Just wait till August.
Since we’ve arrived in Edinburgh, I’ve been well aware of what August means to Edinburgh. Every August, Edinburgh hosts The Festival which includes the International Festival (contemporary and classic theatre, opera, world music, and dance), Edinburgh Book Festival, Edinburgh Art Festival (featuring new work by UK and international artists), the Military Tatoo, The Fringe (world’s largest performing arts festival with thousands shows), and lots of street performers. Oh, and every evening ends with fireworks above the castle. I guess that’s pretty cool.
On Monday, Andrew and I decided to have a “Fringe” day to watch 2 shows. We were originally going to watch a third, but after hearing their Royal Mile performance on Youtube, we decided to just save our money. There are many free shows, but nothing jumped out at me with my schedule. While this is the largest performing arts festival in the world, this doesn’t mean that the all the shows are “the best of the best.” You really need to do your research beforehand. The Fringe has no selection committee and anyone can participate with any type of performance. Anyways, here are my reviews of the two shows we watched.
Macho Like Me is a one-woman show about Helie Lee’s six-month experience living as a man. Helie Lee is a Korean-American writer and university lecturer who made a documentary called Macho Like Me. The show uses clips from her documentary interspersed through her monologues. I especially enjoyed her inclusion of her parents in her clips. The show was entertaining and enlightening, but it’s really hard to go to a show with 6 other audience members. Unfortunately, I’m a terrible audience member because I never laugh out loud.
I was initially really excited about this. The Last Five Years is a modern musical written by Jason Robert Brown, a composer I’ve really enjoyed. The Last Five Years tells the story of a five-year relationship from meeting to breakup of a couple told by both sides. One side of the story is told in chronological order while the other side is told in reverse chronological order. The music is beautiful. The production at the Fringe however was very disappointing. The theatre group that put this show were college students and I understand that this is a difficult show to perform, but the actor that played Jamie was terribly casted. He missed his first notes on almost all of his songs. I also felt that he was yelling most of the time. It was so annoying. His character is supposed to be likable for at least the first half of the show, but I could not like him at all. In addition, the violinist missed key parts. You could tell that the actress that played Cathy was an amateur who probably needed more direction for her character and her belting songs, but she was at least likable. I was so upset after watching this show, I had to listen to the soundtrack on Youtube when we got home. For this reason, we decided to skip out on our third show we had originally planned to go to.
I love the buzz of the city and the busyness of it all, but to be honest, I was expecting much more. Maybe I worked too much to really experience it, but would I really describe August as crazy? I would describe August in Edinburgh as an month of slow walkers, drama students flooding the street, and empty buildings getting their month of fame. Oh, and rain and a couple days with sun. 😔