Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Two remarkable things happened to me whilst sitting in amongst festival show audiences this year.

The first occurred during the EIF. The most marvellous piece of theatre from Guillermo Calderon (and its a measure of how good I found it that I can still remember the chap's name two weeks on!) A double bill. Villa + Discurso. Taking place at The Hub on a Monday evening.

That I got there at all was pretty lucky. I'd darted away from work to go an Edinburgh International Marketing Festival (never heard of it? Funny, that.) event at George Square and wasn't quite sure how this would pan out. I could easily have got trapped and not been able to sneak away in time to make the unnecessary to my future prospects and wellbeing (unlike my day job) EIF show. But the time ticked past, the window before The Show shrank and I Slunk. Got to The Hub with not many minutes to spare. Shot into a spare seat on the front row (terrible eyesight so an increasingly urgent habit) and took a breath.

And realised Mark Fisher was sat to one side of me, chatting chatting to his companion. And an elegant looking couple were sat to my left.

Full of residual fringe chatty chatter to strangers, I greeted - to kill the time twixt now and the show start - the couple next to me with a cheerfully tempting: "so what have you seen so far that you liked?" "In the International Festival?" he responded. This was immediately disappointing to me as I'd seen almost noEIFthing but I went with it. Well, they'd seen Watt and found it interesting though short and over-priced. And they'd seen a bunch of music things which mostly swooped over my head and anyway, took place during the working day so that ruled me out of even thinking about seeing them. What about me, they kindly said? I spoke of the two dance shows I'd seen by that point. We discussed the 'visceral' Macbeth, I expect I spoke pretentiously of the 4:48 produced by the same company a few years previously. And we petered out a bit.

The time slipped past but still minutes before the show. "And what about the Fringe?" I asked over-eagerly as they tried to consult their programmes. Well, they said, not so much so far. Could I recommend anything? Is the Pope the owner of a giant palace full of riches? I launched into edited highlights, suited (to my mind) to the sorts of things I felt they might like based on our preliminary conversation. Translunar Paradise featured heavily. The man obligingly wrote the show name down in his programme as a prompt / to get the lunatic incessant chatterer off his case.

"Oh but we did see one thing in the Fringe, actually, that was really good. You should try and catch that. Oh but we think it's finished..." They turn to each other to reach a consensus in that consultative way of the truly in love. "Yes, it's finished." "What was it called..?" I ask, gently, respectfully, eager to know of this missed masterpiece. "Well, it was on at - a Scots Club? I think it was called..." "Yes, the Royal Scots Club" prompts the lady wife. "Oh," quoth I, taking care to keep my face deadpan, "what was that then?" (Bear in mind the date was two Mondays after our little show had finished so the whole of Proof and Little Voice and the ongoing war poetry along with the tango show were all plumply populating the RSC programme at this point.) "It was called... now it had quite a title...What was it now?" "Forgive Us!" cried the clever lady. "Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us?" Well now knock me down with a bit of marabou feather. What could I say? "Well!" I trilled, at eight times the appropriate volume, "that's a coincidence! I directed that!"

"Oh" said the couple, "oh, it was very good." I simpered and preened momentarily and then choked it back down and asked more sensibly how they'd come to see it. "Oh well we know one of the cast" say they. Of course they did. And having randomly assumed they must know Patrick, it turned out in fact that they were friends and indeed neighbours of Dad. And so cue the usual back slappy conversation about (insert actor's name)'s wonderful talents and unrecognised potential and general all-round brilliance.

Until. "Claire! I didn't realise it was you until you introduced yourself. How are things? How was your show?" Mark Fisher. At which point I simpered and bridled like a show pony in Vienna.

Luckily the bubble of love encasing us first row luvvies was popped like a poppity pop pop thing by the fact that four weeks on, I was still coughing like a bastard from the tailend of what I presumed to be a cold but I concede, new boss may have been right, maybe I did like a nutter have bronchitis. And I coughed my way resiliently barkingly noisily all the way through the first of the one act plays. That should have been full of poignant moments of heart-stopping awe at the bravery shown by these three trapped in and trying to come to terms with an oppressive regime women.

Lovely Lady next to me, my new best friend only forty minutes before, sighed in exasperation as coughety cough cough punctured the heart-rending poignant pause for the nth time. So I couldn't speak to anyone in the interval for shame.

But my throat had calmed (and maybe I had a little sleep) for the second play, Discurso so the audience had a quieter time of it. And the friendships were restored at the close of the play. To the extent that New Best Friend suggested - as previously here referenced - that I might consider directing the second (sleepy) piece as my next directorial outing.

man I miss the fringe. (And the EIF a bit too.)

The other remarkable thing I don't think I can write about here. I'll have to leave you guessing. Like the best unpunctured by coughety cough coughs soap operas.

Discurso interrumpido.


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