Friday, 19 June 2009

First Thoughts About the Programme

Now that I've had a few days to digest the Fringe guide, here's my initial thoughts....

First of all... No Tim Minchin! I'm very disappointed. The good news is, he's playing the Usher Hall in October and doing a UK wide tour, so most readers will still have a chance to see him.

As for the general themes of the shows; in hindsight I really should have seen the "credit crunch" coming... I suppose I indirectly predicted it when I said that the big news stories would all be covered. The reason I didn't include it was because people are tired of the credit crunch. No-one can even be bothered about talking about it down the pub any more. It might still be affecting us, but we all just wish it would F*** Off! So to me, picking it as the main theme for your show probably isn't the wisest thing to do, but I guess it's all about how the shows are pitched, which brings me on to my first fun rant/marketing lecture of the year....

The world limit for listings in the Fringe guide is around 50 words by the looks of things.... The fringe guide and the website are the first things that people look at when choosing a show, so most people would agree that using those 50 words wisely and thinking carefully about how you want to come across would be a sensible approach.

But the way that some people waste this opportunity really does my head in!

Here's an example:

The Hat

"This is the story of a hat. A hat with a history. A hat with a story. A hat with a soul. Love, despair; murder. And the one thing they all have in common is.... the hat.

Do people not read this back to themselves and say "How will people react to that? What sort of person would it attract?"

What utter self indulgent meaningless twaddle! All I can guess is that it was attempting to provoke curiosity. Instead it conjures up images of a terrible play focusing on an inanimate object in a vain attempt to stop the audience noticing the lack of a meaningful plot.

What was the name of the theatre company?

Brick Wall Theatre Co.

Need I say any more?

Not everyone can name drop famous people who have worked on the project, or quote from fantastic reviews from previous shows, so you need to really sell the show and write something that will inspire your target market to buy a ticket or find out more.

Anyway, on to the shows I do fancy seeing....

The 150th anniversary of the publication of On The Origin Of Species and the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, have inspired three shows (that I've spotted so far) to go out of their way to celebrate, all of them comedies. "The Rap Guide to Evolution" Looks to be the most interesting to me "Scientifically accurate and seriously funny" is the promise.

The other shows are:

Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection or the Survival of (R)evolutionary Theories in the Face of Scientific and Ecclesiastical Objections: being a Musical Comedy about Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

All of the above is the title! Could be entertaining.

The other play is simply entitled "Origins" and doesn't really jump out at me.

Pythonesque... A play about Monty Python has the potential to be very funny, but people have been trying to piggy back on the success of python at the Fringe for years and I've never seen anyone really do well out of it! I'll be looking out for reviews of it to see if it's worth going to before buying a ticket.

The Faulty Towers Dining Experience, sounds like much more of a safe bet. Dinner Theatre, with a three course meal served by Manuel and Basil sounds inpossible to screw up and judging by last years reviews they put on quite a show! Cheaper at lunch time: £29 versus £39 in the evening.

"Bob's Date" sounds funny. When you think of dating and theatre, it's more common to see things from a woman's perspective.... It would be refreshing to empathise with a bloke as he stumbles through a date.

Close up Magician Lewis Barlow would probably be fun in you like magic (which I do). Less heavily advertised but far more experienced is Ian Kendall in his "18th Birthday Magic Show"... They are both reasonably priced at £8.50 and on at the same time in the evening (9pm) which is a shame. I've seen Ian Kendall before and he's a very safe bet!

Comedy wise, I want to see Lloyd Langford's show. He was very good when I saw him a couple of years ago in a 4-in-1 comedy night. Stand up's tend to be hit or miss and it's always hard to tell from their listings how good they'll be so I'm not going to recommend any more comedians based on just their listings.

The following comedians listed below are all people that I enjoyed and gave a positive review of last year (you can find the reviews in this blog):

Jim Jeffries
Nik Coppin
Dan Willis
Rich Hall
Tommy and the Weeks

Chris Cox is a chirpier version of Derren Brown and worth a look (again you can see a review on this blog).

I've heard good things about "Midsummer" at the Traverse, Axis of Awesome and Adam Hill. but not seen any of them.

I'll do another post about free Fringe shows, but before I finish I have to mention "Shaggers" which is basically three comedians sharing their sex stories every night, and it's free!

Food for thought anyway.... Still over two months until the Fringe starts.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Quick Tip

I may have mentioned this on the blog last year, but it's worth repeating anyway.....

If you are flying in to Edinburgh, make sure you sit on the left hand side of the plane, by the window.

No matter which way you approach the runway, you get stunning views either of the castle, Arthurs Seat and the city if you are coming from the East, or of the Forth Bridges if you are coming in from the West.

If it's your first vsit to Edinburgh and you get a view of the city on a nice clear day as you arrive, it'll set the scene perfectly for your visit!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Fringe Guide Out Tomorrow....

It's that time of year again!

The fringe guide is out tomorrow, so it's time for all us fringe junkies to head down to the high street to pick up a copy or three!

It'll be interesting to see what kind of shows will be included this year.

As always, I expect current affairs to play a major role. American politics is always a favourite with theatre groups and comedians from across the pond, but many groups and comedians from outside the US also like to have their say.

With Obama coming in I expect at least one show to tell his story, with many more commenting on the new hope that he has brought to the world. Also expect to see some kind of "what's he doing now" show on George W. Bush. Comedians and satirists everywhere lost a massive source of material when he left office, but I'm sure one or two will try to keep milking it.

My favourite show onAmerican Politics last year was "The Patriot Act". I saw it on the first day and it was excellent then. Judging by the 5-star review in The Scotsman the show must have improved even more! I'll be looking out for the cast and company again this year and taking in anything they put on. I'm glad to see Will Lyman, the main star was nominated for an "Excellence in Acting" Award in 2008. (If anyone knows the name of the theatre company then please let me know - a quick google search proved inconclusive).

Away from American politics, it wouldn't surprise me if there was a show about pirates (the mordern version). People need to have their show information in to the Fringe Office by April to ensure they are included in the guide - so they have to decide what the main theme of the show is going to be by then, and the pirate story was at it's peak around that time. For the same reason, we won't see any shows about MP's expenses although I'm sure a few of the left wing comedians will include it in their stand up act.

So that's what I'm expecting, but I have no idea if I'm right or not and I'm looking forward to seeing what the fringe has to offer...

Of course, I'll be keeing an eye out for my favourites, such as Tim Minchin, The Trap (who missed last year - but I'm hoping they'll be back with another installment of the "Bad Play" series), and Daniel Kitson, who is poigniant but at the same time razor sharp - especially when he gets a heckler!

I'll post an update once I've had a few days to digest what's on and let everyone know what I'm looking forward to!