Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Stamp Stamp / Seriously

I can see I am going to be struggling to keep the blog in sync with the festival going. I had rather a late night at the Udderbelly, the giant upturned cow seen in yesterday's post...

The rough pattern of my days seems to be: take Bondi into the city late morning for some exploration and to eye the street entertainment, then drop him off back in Leith, freshen up, and then return to the centre for some shows. Edinburgh's old town is laid out like a three dimensional rat-run, and it's helpful to build up a sense of what bridge runs over which street, and the lanes and "wynds"which connect the different levels so that I can get from one venue to another without running late for a show. The twists and turns of these streets are such that if I were a really ambitious festival administrator with a huge budget or some imaginative engineers, I would turn it all into a big Rube Goldberg contraption for the month, a clockwork Christo installation on a grand scale.

The Campbells are Coming!

Bondi seems to be having a lovely time interacting with various street performers and Fringe acts drumming up audiences. The guy on stilts (I think from The Absinthe Monologues) was rather bemused by my instructing Bondi to "fetch the stick ... it's got meat on top". He said that he was a just a "walking kebab" to Bondi.

A puppeteer with a dog on hand was startled when Bondi came up to sniff the dog's bottom.

It's supposed to have burst by now, and my head should be in a lot of pain...

Event #3: Gordon Southern: Stamp Stamp

My only prebooked show today didn't start till 10.30pm, so I grabbed a ticket for Gordon Southern's 9pm show at the Gilded Balloon Teviot. The title is in reference to the stamping of passports this year as Gordon travelled between the UK and Australia, getting married down under in the process. Not a huge audience, but it deserves to build through the month. Gordon's a very funny man and has a mass of material to thread his narrative through, so when he stumbles or has to adapt to the audience reaction, then the result is probably better than a steady script could deliver.

Event #4: Seriously. The Pet Shop Boys Reinterpreted.

When I saw this in the program, I put an asterisk next to it immediately, with the thought "must book this first, it will sell out". Then I saw that the musical director was Dean Lotherington, which meant a) it's an Australian production, and b) I'll get a chance to see Dean for the first time since 1992.

Seriously reworks the Pet Shop Boys' twenty-year oeuvre of dance classics into a sequence of musical dramas. Five seriously talented vocalists, piano, string quartet. I keep leaning towards describing it as chamber rock-opera, except that it's aiming higher than that. It's accessible but you still sit there, coming to terms with each song and its tableau, and then rethinking the arc of the show. I'm definitely going to have to see it again before the end of the month.

Over and above watching the show, and thinking how I'm going to surprise Dean (on piano) afterwards, I'm just getting blown away by all the performers. The only one I recognise, by name, face and recognition is Maria Mercedes, but there's also a guy whose face is naggingly familiar. About 2/3 of the way through the show, I glance at a program sheet, and under the name Michael Howard Smith, I see something about the University of Sydney Band Competition and him studying physiology, and then the light goes on, and I remember that he dated my good friend, and later house mate, Margie, so it must be 20+ years since I've seen him. Someone else to surprise after the show!

Back to the performance and Maria is singing something that is just so nakedly confronting, and just taps into this memory I have of the phone call in the middle of the night when I found my father had died. Just smacks into my head, and I have to wrench myself back into the performance. I must see this show again.

Huge applause. Lights come up. Audience leaves, and I sit around waiting for the cast to return and pack up. Dean's tending to something, and so I just walk over. He looks, looks and jaw drops, rushes over, Mikey! big hug, cannot believe this. We talk a bit, I tell him that I know Michael Smith too, and Dean suggests I join everyone for postshow drinks.

I sit while the packing-up continues ( a necessary evil for the Fringe with multiple shows in each venue ) and then my eyes light on another familiar face. Sean Hingston, who I haven't seen since about the same time I last saw Dean, but who I knew independently from the "Bondi Push" of the early 90s in Sydney. But it's Michael that I get to talk to first, and partner Shannon, and we quickly piece together the last 20years. He's been singing on the London West End; I haven't.

Everyone leaves for the Udderbelly, and crowd around a little table, freezing a little (it's really cold today) chattering, a few of us marvelling how one show brought together three people I knew separately 15-20 years ago. Michael seems to know quite a bunch of people that I hung around with, and it seems weird that we hadn't bumped into each other again before now. Paul Ross, another of the show's singers has been trying to figure out Michael's age, Michael has cagily said "it's debatable" due to paperwork mistakes etc. He overhears that I'm the same age, so he asks me how old I am. "Well, it's debatable....". His face falls. I start on some bullshit about reconciling cosmology and quantum mechanics, which Michael picks up on with a spiel about time dilation and how he took a short cut to get to the present year, and then I say that since I studied physics, was able to take an even shorter path. The conversation meanders a bit, lots of reminiscences, hellos and goodbyes: Sean's back to his USA base tomorrow, the Udderbelly hits its 3am closing, our night comes to an end.

Sean, Michael and Dean

Too tired to even walk to find a night-bus or cab, I caught a pedicycle down to the foot of Leith Walk. I think this'll be a once off. Far too expensive for a single passenger over that distance.

Meanwhile, in Leith...

1 comment:

  1. You are a dream come true and will always be dreamt about in my dreams!

    Cant wait to see you again. I will call over the weekend when I have some Dean time.

    Please keep Monday night free. You have 2 tix waiting for you to see SERIOUSLY again. It's going to be a special night at the theatre *****


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