The Edinburgh Fringe: A Retrospect

Comedy

Having performed at the fringe since 2003 and having won the Edinburgh Fringe Award in 2009 for his solo poetry show Slutcracker, Tim Key is by no means a newcomer. Yet, he still manages to remain exciting, original, and refreshingly absurd. Key’s 2011 show, Masterslut at Pleasance Dome, featured his usual dead-pan poetry in addition to tangential stories and the surrealist use of a bath and a projector.  He’s a comedian that never disappoints.

Ben Target should be an advertisement for the free fringe – you have to endure masses of comedy that couldn’t even be described as close to second rate, but it’s worth it just for that occasional spark of brilliance, such as Ben Target. Equipped with a superb sense of timing, Target makes excellent use of props and his exit from his show  – involving a whip, paint and a bike – was probably the most original, the most over-wrought and most audacious to be seen at the Fringe.

Eating

Scotland, as one comedian at the fringe suggested, is more afraid of fruit and vegetables than the Australian Border control. There is no greater testament to this apparent abhorrence to the five a day regime than the Pie Maker on South Bridge. Comforting, without pretensions and bulging with wholesome fillings, a pie from Pie Maker is the perfect antidote to a rainy Scottish day. The lasagne pie and the tattidog are a must.

If you’re looking for a slightly healthier option, though a slightly pricier one, Elephant and Bagel offer the most copious and varied selection of bagels in Edinburgh. Open from 8.00am till 11.00pm, seven days a week, Elephant and Bagel is the perfect haunt for the time that needs killing between productions and just before late night shows. It also has a significant claim to fame, J.K. Rowling wrote much of her early novels there, and Ian Rankin often used to visit it.

Drinking

Undoubtedly doubtedly one of the best pubs in Edinburgh, and a little-known local secret, The Brass Monkey is best summed up in one word as ‘unique’. The warm, welcoming front-half of the pub gives way to a sumptuous second-half furnished with bed-cum-sofa seating. These giant chaise-lounges (as they can only be described) allow you to recline and soak up the innumerable vintage film posters that adorn the walls. Its house Scotch is affordable, and for fans of Germany’s famous wheat beer, The Brass Monkey must be one of the very few places in the UK to have Weihenstephan on tap.

To top it all off

Arthur’s Seat – a name apparently derived from the legend of King Arthur – currently finds itself as the centrepiece landscape in the film One Day. Often there is a need to find a short respite from the intensity and the energy of the fringe; about a mile to the east of Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat is conveniently situated for this. Only a short walk from the centre, and as the main peak of Holyrood park, Arthur’s Seat offers the most stunning views of what must be one of the most beautiful cities in Britain.

 

Alexander Blanchard

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