Picturebooks, clowns and brain dissection… just another day in Edinburgh

Any day that begins with a special, personalised performance of a delightful children’s tale is already set to be spectacular. And this is what we had on Monday as we popped along to The Incredible Book Eating Boy★★★★. Although billed as kid’s theatre, this five minute chunk of performance is a real treat. Through projection, puppetry and acting, Oliver Jeffers’ story of a boy whose idea of balanced diet is a few Shakespeare plays washed down with an encyclopedia is vividly brought to life. Sitting alone in the inside of a Punch and Judy style booth, you are spoilt by a show performed just for you. After having a rather terrifying experience of one-on-one theatre in recent weeks, it was great to feel so welcome – and the company’s aim to blur the boundaries of performance by making puppet-like actors and actor-like puppets was truly accomplished. At the end of the show, we were lucky enough to catch James Baker, the production’s director, for a quick interview with can be found on our Youtube channel.

After lunch, it was straight to Analogue’s 2401 Objects ★★★★ on NTW’s Creative Associate Matt Ball’s recommendation – and what a good shout! 2401 Objects is a multi-media production, bringing theatre, video and live projection together in the biography of patient H.M., who gave his brain up to medical science to be ‘Google-mapped’. What’s refreshing about Analogue is that they seem indiscriminatingly cross-disciplined, bringing science to the stage in a way I believe is under-done. Their work, therefore, is incredibly layered and intelligent and definitely worth a see.

Next, it was off to the Traverse Theatre to grab a few seconds with the National Theatre Wales staff and check on the warm up for The Dark Philosophers. There’s so much excitement building up around this show right now, which is so good to see. I’ll be talking about this further in tomorrow’s blog post.

Following a remarkable hearty chip supper we headed to 7 Day Drunk ★★★★, a theatrical piece by comedian Bryony Kimmings which seamlessly married cabaret and documentary. The work was based around the idea that creativity can be heightened by drunkenness and followed the artist as she endured a week in an originative hotbed of intoxication. Inviting singletons onto the stage for a slow dance, offering a drink to one girl on the front row and bringing us all together at the end for a rave to the tune of The Knife, Kimmings’ interaction with the audience was spot on.

But despite all her hard work, Kimmings’ efforts to improve my opinion of cabaret were swiftly diminished withVive le Cabaret ★★. Credit must go to the organisers for provided a mixed bag of surprising entertainment (the highlight being a Chinese pole artist who balanced alarming strength with witty culture references) but the way in which these were billed certainly undermined the artists’ messages.  A particularly striking example of this was seen when a song about female body dis-morphia was immediately followed by a sparkly little number by a troupe of young dancers tossing their glossy hair and fluttering their false eyelashes. I can’t say I enjoyed the hour or so spent watching this, but I did learn one thing: Now matter how poor the performance is, an enjoyable show is one that provokes discussion and debate – and I got plenty of this with a far more satisfied Brent who, unlike me, finds enjoyment in watching table-cloths being removed from tables.

The evening finished with a deliciously laid-back gig by The Blues Water Collective at Forest Fringe and a comparatively early night to prepare for the first day of The Dark Philosophers. We’ve got plenty of interviews up our sleeves for today so keep an eye on our YouTube channel. Until then!

first blogged on National Theatre Wales Community

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