Edinburgh Diary: The Games effect, funny goings-on in the newsroom, and an outbreak of prudery
Sunday 12 August 2012
Worries that the Olympics would have a deleterious effect on the Fringe have sadly proved correct as preliminary box office figures for the first week show that ticket sales are noticeably down on previous years. But, as the Games end tonight, producers and promoters are hoping that arts fans will be fast out of the blocks for the remaining two weeks of the Fringe.
Rich Peppiatt's One Rogue Reporter at the Pleasance is attracting attention from lawyers, and no wonder. Peppiatt, a former Daily Star reporter, has written a scabrous and highly entertaining show about how tabloid journalists operate. He turned the tables on top people in the industry by doorstepping one famous tabloid editor and questioning a former one, now a broadcaster, about some racy texts that were not to his wife. But the funniest section concerns a senior newspaper executive made famous by the News of the World phone-hacking scandal who did not, in the best Fleet Street tradition, make his excuses and leave when asked to take off his pants at a massage parlour.
Other journalists are finding their inner performer here too. The Guardian's Sarfraz Manzoor is doing a show at the Assembly Rooms about his lifelong love affair (purely musical, you understand) with Bruce Springsteen; Steve Richards (of The Independent) is presenting Rock 'n' Roll Politics, about the inherent absurdity and drama of the genre, at Assembly George Square, while Josh Neicho of the London Evening Standard introduces Josh Neicho and Friends, an evening of words and music, at the Fiddlers Elbow. I hate to break it to you, guys, but there's even less money in performing than in journalism these days, so don't give up the day job.
Going the other way, as it were, is a comic who is now a writer. Launching his debut novel on Friday at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which started yesterday and continues until 27 August, is Russell Kane. As its title, The Humourist, suggests, Kane is keeping it close to home; it's about comedy critic Benjamin Davids White, who is described as having "never cracked a smile in his life". Phew – not guilty, m'lud, but I can think of a few of my tribe who might fit the bill.
What jolly larks at Underbelly, which is experiencing an invasion of 40 bright young things from Eton College (with 20 more from St Paul's Girls' School), appearing in four theatre productions at the venue under the collective title of Double Edge Drama. Local wags have suggested the youngsters are given accommodation in Niddrie, an area of Edinburgh that even estate agents call "challenging", just so they can soak up the, er, vibrant atmosphere and go back after the summer hols with tales of keeping it real in Trainspotting style. The boys will feel at home at Underbelly – it was founded and is run by two Old Etonians, Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood, and there are at least a dozen OEs performing around town as actors and comics.
The kerfuffle over posters at Edinburgh airport for a Picasso show at the National Gallery of Modern Art, which showed a nude, and which were covered up after only 10 complaints from passengers, will come as no surprise to anyone who has perused the Fringe brochure. The same kind of prudery means that Stuart Goldsmith's comedy show at the Pleasance is entered as Pr!ck, Charlotte Josephine's fine one-woman play at Underbelly is listed as B*tch Boxer, and Richard Herring is Talking C!ck. Silly b@ggers
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