Like most Edinburgh folk, I love a good Fringe rant. It’s one of life’s pleasures. Getting competitive about how long it takes to get down the Royal Mile (my record is 15 minutes to get from the Old Town Information Centre in St Giles to the Mercat Cross), whinging about the price of drinks in venues that no-one is forcing us to frequent, bitching about how rubbing Greyfriars’ Bobby’s nose is NOT A REAL TRADITION SO DON’T FUCKING DO IT… It’s fun. It’s a bonding experience for those of us who live here all year.
Of course, wherever you find people having fun, you will find people who feel the need to point out why they mustn’t. In this case they manifest as people who will tell us that the Festivals are wonderful and we should be grateful for them. They bring money to Edinburgh, they liven the place up, they are fun! In the words of one such soul on a friend’s Facebook page the other day: “Participate, don’t hate!”
I think I can safely say that I participate. This year alone I’m reviewing, flyering and teching, I’ve got plays on at the Death on the Fringe Cabaret and Village Pub Theatre, and I’m seeing a few things for the sheer giddy hell of it. I’ve got participation covered. But damn it, I love to hate, and I won’t be told not to. So here are a few of the things that are currently arousing my ire, things I am joyfully blowing out of all proportion and will probably have forgotten about come September:
- People who never use social media the rest of the year, but now they’ve got a Fringe show to sell and they’re all “Please RT”. Bonus points if they’ve never retweeted anything of mine.
- Producers who can’t make up their mind whether they’re allowing press in until an hour before the show. Especially if it’s my last show of the day and waiting for them to make a decision is delaying my getting home and into my pyjamas.
- Shows about PTSD (or any other mental health stuff, actually) created by people who have no fucking clue about trauma but think it’s a shortcut to depth and stakes. Bonus points if it’s based on the experiences of someone who didn’t actually give permission for their experiences to be used.
- On a related note, reviews of shows that completely nailed the experience of trauma and dissociation but the reviewer just doesn’t understand what they’re seeing and slags it off. Because obviously people whose experiences and understanding don’t tally with mine are WRONG. Grrr.
- Reviewers who automatically hate monologues and don’t have the attention span for character studies.
- Playwrights AND reviewers using words they don’t actually understand. Long words only make you sound intelligent if you use them correctly.
- Playwrights who don’t bother to do five minutes of googling to find out whether their inciting incident is in any way plausible.
- Publications that disappear behind paywalls then refuse to offer any kind of convenient payment option (looking at you, The Stage).
- Drinks prices in general, but particularly in the bar at C main. Damn it, I used to go there because it was cheap and I could get blackcurrant and lemonade for 80p. Now it’s £1.80 even with discount.
- Young people are being young. Damn them with their energy and their stamina. Also, the technical manager for the venue where I’m operating can’t be more than 23 but she’s wearing stuff I wore first time round in the 90s.
- The trend for live action versions of 80s/90s kids’ TV shows. Though I will admit that Mark and I got quite excited at seeing Dave Benson Phillips in the flesh when we passed him at Gilded Balloon, because he’s aff the telly but from when we were little.
- I still miss Chocolate Soup. I will always miss Chocolate Soup. Yes, I could make my own hot chocolate and put cinnamon and Maltesers in it, but it’s not the same. You will never be forgotten, Chocolate Soup.