19 Aug 2015 at 00:55
Last week I was put on a new diabetes pill and it’s playing havoc with my ability to sleep. It’s not falling asleep that’s the problem, it’s staying asleep. I keep waking up around 4.30am, and then seemingly every ten minutes or so afterwards. It’s also making me very thirsty. Hmmm. Anyway, enough of my medical problems, let me tell you about my thirs day at the Edinburgh Fesitval.
Today started with a visir to the studios of Shore Radio in Leith to be a guest co-host of the Ewan Spence Edinburgh Fringe Show. You can listen to the podcast HERE . We had various guests from the fringe, all plugging their respective shows, and actually, they were all very entertaining, and if my schedule wasn’t already full I’d have booked to to see all three of them. John Robertson was a real character – an Australian with a voice like Brian Blessed. I did smile when I found that that radio studio was part of the Leith Dockers Social Club. If you wonder why I found it so amusing read THIS
By the time I emerged from Ewan’s show it was raining. I had promised myself that I’d walk everywhere between venues but waling from leith bck into the centre of town is two miles and I’m afraid I wimped out and got a cab. The first show of the afternoon was STEVE RICHARDS: ROCK ‘N’ ROLL POLITICS. This is Steve’s second year at the Festival, and he performs his show in London fairly regularly. It was a sell-out, and there’s clearly an appetite for this sort of thing, given yesterday’s Matt Forde/Ruth Davidson event. It’s set me thinking about possibly putting on some sort of show here some time in the future. Anyway, Steve was a bundle of energy and really engaged the audience. He put two dilemmas to the audience and asked them to imagine they were David Cameron trying to decide the date of the EU Referendum, and to imagine they were Nicola Sturgeon deciding whether to include a manifesto promise for a second referendum. One of his aims was clearly to challenge some of the audience’s preconceptions about the decisions politicians make and why they make them. He did it with humour and self-deprecation, even if some of his impressions were dodgier than others!
So from the Assembly Rooms back to the Pleasance for Gyles Brandreth’s new show WORD PLAY. Gyles has become a bit of a festival institution and always pays to sellout audiences. This was vintage Brandreth – at times hilarious, at times slapstick, at times deep and meaningful, at times informative. I wasn’t sure what to expect as the title of the show was a bit ‘Countdownesque’ but Gyles really delivered a tour de force, ostensibly explaining the power of words, but always willing to go off on a very entertaining tangent. The audience loved it. Perhaps the highlight was when he got us all on our feet to march to the lyrics “Leading with our nipples”. Perhaps you had to be there. A definite five stars.
It was now 5pm and the next show was an hour’s stand up comedy from the presenter of Absolute Radio’s Breakfast Show, Christian O’Connell. He’s been presenting the same show for 17 years, which is a feat in itself. He gets up at twelve minutes past four every day. I just couldn’t do that, but he clearly thrives on what he does. He told some hilariously funny anecdotes about things that have gone wrong over the years, but concentrated on the loons who complain and troll him on Twitter. He even keeps a book of them. A lot of it struck home with me. I’ve only met Christian once, and that was on stage at the Arqiva Radio awards when I won Presenter of the Year in 2013. When I’ve seen him present awards ceremonies he comes over as very cocky and pleased with himself. It’s very different to his radio show or indeed the event this evening, where he showed a much more down to earth and human side. I’d definitely recommend anyone to go and see Christian – you’re guaranteed to laugh a lot and you’ll like what he says about free speech.
The final show of the day was AN AUDIENCE WITH JIMMY SAVILE. I’m going to be honest. I nearly didn’t go. Did I really want to spend an hour thinking about this lowlife? In all honesty I did not, but so many people had said it was a brilliant play that I decided to go after all. It was the right decision. Alistair McGowan was utterly brilliant in his depiction of this monster You’d expect him to get the voice right, but had all Savile’s mannerisms off to a tee too. The script was deft, and the four other actors involved all played their roles to perfection. It was a lovely surprise to see Graham Seed playing the chat show host and he carried it off well. The audience sometimes didn’t know whether to clap or laugh, as it almost felt inappropriate. At the end as McGowan departed the stage it felt totally wrong to clap and there was a moment of silence when we just didn’t know what to do. But as soon as the actors came back on stage they got deserved sustained applause. None of the actors smiled. It would have been wrong.
And so Wednesday is my final day. Looking forward to it already.