Happy hump day, Azuka friends & family. (Do people still say that?) It’s with great bittersweetness that I present the final chapter of Kevin’s journey across the pond. The massive Edinburgh Fringe ended last week, but there’s still a buzz in the air about it -- after all, the best art always has a way of sticking with people long after it’s done. It has been a privilege being the one to frame these exciting excerpts of an adventurous journey! So, without further ado...Kevin?
"So I left beautiful sunny Italy and arrived in Scotland to a cold rain and 58 degrees. Hmm…may have made a mistake here. But no, it’s FRINGE who cares about the weather!
Edinburgh Fringe is unlike any other arts festival I’ve ever experienced. There’s a theory that says that the population of Edinburgh DOUBLES every August and I believe it. What’s unique about the Festival here is that it takes over the entire city; it’s not relegated to one or two neighborhoods. Everyone in town knows the Festival is happening! There are posters and banners everywhere, you can pick up a guide book anywhere -- and then there are the ubiquitous postcard hawkers; you can’t get ten feet in Edinburgh without someone trying to hand you a postcard for their show.
As you may know, there is an Official Edinburgh International Festival and then the Festival Fringe. The official one is adjudicated and I’m guessing pretty heavily financed by the city, the state, etc. The Fringe is typical fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants theater! While I was here I saw only one EIF show, a beautiful dance piece called Autobiography by Company Wayne McGregor. Then I saw roughly 12 Fringe shows and like any Fringe Festival ‘you buy your tickets… you takes your chances’. Here are my highlights:
Drunk Lion- Philly’s own Chris Davis has been taking shows to the Edinburgh Fringe for five years, starting off with this one. I can’t believe I’ve never caught this show in Philadelphia, but I’m thrilled I got to see it here. It’s funny, smart, charming, and beautifully performed.
Daughter- This one-man show from Canada’s Pandemic Theater is an extraordinary monologue performed by Adam Lazarus that takes you through his journey into manhood and his struggles as a dad; he touches on love, lust, violence, and more. He’s very funny and charming, until he isn’t. The piece takes a very dark turn, which is when I realized it wasn’t strictly autobiographical. This examination of toxic masculinity was remarkably impactful, forcing me to look at my own assumptions about how men walk through the world. It was also one of the best talk-backs I’ve ever attended with some remarkable observations coming from both creators and audience.
East Belfast Boy- This show knocked me out! A one-man show (it seems all anyone can bring to the Edinburgh Fringe are one person shows) about a working class young man from Belfast and how he’s making it through the world. Ryan McParland gives an astounding performance as Davy -- literally one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. I loved the show so much I went back to see it again the next night (I can count on one hand the number of productions that I’ve not worked on that I’ve seen more than once). The character is a DJ and the sound design was amazing; the sound really became his scene partner in some moments. I actually got the chance to buy Ryan a beer and hear a bit about how the show came to be. The playwright, Fintan Brady, interviewed dozens of young men in this economically depressed neighborhood in Northern Ireland and created a composite character based on those interviews. The producing company, Prime Cut Productions in Belfast, is hoping to bring the show to the US, so keep your eyes peeled…you may be seeing this powerhouse performance in Philly soon!”
Fantastic! As always, thank you Kevin. Now, while it’s a shame that Kevin’s adventure is over, his return to the states also rings in the start of the Azuka season! That's where the bitter becomes sweet. (Pay What You Decide reservations now available for the entire season on this site! The one you’re on right now!) And while I usually end these posts with my second bookend...I thought it only fitting I’d give this last one over to Kevin. Kevin, take us out!
“I’m off to Ireland to visit family, then it’s back to Philly. If you’ve been reading these, thanks for following my adventures; I hope they’ve been entertaining. Looking forward to seeing all my Philly folks soon!”
- Kevin (& Lucas)