This week the intrepid Nell Frizzell reports from the madness of the Edinburgh Fringe - and sets IdeasMag readers a unique, Where’s Wally-style challenge…
I write this, sitting in an Abattoir.
Now, before you send out the search dogs, let me explain. This abattoir is less meat and grit, more meet and greet. It is, in fact, the IdeasTap Edinburgh hub – at the Underbelly Abattoir – and it is lovely. It has sofas, free tea and coffee, a little sun terrace and a splendidly well-stocked bar. Oh, and it’s next to a big inflatable purple cow. Of course.
But I don’t just spend my time propping up the members’ bar. That wouldn’t just be grossly unprofessional (if I’m going to be gross, I prefer to do it professionally) it would also be a terrible waste of a prime theatre-watching opportunity. And, as we all know, sometimes the best theatre can be found on the chip-streaked pavements and cider-puddling roads of Scotland.
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of sploshing through Rebus country let me paint you a picture. Edinburgh is a child’s drawing of Batman city, sliding down an enormous set of hills, covered in beautiful madmen. The lunatics are fairly easy to spot; they’re the ones in full corpse makeup, standing in the rain, thrusting culture into the hands of passersby. They are, for the 12 of you who haven’t already guessed, flyerers.
Flyering is big business in Edinburgh. Not big business in the sense of a collective occupation that earns a lot of money. It is big business in the way that Dickensian workhouses were big business with punishingly long hours, no breaks, freezing conditions, ragged clothes and an apparently endless workload.
Yesterday I met a young, blue-eyed sprite who had been in costume, wandering the streets, since 8am and wasn’t set to finish until midnight, four hours after her final curtain. It was like finding Tinkerbell in the cut-price sherry section of a suburban Spar. Meanwhile, one comedian on Twitter has adopted the tactic of desperately bribing people on the Royal Mile with a 1 flyer = 1 wine gum exchange rate.
During a particularly drizzled walk to Boots I found two east Asian men in shell suits and full clown make up standing in a dark and rain-soaked alleyway, quietly smoking cigarettes and staring at their shoes. So miserable, lacklustre and hopeless was their approach that I all but begged them to let me come and see their show. In the land of high-energy flyering, sometimes the nicotine-stained depressive can be king.
Of course, some people aren’t promoting a show at all. This whirling, smudging, clucking, shouting little exhibition is their show. Yes, all of it. Apparently, dressing up as a dreadlocked William Wallace in Ugg boots and woolly skirt is enough to earn you a day’s wage in this town. Someone should tell Britney.
So, in true IdeasTap tradition, I’ve decided that if you can’t beat, fund or inspire them, you might as well join them. So, if you see a theatre editor running around Bristo Square tomorrow, dressed in an eight-year-old boy’s gold C3PO suit then for heck’s sake take a photo.
Bring that photo to the IdeasTap hub, show it to an IdeasTap staff member and we will buy you a bacon sandwich.
Now that’s what I call a deal.
To find out more about what we're up to in Edinburgh, the shows we love and how you can come and meet us, go to ideastap.com/Edinburgh
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