Observations: A glittering extreme makeover (with added Jamie Oliver) for a Fringe favourite
Saturday 28 July 2012
Tommy Sheppard, director of the new Assembly Rooms Edinburgh Fringe programme, proudly opens the door to a large ballroom decorated with an imposing crystal chandelier and some stunning, freshly painted cornices.
This, he explains, is “the wee big room” result of an 18-month, £9.3m redevelopment of one of Edinburgh's best-loved Fringe venues. The “big big room”, he'll go on to demonstrate, is an even larger hall with movable seating whose roster next month will include Stewart Lee, Jerry Sadowitz and the National Theatre of Scotland's Appointment with the Wicker Man, among others.
The refurbishment was the subject of concern from festival enthusiasts when it was first announced in 2010, with the lower floor's conversion into retail units (including a Jamie Oliver restaurant where the much-loved Fringe press bar used to be) appearing to affirm the surrounding George Street's commercial trample over the grimily ad-hoc soul of the Fringe. In practice, however, the newly opened building allays such fears. Despite a sleek new entranceway which resembles an upmarket hotel reception rather than a theatre foyer, the four performance areas upstairs will offer a substantial programme in state-of-the-art surroundings over the next month.
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
Best underrated Christmas movies from Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food