The Festival according to Mr. Munro

Posted by in August's Magazine

Edinburgh Festival is bigger than Glastonbury and can, like Glastonbury, intimidate by sheer size alone never mind the fact that the population doubles. But seek and you will find riches and some of it will not cost riches.

Once again Jonathan Mills bins expectations with Edinburgh International Festival providing some real must-see stuff. Shahrazad tells tales to save her life in One Thousand and One Nights at the Lyceum. You can gorge yourself on both parts in one day or see each part on different days. With tickets from £10 and a discount of 10% if both parts are purchased in the same transaction this comes in cheaper than some Fringe productions.


The Philip Glass ensemble will play live to the Qatsi Trilogy of films over 3 nights in the Playhouse. Glass originally composed and choreographed the music to fit the images precisely and this promises to be a rare experience. With tickets for each performance starting at £12 the trilogy is possible for just over the cost of top tickets for one performance. Should this prove too costly, Glass will talk about the trilogy at the Hub, as part of the excellent Conversations with Artists series for £6. This and the Continental Shifts talks and debates continue the ideals of the Enlightenment by tackling big themes such as ‘How Chinese money is changing the world’. No more working for the Yankee dollar then.

Once again the Fringe intimidates by scale alone but there are pearls to be had. Ten Plagues at the Traverse finds Marc Almond performing a libretto by Mark Ravenhill (£12 or £6 for concessions). Leaping across the road, the Lyceum Theatre Company appears under the Traverse umbrella in Wondrous Flitting written by their artistic director Mark Thomson. Dust raises hopes only because it’s set on the morning of Thatcher’s death and might be worth the trip to the George Street for that reason alone. Let’s hope they get their timing right!

Extreme rambling
Definitely getting their timing right are The Stand with, Singin’ I’m no a Billy he’s a Tim, a play about Scotland’s shame that exposes sectarianism in a way that is both funny and enlightening. As well as timing the Stand get pricing right and with Phil Jupitus, Richard Herring, Stewart Lee and oor very ain Vladimir McTavish it is worth supporting your local comedy club. Pick up their brochure to find out more. Mark Thomas (Bongo Club) is always good value and his show Extreme Rambling is not an aimless monologue but his tale of walking the wall built by Israel to suppress the Palestinian peoples.

Two of the more unusual venues are the Unison offices on Belford Road, which is hosting an Anti-Cuts Festival. With workshops from Messrs Thomas and Lee, other surprises, and Susan Morrison acting as your conspiratorial host this could prove to be an old fashioned ‘happening event’ that becomes this year’s story. The other unusual venue is Arthur’s Seat. Josie Long, Simon Munnery and Rich Fulcher can be found near the summit at 3.00pm on August 20th paying tribute, in their own way, to Lionel Richie – I know some Leither readers would climb Arthur’s Seat to avoid Lionel Richie so it’s just as well this is free.

Give your ears a treat by listening to the Burns Unit, whose new album Side Show is very good, at Queens Hall on August 24th. You can enjoy Dick Gaughan in the same venue two days earlier. It’s good to see the Malmaison back as a Fringe venue, hosting Half Man Half Biscuit’s favourite songwriter Dean Friedman from 17th to 21st August

Fierce looking and fierce talking Henry Rollins mauls the word at the Queens Hall in a way that will see him sell out. The written word made real can be found at the Book Festival, which has some real quality this year. A highlight for me will be Neil Gaiman talking about his great novel American Gods on the 10th anniversary of its publication.

Dan Gray is free
Local author Daniel Gray can be found talking football with an Aberdeen fan who remembers the Glory Days under Alex Ferguson on Wednesday 17th August. Whilst Aberdeen fans may baulk at the £10 admission price, Dan is always good value for money. Mr. Gray is also (free) in the Speigeltent on 20th August as one of the writers reading for Amnesty International in their Imprisoned Writers series. The highlight here will be the reading of work by Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi who, despite having the Freedom of the City, will be unable to attend. Again this is free. If you can’t make it along on the 25th then pay tribute to her at the tree planted in her honour in West Princes Street Gardens.

Of course you don’t have to take my word for it. Pick up one of the myriad brochures, flick to any page, and I guarantee you’ll find something to stimulate… above all, have fun!

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