Thursday, 30 May 2013

Fringe programme 2013 has arrived

It's always exciting to receive the Edinburgh Fringe programme through the door, and this year it seems to have arrived earlier than ever. (Tickets for many shows, ours included, having gone on sale even earlier).

When I received my very first programme (in 1984, I've referred to it nostalgically before now, here) it was a mind-blowing selection of entertainments, the like of which I had not even bothered to imagine. The '84 prog's 72 pages saw Theatre dominating (40% of listings), with Comedy taking up 9%, and Music, Revue and Cabaret adding up to 16% (though if you added the Folk/Ceilidh listings, the Rock/Jazz/Blues listings, the Recital/Vocal listings and the Orchestral/Chamber listings, then in 1984 music amounted to a third of the entertainment on offer at Edinburgh.)

In 2013 the programme is (have a quick guess, allow for inflation, then double the figure you were thinking of...) 392 pages thick. In just under 30 years the Fringe has quin-and-a-half-tupled in size. Just how mind-blowing that must be to someone encountering it for the first time I won't waste time imagining. (2012's prog was 378 pages long, and, since I find it here in front of me, I can report that 2001's was 176 pages. Someone ought to draw a graph).

And comedy's domination of the Fringe has risen once more. In 2012 Comedy took up 36% of listings to Theatre's 28%, in 2013 it's 40% Comedy to 26% Theatre. Let's keep going guys, and we'll have Fringe Theatre dead and buried by 2020.

Far too many shows to have properly read let alone digested yet, so here are some of my first impressions.

Titles that made me laugh: Now That's What I... Carl Donnelly, If Joe Lycett Then You Should Have Put A Ring On It, and Stewart Lee's Much A-Stew About Nothing (which, when you see it, will make you smile too).

Best deliberate bit of layout in the programme - an entire page of Comedy listings where every act's name is Chris. I mean, minus points for alphabeticising by first names, but big plus points for making this coincidence extra-noticeable by the strategic exclusion of display ads.

Best use of ad money: Gareth Morinan, who lists his show 11 times in a row, explaining "These 11 two day listings cost £880. One page of the programme can fit 12 listings. A quarter page ad costs £1200. You do the maths." Best use of a Fringe listing since Malcolm Hardee decided to name his show "Aaaaaargh..." so as to appear first in the programme. This year 8 shows have tried that.

Parody ads - These are a staple of the Fringe programme, making your cripplingly-priced quarter page ad hit home by modelling it on a familiar movie poster. This year Newsrevue, who pretty well invented this meme, are struggling with only the Star Trek poster to copy (thin pickings on the recent movie poster front, a far cry from those years when everybody did Trainspotting and The Usual Suspects). Best ones this year; Shirley & Shirley (Attack of 50ft Woman), Paul Zerdin (Ted), Paco Erhard (Django Unchained), and The Real MacGuffns (Gilbert & George, classy)

Best makeover: Tie between Andrew Lawrence and Gary Delaney who've both decided to remember they're quite handsome after previous years adverts conspired to scare people away.

Most exciting looking new venue: New Town Theatre. I have never come across this venue before, but they've arrived with a splash including a new John Godber play and an impressive line up of stuff. along with a well designed brand for the venue (putting to shame the Pleasance's logo which is an unreadable postage stamp of a thing).

Best simple photo idea that I've not seen done for a while: Alex Horne Lies. (Who can remind me where I've seen it before? Whatever, AH owns it)

We decided against a display ad, for the second year running, so we couldn't join in with most of these reindeer games. Let's see how it all pans out on the day. Let Fringe battle commence.

SOCKS ON TOUR - Your next chance to see the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre

May 25, 26 - Inverness Happy-Ness Festival
May 29 - Theatr Mwdlan, Cardigan
May 31 - Exchange Arts, Keighley
June 1 - Junction, Goole
June 2 - Barnsley Civic
June 8 - Warwick Arts Centre
June 25 - Leicester Square Theatre, London
June 27 - Victoria Theatre, Halifax
June 28 - Wardrobe Theatre, Bristol
July 2, July 9 - Leicester Square Theatre, London
July 5 - The Lord Nelson, Norton Sub Hamden, Somerset
July 13 - Chapter Arts, Cardiff Comedy Festival
July 14 - Sheffield, New Barrack Tavern 2pm
July 17 - Bristol Comedy Box at the Hen & Chickens
July 18 - Larmer Tree Festival, Salisbury
July 20 - Bedford Fringe
July 21 - Derby Funhouse 3.25pm
+ Mimetic Festival, Enfield 8.30pm
July 22 - Clowns Pocket, Neath
July 26 - Lass O'Gowrie, Manchester
July 31 - Aug 25 - Gilded Balloon, 10.15pm, Edinburgh Fringe
Sept 4 - Belfast Black Box
Sept 5 - Derry Waterside
Sept 21 - Braintree Arts Theatre
Oct 5 - Farnham Maltings
Oct 11 - Old Joint Stock Theatre, Birmingham
Oct 24 - The Capitol, Horsham
Oct 25 - Tom Thumb Theatre, Margate
Oct 26 - Canterbury Festival
Nov 2 - Leeds Carriageworks
Nov 15 - Ropewalk, Barton On Humber
Nov 16 - Chorley Little Theatre

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