Friday, September 02, 2016

Edinburgh Festivals 2016

2 September 2016

We had a great week in Edinburgh where we saw a total of 26 shows in the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. A week at the Edinburgh Festivals always serves as a cultural top-up for the year. There is so much to do that you don’t really have the opportunity to reflect on it until you get home – but then what you’ve seen acts a spur to further investigation and cultural exploration.

Since I got back from Edinburgh I’ve been reading some of the witty, dark short stories of Saki – the pen name of the author Hector Hugh Munro who died in the trenches in the First World War and was the subject of the excellent new play ‘Life According to Saki’ by Katherine Rundell which we saw performed by Atticist at C venue. I’ve been re-listening to one of my favourite albums – Michelle Shocked’s 1989 rock & roll/Big Band masterpiece ‘Captain Swing’ – which it was a genuine thrill to discover she was performing in its entirety at the New Town Theatre.

I’m looking forward to reading Meg Rosoff’s first novel for adults ‘Jonathan Unleashed’, which we saw her discussing at the Book Festival. I’ve set a reminder for the broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Thursday 15 September of the stunning concert by the Russian National Orchestra that we saw at the Usher Hall – featuring Kirill Karabits conducting Scriabin’s triumphant ‘Symphony No 2’. And I’ve been inspired to start practising Shostakovich’s ‘Symphony No 5’, which I am due to perform with Northampton Symphony Orchestra in November, after seeing an amazing performance of the piece by the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop.

Other highlights from our Edinburgh week included brilliantly bizarre stand-up from Simon Munnery, a fascinating lecture from Melvyn Bragg on the Peasants’ Revolt and a return visit to the surreal world of Kenny Young and The Eggplants (‘Eggplantis’).

Two of the best shows we saw this year shared a similar format – plays featuring solo performers using a mixture of poetry, spoken word, storytelling, songs and physical theatre. Tom Gill’s ‘Growing Pains’ and Lotte Rice’s ‘Exactly Like You’ (both at Underbelly) were both bravura performances by young rising stars.

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