Edinburgh reflections 2011: More coverage

After four full days over five days, it was time to bid farewell to Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Fringe (and reviewing for the guys at Whatsonstage.com and The Public Reviews).

Going to the Fringe requires discipline in itself. You need to be able to plan a day of seeing shows, get to each of them in time (and not get lost). And manage to eat and drink something on the way. Sleep is always good too. Adding the requirement to write short and coherrent 200 word review of what you are seen within 24 hours and give it a star rating is really like trying to be too clever for one's own good.

Of course nobody reads the reviews (even the performers in some cases). They only read how many stars it has. And the star system could be quite complicated. Not so in Edinburgh. Arriving here Johnnyfox advised of the tendency for everyone to inflate stars and described it in one of his reviews as "reviewers spunking stars up on the wall in order to be bylined on the posters." Therefore a five-star show would be a four star show anywhere else and so on. So for a show to be one star, it would have to be completely vile.

Stars and reviews aside, the last two days were a chance to see some hilarious comedy such as Dirty Stop-Out's production of When Women Wee and stand up comedy from Jay Cowle and Paul Duncan McGarrity as the Nonsense Duet. The latter was a free fringe event so very cheap laughs indeed.

There were good dramas, including The Mourning Party and the whimsical piece Cutting the Cord. And some great cabaret in the form of Vive Le Cabaret and Brisbane bad boys of burlesque, Briefs.

But it was not all great. Sarah Millican in her show Thoroughly Modern Millican delivered a smirk out loud routine that covered the usual jokes about being bad at sex, being fat and having a stupid boyfriend. The joke was on the audience for having to pay to see a series of comic riffs that did not deliver. Well at least at the end of the evening you could get a badge to take home so you didn't feel completely cheated.

There was also a dreadful act in the form of the Faulty Towers Dining Experience. It has been playing at the Fringe for a few years and for reasons that were not apparent to me has been labelled for some time as an "essential" thing to catch. It was nothing beyond a corporate entertaining novelty act and should stay there.

Still when the reviewing was done there was a chance to sit back and enjoy some fine singing, either in the form of the lovely Segue Sisters or the Oxford Gargoyles. There was also time to catch Colm O'Regan's show Dislike before heading to the airport. Less stand up and more storytelling, it is a likeable presentation on Ireland's financial crisis told through the conventions of Facebook. He seemed surprised so many people arrived. We may have all had the 7.45 flight out of Edinburgh and had some extra time to kill. It was a good choice for all concerned I suspect.

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