-night books festival performances which are (at 9pm in the book festival Spiegeltent, free). Top of my list would be Literary Death Match on the 17th – which is awesome – and Illicit Ink’s Magic Words on the 15th)
– Richard Tyrone Jones’s Big Heart (6pm at Banshee Labyrinth plus some accessible performances elsewhere) – a spoken word show about cardiomyopathy – he did a snippet of this at the last Inky Fingers and it looks fab. I’m definitely trying to fit this one in, and I’m really annoyed I can’t make it on the 14th, when there’s a post-show discussion with cardiac experts.
I don’t see as much dance as I’d like to but something I’d recommend from last year is Falling Man, a piece about 9/11. It’s combined with two new pieces by the same company in Within this dust at Dancebase (7th-19th, £12, selling out as we speak).
For kids, I’m told The Snail and the Whale is great for the littlies (£9.50/£8.50 concessions though). For over-7s I’ve heard great things about Puppet State Theatre (£9/£7, on till the 14 at the Storytelling Centre).
However, if your kids are as obsessed with diggers as Mr Woodsmoke’s godchildren, just take them down to the Cowgate where there are two big yellow ones on that site under South Bridge! And the kids seemed to enjoy just walking up the Royal Mile watching the random performers.
I’ll mention some havens for my fellow introverts who need some chill-out space and tea:
The National Museum of Scotland cafe wasn’t as busy as I expected the other day, although this may not last, they may get horrible (although will be better when the schools go back). They do have the best fruit tea in town (strawberry and mango) though it’s also the most expensive (£2.40). Fantastic millionaire’s shortbread too. If you’re looking for a quiet area, go and look at the Japanese inro.
Pulp Fiction bookshop has the cheapest fruit tea (£1.30) and it’s decent stuff. Nice chilled bookshop with wi-fi.
If you’re at the Holyrood end of the Royal Mile, go to the Scottish Poetry Library to read a bit of poetry or just chill out. Free wi-fi, although if you want tea you’ll have to get it at the Starbucks round the corner (whose fruit tea is terrible).
Right, that’s all I’ve got just now although there may be a follow-up with all the things I’ve forgotten. I’d love to hear your recommendations!