Are the Edinburgh Fringe blues setting in? Fear not! Here the wonderful Ruby Gilding takes us through what your Fringe venue of choice might say about you…
1. Underbelly Circus Hub
You’ve headed towards what looks like a model of Elmo the Elephant set up on the Meadows. This is the festival’s Circus Hub; you’re not brave enough for cabaret, so you came to prove that you’re still ‘out there’. A short walk south of the city centre and this patch of green makes you forget about the hubbub of the Royal Mile. There are people practising tai chi on the grass, and a group sitting in a circle enthusiastically drumming. At first you feel relaxed, mistakenly thinking you’ll be at home amongst other mindfulness practising townies. But soon you’re inside the Lafayette and every surface is covered in mirrors; add this to the multi-coloured confusion outside and it’s all starting to give you a migraine, but you won’t let on.
2. Pleasance Courtyard
The Pleasance is proud to call itself the biggest venue of the Fringe with its total of sixteen stages. You’ll repeat this to yourself throughout the festival; because no, you’re not missing out. Why would you want to leave and explore the rest of Edinburgh when everything is so comfortably middle class here? You can stay for days within the courtyard with its festival atmosphere channelling Latitude or Greenman and still feel like you’re ‘doing’ the festival. “Defy the norm” announces the Fringe as this year’s motto, perhaps you should take this on board and strike out from the sheltered cobbles of The Pleasance.
3. C Venues
You’re probably here to watch your mates’ show, or most likely you’ve brought one up to the Fringe from your university’s drama society. You thought that it would be the best way to meet fellow thesps and announce your arrival to the theatre world. After the first few shows in a tiny back room (with an even tinier audience) you’ve realised that you’re small fry. There are hundreds of student shows to compete against, so your youthful confidence makes the most of it and you spend a heady month getting drunk and completing the obligatory clamber up Arthur’s Seat at four AM.
4. Cabaret Voltaire
You paid enough for a train ticket getting you up here to fork out for the shows themselves. So you’re lurking around the free fringe venues, after being lured in by the “free hour of comedy starting in ten minutes” chant of the guy pushing flyers on the street. And now you can’t leave. At first it looks promising, there are shows in different caves around the bar and the bicycle stool décor is kind of fun. But now it’s looking like you’re trapped in an underground bunker with one cringey stand up show after another to keep you company.
Who knows what you came to see. Bedlam has more cheap drinks than even the Weatherspoon’s in your home town. But as it’s in a gothic church there are enough artsy vibes going round to make it acceptable for the Fringe. Bedlam is also the oldest student-run theatre, and that must stand for something, you reason. This is where the drama cliques in the know will end up every night for the whole month, getting steadily blotto.