Saturday, August 08, 2009

Edinburgh: Further Adventures

I am clearly not a hardened Edinburgh pro and it shows; people see me coming. Whenever someone stops me in the street to talk to me about their new show, I feel obliged to pause and listen and smile and nod and say, yes, maybe, that sounds interesting, give me a flyer, give me two. As a result it takes a good long while to get anywhere.

In between collecting large amounts of paper I have managed to see some more actual theatre. First up there was Glyn Cannon’s Coffee at the Pleasance Courtyard,a short, smart play about three advertising execs trying to shake from their brains a campaign for the Donkey Coffee Company. Cannon’s writing takes some pleasing detours into the absurd and has a lovely rattling, rhythm. The cast capture the inanity of such ‘creative’ brainstorming perfectly and manage to encapsulate certain recognisable media types without resorting to outright caricature. It’s an amusing, if slight, piece probably not best served by the lunchtime slot – and I think they missed a trick by not handing out cups of coffee to the audience.

A bit later on I saw Janis at the Gilded Balloon, a play about the life of Janis Joplin. Set in the Landmark Motor Hotel where Joplin would OD at the age of 27, it’s a one woman show written by and starring Nicola Haydn as Joplin. The play itself is pretty stiff and conventional; Joplin sits alone and high, recounting her life, recalling her childhood in Port Arthur, Texas and describing her deep need to escape from a world where she never fitted in. Haydn captures her exterior toughness and inner vulnerabilities. It’s a rich, interesting performance that rises some way above the rather run-of-the-mill material. Through Haydn we grasp Joplin’s dogged insistence on living for the now and raising a finger to everything else; her deep belief that each new band, each attempt to get herself clean, will be the one that works for her; and while Haydn can replicate Joplin's trademark cackle, she really inhabits the role rather than just doing a good impersonation.

On a non-theatre note I have been told that the area I am staying in is sometimes referred to as the pubic triangle due to the volume of, er, gentlemen's clubs in the vicinity.

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