Saturday, 30 July 2022

Socks Eurovision Edinburgh Previews - a summary

This year’s Edinburgh show has had a thorough road testing, demonstrating more than any year I can remember how variable audiences can be. In essence, if the audience are with you from the start, you come away thinking you’ve got a perfect show, and if they’re a bit more of a challenge, you come away doubting yourself. This must be what every show goes through.

Eurovision Sock Contest is different from our previous shows, being a string of new musical numbers, connected by sketches, in the format of a song contest where the audience vote for the winner. 

In previous years we have tended to have a developing story of sorts, culminating in, usually, the Socks falling out then reuniting for the finale. This format was established with our debut in 2007 (we sang Close To You, then reunited for Romeo & Juliet), and has included such “break up” songs as 2008’s All By Masel’ (used again for 2018’s Superheroes), 2010’s Always A Bastard To Me, 2012’s Boo Lingerie’s Some Bugger That I Used To Know, 2016’s Shakespeare’s Love Story, and 2014’s Time Of My Life. Even 2015’s Minging Detectives managed to pull itself together for a version of I Know Him So Well. Some shows have varied this, 2013’s In Space having the Bowie Song, and 2019’s Roll Up having The Brexit Song at that point. 

All of which is apropos of nothing much, just that this year’s show is less story, more song. We got very plot-heavy with 2018’s Superheroes (inc the Racist Brother and a record number of costume changes), and 2019’s Roll Up (Nicole Kidman and a serial killer clown anyone?), so it was good to keep this show simple and, if anything, sillier. 

And I’ve been delighted with the reception. Let’s have a look at how all those previews went.

Feb, Leicester - 3 shows, much rewriting, giving us the structure we’ve kept since

May: Komedia - Only 2 in the audience, amazingly good reception

June: Otley - bonus gig, crowd had no idea what to expect, and loved us. Came away with notes about Deep C Diva appearing transphobic, so edited song

June: Neath - another bonus gig, to a local crowd who’d never seen the Socks. Totally went with it and loved it

June: Notts Stuff Fest - another bonus, to students as part of their theatre festival. Again, no-one had seen the Socks before, and again they loved Eurovision. In settings like the above 3 gigs, we’d expect to have to fall back on the ‘safe’ club set, so were delighted to get them on board with an all new hour.

June: Grassington - a brilliant preview gig. A sellout crowd were with us from the start and made us feel we had the best show ever. Some inspired writing followed, having done good adlibs on the night.

June: Camberley -  this wasn’t a Eurovision preview, it was a 30 min headline set in a comedy club, but a reminder of how odd audiences can be. They were cold and unreceptive throughout, and we even got a complaint afterwards! (For mentioning paedophile in the Michael Jackson routine). They got the ‘safe’ club set and never ‘got’ us, which just shows ta go ya.

July: Derby -  a trad, annual, preview slot. Following the brilliant Ian Stone. The audience were with us from the start, but an afternoon slot is a good test of material. If it’s not killer funny, you really become aware of those sagging moments. Some rewriting followed.

July: Beverley Puppet Festival - another sellout and another killer. If the crowd have paid to see you, and you’re making a welcome return after some years away (see also Grassington) it seems to be the recipe for a perfect show.

July: Sheffield - following Glenn Moore (the best preview show I’ve seen in years, it really is award-winning writing) put the quality of our show in context, and it was another afternoon slot. But the audience were with us and we had some inspired adlibbing. When we can keep the mood that good, the adlibs lift us over any sags in the core material. A tiny bit of rewriting followed. 

July: Bedfringe - another sellout and another home crowd, we’ve played there every year since 2007. Beautifully supportive, a feel good show.

July: Splendour Fest Notts - not a Eurovision preview, just a 20 minute slot on an open air festival stage. But, by god, we absolutely rocked. A stunning contrast to that awful Camberley gig who got, literally, the same set. All festival crowds should be as good as this.

July: Belladrum Inverness - er, yes. This is how I expected a festival crowd to be. Only 20 people, scattered round a massive tent. Every word we uttered turned to dust, and felt as flat as ink. When you can’t hear laughter (unless you listen really hard) you’re left concentrating on every flaw in every line, wishing your script was full of gags that would make even a crowd like this laugh. Definitely the least inspiring preview show of the lot. Could be worse, it could be the last one before we head to Edinburgh tomorrow!

In conclusion, audiences have loved Eurovision, whether they’ve been Socks fans or totally new to us, Festival gigs turn out to be completely unpredictable, and I have no idea what the next two weeks hold. Let’s find out.


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