The Edinburgh Fringe Experience

Monday 4th August, 2015

Today started with a 9:00 meet outside Pret in Kings Cross station.

By the time I arrived, most of the cast and crew had already assembled.

Our train was at 9:30 so we had a few minutes to buy supplies and get to platform 3.

We all hopped on and settled in; some of us slept, others read and Andy stared longingly out of the window BRIEF ENCOUNTER STYLES

I pretty much read solidly for 5 hours; I have to say, the journey absolutely flew by.

We arrived in Edinburgh at around 14:00 and hopped in a taxi to The Pleasance Courtyard, our home from home.

We had a bit of a wait for our keys, but once we got them, the whole team marched the ridiculously short distance from The Courtyard to our bolthole.

The rooms are nice. They’re student accommodation and staying here is both nostalgic and comforting. We have a nice communal kitchen and comfy rooms – it does make me want to by 2 litres of Strongbow and dress up in a toga, but I shall resist. RESIST THE TOGA

We didn’t have long at our flat before we were back down to the theatre for a 5 hour tech rehearsal and rig. OOO THAT STINGS

The Fear set in quick.

Just like our tech at The NDT, our Pleasance Tech started with a wing run. Can we fit everything in the wings, have enough room to change and not have to stand on each other’s shoulders just to be out of view … The answer was no … We couldn’t

We essentially had to ask The Pleasance staff to rebuild the wing space! Putting up new solid tabs, clearing everything they could from backstage and put temporary lighting about so we could see in the gloom.

Luckily for us, the Pleasance staff are awesome and they were more than happy to help, but I’ll tell you now, when we first came in, we were seriously worried about how we could make the show run.

Our plan was to complete our wing run, do a stagger-through for technical ques, then do a proper dress … It didn’t go according to plan …

We managed to complete our technical run but that was it … WE HAVEN’T HAD A DRESS REHEARSAL

Our first run at this show in the new space will be on opening night on Wednesday…. WE GOT THIS

After a mammoth day, we went back to our flat to change and were taken out for a wonderful dinner in town. Dinner became drinks and drinks became Stella, Andy and I in the kitchen at 04:00 in the morning with a bottle of wine and some Heinekens. DRUUUUUNK

Wednesday 5th August, 2015

We all woke with a real air of anticipation. Today was the day!

We spent the morning in quiet seclusion before meeting up around midday for a line run. Everyone was feeling very positive. Afterwards, we all trekked down to the van to grab our wonderful flyers and posters. HEAVY LIFTING! We have thousands!

We are doing flyering in shifts. Today, Dickie and Andy were first up. MARCH ON YOU THESBIAN SOLDIERS

The rest of us met up ridiculously early in The Courtyard. We had grand plans about being prepared for our first show, knowing that there were some very important people in the audience, but really it gave us too much time to grow nervous. We stood around like plums, occasionally putting the odd flyer on a table or chatting to passing punters, but everyone’s mind was on the show he HADN’T actually run yet … That show that had nearly sold out … That show we were doing for the national press … Yea, that show … AAAARRRGGHH

So, after too long, we went backstage to prepare. The whole venue was already running 20 minutes late because of issues earlier in the day so we felt the time pressure.

Everything seemed to be going smoothly enough. We stowed our stuff in the wings and set our quick-change costumes. Me and Stella got into bed ALO ALO and the lights went out…

The Show was not great… SAD FACE

It was a sloppy state of affairs; I wouldn’t blame the audience if they thought that we’d had a few too many to drink, or that we simply could manage our tech-heavy show.

The truth is, that was essentially our dress rehearsal! Our first go at it in the space! And we came up against a number of unforeseen bumps in an already bumpy road.

I mean, it wasn’t bad – Lynn Gardner was nice about us in her review – but it stings a little when you know you could do it so much better. HEY HO

We headed to the bar to console ourselves afterwards and ended up having a wicked night as a cast.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings…

Thursday 6th August 2015

Caught my first show in The Pleasance today. We have these performer’s passes that allow us to see stuff for free; it’s time to get my money’s worth! FREE STUFF!

Me and Stella were off flyering today! Turns out, I SUCK at flyering. FLYER FAIL

I hate having to ‘big up’ something I’m in! It makes me feel a bit sick. Nevertheless, we gave it a good go. I sheepishly wondered around Edinburgh like that one kid at school no one wants to eat lunch with. Stella, on the other hand, is a natural!

We pretty much flyered the whole of the afternoon. We saw so much of the city and bumped into all manner of friends, past and present. A really good afternoon, all things considered.

The cast and crew met an hour before the show to talk about our slightly disappointing show yesterday. A lot of what went wrong was logistical; our wheelie bed, our wheelie doors, and our wing usage. Also, offstage noise had to be addressed. 90% of these issues boil down to blind panic; there wasn’t a calm one among us yesterday and it showed.

Tonight, things went a lot better. So much better, in fact. We were so happy we’ve returned to form.

David left with a smile on his face and a spring in his step; which is always a reassuring sight.

I popped home after the show, munching on a buffalo burger MMMM BUFFALO and headed out later for some stand-up. It was “meh”.

Home now. I need an early night. SO THIS IS BEING SOBER … NOT SURE I’M A FAN …

Friday 7th August 2015

A big day of theatre today. Two plays before lunch!

The first I was invited along as a reviewer and was a really a real treat, the second was an interesting bag … THEY WERE OUT TO OFFEND … and they did. I felt like my Grandma at a Slipknot concert.

This lifestyle is hard to maintain. I feel tired all the time and my mind is fit to burst with the amount I’m trying to cram in it. NOT TO MENTION THE BOOZE. It’s like a constant party and a constant lecture all mixed into one. Especially when you have agreed to review. I see about two shows a day that I write about; drunk or not, I am awake at 2:00 every morning at my laptop. This blog is the closest thing I get to down time here.

The show went really well again and afterwards I went to see an absolutely stonking play involving singing taxidermy. WHAT A HOOT.

I was on my way home when I bumped into the charming Oli Forsyth who quickly sat me down and put a pint in my hand. Before too long, the tequila came out and I was going off on one about ex-girlfriends … SMOOTH MOVE BAKER, SMOOTH MOVE

Saturday 8th August 2015

I couldn’t leave my room. I ordered a Papa John’s the second it turned midday and sat in there like a fragile husk of a man; like shed skin. UURRGGHH

Part hungover, part exhausted, I tried to write but couldn’t so watched cartoons instead. IM SO GROWN UP.

I finally came to my senses, took a couple of multivitamins and went to see a friend’s show. The acting was incredible and the play was very touching. I DONE A CRY (but this might have been the result of how sorry I was feeling for myself as much as the play itself)

I was sloppy in the show tonight and I lacked focus. Feeling guilty, I tucked myself away for the rest of the night to finally finish my reviews and lay off the sauce. I hope I feel better tomorrow…

Monday 10th August 2015

No shows for me to see today; I spent the day in my room feeling altogether rather shoddy.

You feel a strange kind of guilt when you do this; up here, surrounded by so much to do; but I needed to regain my strength.

So, quietly I sat, watching films and TV shows until it was time to venture out to do the show. I downed two litres of water, took some painkillers and headed to The Courtyard.

Today was our first sell-out show! The audience was rammed and we were tense, seeing as our last performance was a bit of a disappointment. We met for notes and David gave us a few thoughts to be going on with.

The play went up and, luckily, we nailed it to the floor OOOHH YYYEEAAA

A show we could be proud of.

I bumped into a couple of my central mates after the show and we all headed out to a terrible venue playing some of the most harrowingly popular music you can think of. It was terrible. I also felt at least a decade older than anyone else in the room. Luckily, Mr. Booze was on hand to make it all run a little smoother. I headed back around 03:00, I have two show to see before lunch tomorrow.

Tuesday 11th August 2015.

I was up at 10:00 and showered and dressed before anyone else in the flat; a rarity.

I saw two shows today; one poor, the other superb.

I had a Full Scottish Breakfast today; four different kinds of meet piled into a bap with a potato cake on the side. HEART ATTACK. It was delicious.

Around 13:30, I went back to the flat to write and spent the rest of the day in my room. The only problem with agreeing to review is how much time it takes, it’s lucky that we aren’t writing negatively about anything; we only write about the plays we can endorse. I would never leave my computer if were slandering as well as supporting!

OUR SECOND SELL-OUT SHOW!

We performed even better tonight! We even got a standing ovation from some of the crowd. Felt good. This play is finally hitting its stride. Was in bed by 12:00 tonight .. TIRED IS’NT EVEN THE WORD

Wednesday 12th August 2015

Another quiet day for me today; I refused to leave the flat. I see a pattern emerging now…

I shuffled on down to The Courtyard at around 4:30 so we could have notes and get ready for the show.

Its ‘Black Wednesday’ today; an Edinburgh Phenomenon. Historically, The second Wednesday of August has the lowest ticket sales for the whole of the month. Down & Out, however, had a packed house … I’m not sure if this was a blessing or a curse …

The show was a shambles again.

Why this keeps happening, I can’t rightly tell. All I know is that this play breaks down like a crack in a dam. If one little thing goes off beam, the play quickly falls apart around us. The audience seemed to enjoy it, but we knew. We knew it wasn’t good enough.

Tonight was the night that I had my girlfriend’s family in to see the show; they were very nice about it but I wish they had seen a show that we were happy with.

Early night again tonight. Not in the mood for drink.

Thursday 13th August 2015

Up early again to go and see two show. One was a let down, the other was immense. If you ever get a chance to see Gecko Theatre Company, go; they are awesome.

Was invited out to lunch today with Stella and her mum, having seen Gecko with them. We went to a healthy, veggie place; needed it after the volume of meat I’ve been eating.

We got back in time for notes and tried to make a few adjustments to the show; although, it’s hard to put a finger on what happens when the play fails.

The show went well on our end, but we had a silent audience; not a peep. It was disconcerting but it happens.

Afterwards, I popped home for a few minutes to write and then the whole company were taken out for a meal and drinks. The food was amazing and afterwards there was Tequila … SOOO YEAAAAA

Friday 14th August 2015

After a heavy night on the tequila, booking in to review a 10:00 was not the smartest of moves. Nevertheless, I dragged myself out of bed and traipsed down to the venue; I felt like someone had dropkicked me in the stomach and filled my skull with vampire termites. Luckily, the show was quite interesting if not a bit loud.

I headed back afterwards to write and spent much of the afternoon in my room.

We had a sell-out show tonight and it went really well – we seem to be hitting our stride now ., It’s taken long enough.

Didn’t have it in me to stay out late, so I pootled off to bed after the show. Tomorrow should be a lot more interesting.

Saturday 15th August 2015

I saw two shows today; one of which blew my mind, the other was monstrously poor. Shame; it had the makings to be something special but it was terribly constructed and poorly executed.

Another sell out show tonight!

My parent's met me afterwards and we tried to get a table somewhere for dinner. After 45 minutes of trekking up and down Pleasance, we were finally defeated and resigned ourselves to going our separate ways. After a quick dinner back at the flat, I bundled over to the girl's flat for wine; turned into a bit of a heavy one SURPRISE SURPRISE

Sunday 16th August 2015

My parents came round again today.

They have rented out a nice place in the suburbs for the week.

The thing about the weekends here is that they are packed with people. It’s the two days when most of the performers here run to the hills to get away from it all; I had different plans. After another sell-out show YESSS, it was time to get busy.

I met with a new, old friend; Nikita. She is my girlfriend’s closest companion from drama school; they are kindred spirits. I have heard so much about her that I felt like I’d known her for years – today was the second time we’ve ever met.

After a fancy meal with the folks, Nikita and I hit the town. We started off in Brewdogs for a few crafts and a long chat before moving on to a ping-pong bar - I KNOW RIGHT – it was actually a heap of fun. We met one of Nikita’s friends their randomly and played until they heft us out. We then went to the crummiest club in Edinburgh – literally the only people there – and drank some nasty pints of piss. Before we knew it, it was 05:00 in the morning and it was time to attempt to get home. We piled Nikita into a taxi and started to walk. En route, we bumped into a girl crying on the street; it turns out she had been punch in the face. We walked her home before turning in ourselves. EVENTFUL NIGHT…

Monday 17th August 2015

Today was my day off! No show to speak of! It was 16:00 before I could even face the outside world. PAPA JOHNS TO THE RESCUE

I went on a trip down memory lane today. Or, more to the point, a trip down my mum’s memory lane. She was a child in Edinburgh before she moved to Pakistan. We went to visit the house she used to live in. It was a sweet little thing, tucked away in a cul-de-sac. It looked out of place, surrounded by larger, more boring homes. We then drove round to her old school; it was no longer there. The buildings still stand, barely, and those that do have become an amateur dramatics theatre and a rugby club. It was great seeing these places and it meant a lot to my mum too.

We went to see a show together in the evening; it was very exciting and pretty twisted.

I stayed at my folk’s apartment tonight and had a barbeque TUNA STEAK WIN

I can’t tell you how great it was to sleep in a comfy bed; the ones in the halls could’ve been donated by HMP Edinburgh.

SWEET DREAMS

Tuesday 18th August 2015

Having woken up in the luxury of my folk’s apartment, it was hard to get back to the grind and write up the show I saw yesterday. Seeing as their internet was down, this meant getting the tram back to Prince’s Street and marching back up to ours.

I spent much of the day typing away; probably the hardest review I’ve had to write so far.

We were all worried that, having just had a day off, the show would suffer; luckily, it didn’t.

Another sell-out, my folks in the front row… WHAT COULD GO WRONG!?

The fam went for dinner again at a curry house near The Courtyard. SPICY

Afterwards, I joined in with the cast as they finished a pub quiz, placing an admirable 9th. We then went back to the flat for many bottles of wine. And gin..

It finished up with Dickie and I drinking into the wee hours. I got some really sound advice about this profession but an actor I admire. It was good.

Tomorrow is going to be rough – at 01:00 we ran out of tonic so it was neat gin from there on in… HANGOVER PENDING

Wednesday 19th August

Ouch. Last night was being paid for this morning, tenfold.

I went out to see a show at lunch time to find it was sold out. Andy, Maddy and I went to the Courtyard to see if anything else was on; they decided on a show that I had already been to review, so I left them to it and when home.

I think I have hit a bit of a midway slump. It’s harder to do anything productive with my days. I will have to snap out of this or I’ll miss out on everything Edinburgh has left to offer.

After the show tonight - A BIT ROPY - I popped home for dinner before heading out to a very unique and terrible show. Worst one yet. By far. The gang went to the pub after and discussed what we hated most about it; it turns out, we all hated everything the most.

Tonight is the midway party for all Pleasance Performers, Technical teams and Staff. I had high hopes of it being a good night. That hope was misplaced. It was like the first night of Fresher’s week in there. I’ll be washing pheromones out of my clothes for weeks. Drinks were cheap though, but I could only stomach the event for about 45mins. Went back to the flat with Helen and relaxed.

#DownOut #Theatre #EdFringe2015

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