Powder Puff

We’re well into the second half of the 2016 Edinburgh Festival and Fringe. When apoplectic.me isn’t counting its existence in major international soccer tournaments, it’s counting it in Festivals (2013, 2014, 2015).

"Get the gimp"
2016: Mrs Stroke Bloke loves owls. In a very particular way.

The beginning of the Fringe is always a bit of a whirl. I’m doing reviews and interviews during preview week and the first week proper. For the second half of the month, it’s more a case of hanging on and getting through to the end.

[If you hang on and get to the end of this post, there’s the Apoplexy Tiny Letter, too.]

Those first weeks are particular fun, because I’m going to see shows that wouldn’t necessarily cross my radar among the millions of pings that populate Auld Reekie in August.

Sniffin' Glue and Other Rock 'N' Roll Habits... – Thanks, The Ramones!
Air Traffic Controller Ricky prepares for 2016 FringeGIFSoup

If you’re an Edinburgher looking for stuff to see, or an out-of-towner looking for a flavour of Festival City, check out a few of my reviews and interviews at The Edinburgh Reporter:

  1. McCleary & Blair Panda to the Audience – interview
  2. Dandy Darkly’s Myth Mouth – review
  3. No Horizon – interview, review
  4. Capt. Flinn & The Magic Dinosaurs – interview
  5. A Tale of Two Cities: Blood for Blood – interview, review
  6. Poena 5X1 – review
  7. Mr Incredible – interview, review
  8. Blush – interview, review
  9. The Hogwallops – interview
  10. Ambition – interview
Stroke Bloke – The Butcher of Bruntsfield
“Broadway production values at the Fringe – and that’s just the reviews!” – Frank Rich

Going to see stuff that I wouldn’t go to otherwise, with an open mind, feels like it fits with the ethos of apoplectic.me. Then in the second half of the month I can indulge my own tastes, as well as enjoying the Book Festival.

This year, that has included seeing Henry Rollins in spoken word mode (as trailed in last week’s post), Alan Cumming Singing Sappy Songs, and – notwithstanding that I reviewed the show – Dandy Darkly’s Myth Mouth.

Joining the parade of middle-aged, vegetarian hotties on the Edinburgh performing circuit – Hi, Mom!!!
Alan Cumming playing the love child of Henry Rollins and Dandy Darkly – who knew?!

While I just sat back and enjoyed these shows as a fan, I’m looking back now and thinking about what made these shows work for me, and what they might suggest for a successful storytelling or spoken word performance. Henry Rollins hit the heights when he spoke about his encounters with The Ramones, David Bowie and Lemmy, and his enthusiasm and fandom shone through.

Dandy Darkly engaged most when he spoke to the audience most directly, and then again when the layers and deep thought behind his show unpeeled and revealed themselves.

Lovely, thanks.
Can you hear me at the back?!

Alan Cumming’s show had the hook of the icon revealed, right down to the story of the regretted tattoo being removed and the feeling of the ink being exploded by laser under the skin of his groin. It’s a trick he learned, he told us, from Liza Minnelli when she was doing a show of songs and personal reminiscences in New York City.

Always tell the truth.

Liza told Alan the story of how her mother, Judy Garland, and godmother Kay Thompson (the creator of the Eloise books) had come to see her very first performance, at camp. When Liza brought the show to London, she brought the story with her. The Telegraph‘s critic, Helen Brown, relates it in this review:

Thompson was the strong and eccentric lady who swabbed Garland’s tears with a powder puff when she first saw her daughter perform.

Student halls have improved since my day
Eloise does the Fringe

Liza told her audiences the story of how she kept the puff,  and when Cumming was looking for tips for his show, he and a friend visited with Minnelli and were a-quiver about the possibility of seeing this legendary object.

“Oh, there’s no puff,” Liza told them. “I made it all up!”

“But I really do have vertigo” via GIPHY

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