Edinburgh Festival Diary: 08/08/10

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The Independent Culture

At the Gilded Balloon, the creators of Could It Be Forever? – a comedy drama about a group of David Cassidy fans who meet up for the first time since they were teenagers in 1973 – were chuffed to receive an email from the popster saying it was "an honour" to be the subject of their play.

He asked for some show posters (not to paper his walls – that would just be weird) to sign and sell for charity. Now the two writers, Lucie Fitchett and Victoria Willing (the latter, incidentally, is the daughter of the artist Paula Rego), have invited Cassidy to come and see the show. Ladies of a certain age are already blushing at the thought.

Caroline Rhea who stars in Sabrina, the Teenage Witch on American television and is making her stand-up debut in the UK, was keen to get her bearings when she arrived at Gilded Balloon, her venue. Was it directions to the historic Edinburgh Castle, the royal residence of Holyroodhouse, or maybe one of the many fine museums in the Athens of the North that she needed? No. "Just tell me where Harvey Nichols is!" was her urgent request.

It's a year for anniversaries on the Fringe. The Edinburgh Comedy Awards (previously the Perrier Comedy Awards) are celebrating 30 years, as is Assembly, while Gilded Balloon is a mere stripling at 25 and The Stand is the baby of the group at 15. Producers have been indulging in one-upmanship in their press-launch speeches, with Assembly claiming to have launched the careers of, among others, Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson, while ECA claims Frank Skinner, and The Gilded Balloon lists Dara O Briain and Bill Bailey. I note, however, that none is claiming responsibility for the hundreds of duff performers they have inflicted upon us over the years.

Paul Sinha, a comic of Asian origin who is appearing at The Stand, describes how he plans to forge a career at the BBC: "Put on a few pounds, wear a pink turban and speak with a Glasgow accent. Oh, and get gropy hands." What can he mean?

Fringe regulars and residents who stoically put up with major disruption along Princes Street during last year's festival when new tramlines were being laid, are amazed that they are now lying idle. The controversial and expensive scheme – £600m and counting – has hit the buffers in a dispute between the city council and the contractors. It's a temporary blip, says the council; permanent, say locals in the know, who suggest the much delayed opening date of 2013 is but wishful thinking.

Doc Brown former rapper now a comic, hoped his big sister, the novelist Zadie Smith, would be able to rap with him at the Fringe, as she did recently at a literary festival. But Smith lives in New York, so we will have to make do with Brown – my tip to be Fringe 2010's breakout act – and his outstanding show at the Pleasance, a mixture of storytelling and spoof raps about his years in hip hop.