Edinburgh Fringe 09: Further Adventures

musicOMH is properly in the swing of all things Edinburgh. We have received our first flyer from someone dressed as a zombie. We suspect this will not be the last.

We have even seen some theatre: Glyn Cannon’s Coffee at the Pleasance Courtyard (13.15), is a short, smart play about three advertising execs trying to shake from their brains a campaign for Donkey Coffee Company. Cannon’s writing takes some pleasing detours into the absurd and has a lovely rattling, rhythm. The cast capture the inanity of such ‘creative’ brainstorming perfectly and manage to encapsulate certain recognisable media types without resorting to outright caricature. It’s an amusing, if slight, piece probably not best served by the lunchtime slot – and I think they missed a trick by not handing out cups of coffee to the audience.

A bit later on I saw Janis at the Gilded Balloon (17.30), a play about the life of the iconic Janis Joplin. Set in the Landmark Motor Hotel where Joplin would OD at the age of 27, it’s a one woman show written by and starring Nicola Haydn as Joplin. The play itself is pretty stiff and conventional; Joplin sits alone and high, recounting her life, recalling her childhood in Port Arthur, Texas and describing her deep need to escape from a world where she never fitted in. Haydn captures her exterior toughness and inner vulnerabilities. It’s a rich, interesting performance that rises some way above the rather run-of-the-mill material. Through Haydn we grasp Joplin’s dogged insistence on living for the now and raising a finger to everything else; her deep belief that each new band, each attempt to get herself clean, will be the one that works for her; and while Haydn can replicate Joplin’s trademark cackle, she really inhabits the role rather than just doing a good impersonation.

I ended the evening with Bourgeois and Maurice’s new show, Social Work, at the Pleasance Courtyard (21.45), a black, bitter cabaret type thing from a duo who are as epically-eyelashed as they are acid-tongued. Their songs, about fame and obession and a medicated age, are accompanied by a series of amusing projections and their outfits mainly revolve around lamé, Lycra and leather. Their material clearly wasn’t to everyone’s liking (there were a couple of walk-outs), but I rather enjoyed sitting in a sweaty Edinburgh attic room as a man in red glitter lederhosen bellowed “you are not important” at the audience through a loud-hailer. It was very, very funny in places, if at times a bit too scatological for my tastes, but there’s something very appealing about the pair’s hungry demon smiles and their swipes at modern life. Great voices too.

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