Edinburgh Festival Diary: 29/08/10

Veronica Lee
Sunday 29 August 2010 00:00
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'Caledonia', Alistair Beaton's play about Scotland's failed 17th-century colony in Panama, as directed by Anthony Neilson for the National Theatre of Scotland, was presented as the International Festival's highlight, but critics (including our own Kate Bassett) have deemed it a dud.

The play's journey from page to stage has been almost as tragic as the subject, with insiders suggesting that the writer and director had major differences of opinion about its staging; indeed Beaton has wryly described his relationship with Neilson as "very interesting". He didn't attend the premiere and issued a statement saying: "I went back to London ... I leave the world to interpret that as they will."

Comic Leisa Rea, whose Pension Plan is a very amusing but at times rather dark autobiographical show, apologises to the poor soul who found the Tupperware box she mislaid at the Gilded Balloon a few days ago, filled as it was with foetus-shaped biscuits. They're hand-made by Rea and are the pay-off for a rather neat joke in her show. But, I know you're dying to ask, where did she buy the necessary cookie cutters? Like so much else that one simply can't live without in modern life, Rea found them online at an American website – not Martha Stewart's, I hasten to add.

Those amazing silver-painted human statues who block your path along the Royal Mile! Those oh-so amusing mime artists who follow you along it! Those attractive young men juggling their balls (inset below)! Thanks to Edinburgh City Council, there will be many, many more of these individuals – who are really not annoying at all – as it plans to designate more street-performance sites during next year's festival. You have been warned...

Stand-up Mark Nelson was disconcerted when a woman in the front row at the Underbelly sat stony-faced through his show (it's actually rather good), who, it transpired, is a member of the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards judging panel. Doesn't she know the golden rule – no critics, no judges, and absolutely no note-taking in the front row? Very bad form.

A disgruntled punter at the Cow Barn, who perhaps should have been wearing a dirty raincoat, was heard muttering about asking for his money back when he left Lovelace: A Rock Musical (a sympathetic portrait of Linda Lovelace, star of 1970s porn movie Deep Throat). Clearly he thought he was going into another kind of show entirely, but there's no sex or nudity on stage – and absolutely not that scene, even simulated. Edinburgh is a Presbyterian city, after all.

That keen theatre fan may want to pop into Alexis Dubus's A Surprisingly Tasteful Show About Nudity at the Tron – at one performance a pair of nubile naturists took the title literally and stripped off before they took their seats. I'm wrong: clearly Edinburgh is a broad church – which is why I'll miss it so as I sign off for another year.

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