Edinburgh Fringe – Gail Bishop and the Sudden Lack of Accommodation

11.45am
This has not gone well.

In spite of booking (and paying for) accommodation in February, I found out with less than 24 hours notice (3pm yesterday) that hotels.com had failed miserably to pass my booking onto the place I was supposed to be staying. Cue much stress and many emails, phone calls… and a few tears. The theatrical adventure I’ve been looking forward to for months has started off in a distressing fashion and this has somewhat marred what should’ve been an exciting trip to bonny Scotland.

But I have done what and self-respecting Brit would do: I have had a cup of tea (and a grumble on Twitter). There is not a lot else I can do until I arrive in Edinburgh.

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3.15pm
After some serious adulting and a 20 minute phone call to Hotels.com in America (in which I used my stern “I’m not shouting at you – yet.” voice and terrified a foreign man), I have a room. It’s the one I was supposed to have in the first place. A self-contained room in Student Halls with a bed, a kitchenette and en-suite, a 5 minute walk from the Pleasance. As promised, they’ve laid on bedsheets, towels and a few basic kitchen bits – so it’s like lo-fi self-catering.

The cock up did sadly cause me to miss This Will End Badly starring Ben Whybrow (Punchdrunk alumni), a one-man tragicomedy exploring the dark heart of modern man. I will try to squeeze this in later in the week.

The great thing about reviewing for Bargain Theatre is it’s taking me to see things I might not otherwise have booked. We Can Make You Happy a perky cabaret about happiness and existentialism.

My highlight of the day was Bryony Kimmings Fake It ‘Til You Make It a brave, honest look at mens mental health. Funny, poignant and moving, it charts the true story of her relationship with her fiancé, Tim, who has clinical depression, and how they are managing it together. Tim is in the show too, which is what makes this truly personal and lays the issue bare from first-hand experience. Often shows that visualise their metaphors risk straying into cliché, but these were understated and haunting. After a long, emotional day, this was very cathartic and really struck a chord.

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This was followed by some light relief. And DEATH. John Robertson – The Dark Room: Symphony of a Floating Head harks back to those primitive 1980s text-based computer games where you “awake to find yourself in a dark room” and your mission is to escape. Complete with black leather sci-fi costume and matching graphics, Robertson stalks the stage, mercilessly taunting the audience with ridiculous options such as “find light switch”, “Czech pockets” and “tripe”. But ultimately, all choices lead to DEATH. Macabre feel-good silliness.

The night ended with the misleadingly described Comfort Slaves. Anyone expecting “Our culture and society is becoming, anaesthetised, dumbed down and depressed but we need to wake up.” may find themselves rather bewildered by a series of disparate scenes of a traumatic nature. Shock factor is high, and some in the audience weren’t ready for the brutally graphic content. It takes a while for it to make sense, but it presents some interesting juxtapositions of what modern society finds offensive, and asks some very pertinent questions. They’re working on getting a much-needed content warning on the website.

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