In addition to the excitement of writing and appearing in a play at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, there was also of course the chance to watch a load of shows and take advantage of the world’s biggest arts festival.
Two of my Top 3 productions from 2011 – A Clockwork Orange and Translunar Paradise – had returned for another year; the former relocating from C venues to the Pleasance Courtyard. I didn’t see either for the second time because I wanted to spend the cash on new stuff, but I did manage to catch a monologue called Juana In A Million, which shared the same director as Translunar. Normally one-actor shows are a switch-off for me (my attention span is dire), but this one was definitely one of my top picks for 2012. Based on true events, one Mexican woman told the story of her immigration to London; reliving all the funny, moving and downright horrific things that happened to her along the way. With the help of a live soundtrack from a single on-stage musician, her tale was relentlessly riveting and incredibly moving.
Shakespeare For Breakfast was also brilliant, but it couldn’t possibly have been any different to Juana’s tale. Boasting free coffee and croissants, it was a hysterical retelling of Romeo & Juliet, given a modern makeover (NO WAIT COME BACK) and squeezing in pop culture references such as Benvolio as an Essex girl and an inexplicable cameo from ‘Boris Becker’.
My other two 5-star findings were perfect fusions of music and comedy. The Horne Section, led by Alex Horne, blended side-splitting stand-up with hilarious live jazz; and Frisky And Mannish, who I first fell in love with last year, continued to brilliantly parody everything in popular song from stalkery lyrics in Someone Like You to an 80s Dannii Minogue rendition of Somebody That I Used To Know.
Elsewhere, lols were lolled at Sex Ed: The Musical, an original production by a quick-witted group of East 15 students; political sattire was lapped up thanks to new play Coalition (starring Phil Jupitus and Jo Caulfield); and Jane Austen’s work was presented in a whole new light by the cast of Austentatious, every show being a new improvisation of a completely made-up novel.
Of course, there was also a fair amount of cack, but that’s to be expected. Bring on 2013.