From behind closed (toilet) doors and onto the stage: Feminism at the Fringe

By Siobhán Stack-Maddox 

 

Kicking off with Katy Dye’s ‘Baby Face’ and ending with Cows and Kisses and Mind Out Theatre’s ‘The Ladies Loo Chronicles’, my week at the Fringe was nicely sandwiched by two very different, but both very powerful, pieces of feminist theatre. The power of these female performances made a lasting impression; both pieces are bold, with a definite shock factor, compelling audiences to reflect. I spoke to the cast and producers of ‘Chronicles’ about the inspiration behind their piece and their experience of performing at the Fringe.

 

“Daring, blunt, funny and unapologetic”: this is the kind of theatre co-producer Evangeline Osbon wanted to create when she set up Mind Out Theatre and these words perfectly sum up ‘Chronicles’. The comedy, which takes place in a club toilet, questions and breaks taboos whilst valorising female friendship and experience. Sharing Osbon’s desire to create “work with, by and for women”, Flora London, the show’s writer and co-producer who also plays the character of Megan, founded Cows and Kisses Theatre Company this year with the aim of “writing for real women”. London recalls bonding experiences in women’s club toilets on nights out as inspiring her to write a piece which brings women and their stories “out of the toilet and onto the stage”.

 

Disclaimer: although the play takes place in the eponymous ‘Ladies’ Loo’, ‘Chronicles’ is definitely not exclusively aimed at women. Osbon emphasises how impressed she has been by the show’s mixed audience demographic at the Fringe, both in terms of gender and age, including a large proportion of over-50s. Evangeline Dickson, who plays Lydia, notes how “creatively satisfying” it is to be part of a show which addresses such a broad audience and creates a dialogue surrounding the issues it explores.

 

As well as the witty writing, comic timing and energetic dance pieces, to which Osbon attributes the show’s broad appeal, ‘Chronicles’ pushes both theatrical and sociopolitical boundaries and raises questions surrounding class differences, the tampon tax and the Windrush generation. London explains that she wanted to explore “real women’s” thoughts and experiences of these issues. This kind of boundary pushing is fundamentally important at an exciting time of “evolving” and experimental theatre, according to Osbon. As roles within productions become “more fluid”, without distinctly separate writers or performers, theatre is developing into “a more creative, collaborative process”. The ‘Chronicles’ team agree that Edinburgh is the perfect place for creating and performing “more exciting theatre” which combines different mediums and challenges convention. Dickson enthuses about the city’s “buzzy, inspiring” atmosphere, which fuels the “need to create and collaborate”.

 

So, what’s next after the Fringe for the ‘Chronicles’ ladies? “We’d love to get in a toilet!” says London. They are already looking into collaborating with different venues, including clubs and bars. Watch this space: ‘Chronicles’ may be coming soon to a loo near you…

 

See my review of ‘Baby Face’:  http://edfringereview.com/r/W09kF9LcT-y_MEmrXDx6yg

‘Baby Face’ is on until 26th August at Summerhall at 13:30.
The ‘Chronicles’ team is raising money for Tommy’s and Sands stillbirth and neonatal death charities. They would like to thank their partner, organic intimacy company ‘YES’ and Alra drama school, especially the caretaker, Darren.

 

 


Coffee Shops and Cafes: Five Special Spots in Edinburgh

By Beatrix Swanson Scott 

 

Edinburgh’s lighthouse within the Fringe storm has to be its profusion of excellent coffee shops – whether you’re after cute and cozy, cool and swanky or (very) hipster, every part of town seems to have excellent spots on offer. I’ve spent a lot of time typing up reviews, trawling the Fringe programme or simply recharging my batteries (literal and figurative) in Edinburgh’s many cafes. Rather than acting as a definitive guide to the best, this article offers up a selection of five of the city’s coffee shops that are dear to me for one reason or another.

 

cafes

 

 

Lovecrumbs – 155 West Port 

This spot on West Port near Edinburgh College of Art had to be first on the list. Lovecrumbs, which until recently served only cake, is an Edinburgh institution. I recommend the warming cardamom hot chocolate to go with your sweet treats – it tastes especially good when balanced on the old piano which serves as one of the café’s random assortment of tables. Otherwise, the sought-after window seat is a rather cool place to hang out (once you’ve manoeuvred yourself into it).

 

Peter’s Yard – Quartermile 

Peter’s Yard is where I had brunch on my 18th birthday in September 2015 – I had stayed on a while after the Fringe that year. This Scandinavian-inspired bakery-café’s pastries are delicious; I especially like the cardamom buns. Right on the meadows, it’s a lovely central place to go for a light meal – and I am told their pizzas are amazing as well.

 

Filament – 38 Clerk Street 

I discovered this place back when it was located in India Buildings on Victoria Street – the window seats at the back of the high-ceilinged, cleanly hipster shop provided a welcome oasis around the corner from the hubbub of the Royal Mile. I took a shine to the unique name, and therefore went back when it moved to smaller premises on diverse, studenty Clerk Street. Though the move meant losing those wonderful ceilings, it’s still a great place to go for a bite and a well-made coffee.

 

Press Coffee – 30 Buccleuch Street 

This cute little place just around the corner from George Square (perfect for Fringe staff) serves good coffee and breakfasts, in an atmosphere that’s always friendly and bustling. I’ve done a lot of early-morning writing here. I recommend the delicious scones with jam and clotted cream. Bonus: their blue china on marble table has great Instagram value!

 

Mary’s Milk Bar – 19 Grassmarket 

Alright, this isn’t really a coffee shop. But there was no way I could leave it off the list. One of my favourite ice cream places in the world, this little place on the Grassmarket serves an eclectic rotating selection of homemade gelatos (from ‘Tea & Jam’ to ‘Candied Violet’) with distinctly vintage flair. Milkshakes, hot chocolate floats and, yes, coffee, are also available, and I promise that once you’ve braved the inevitable queue the first time, you’ll be back again and again.

 

 


It Takes Two: Coupling up in the EFR Villa

By Kathryn Tann 

It’s August, meaning EFR are sweating over their laptops in a desperate attempt to schedule as many shows as possible for this year’s Fringe. It means sending lots of emails and making lots of phone calls, all confirming that two tickets have been reserved for our red-garbed reviewers. “But why two tickets?” we so often hear. Well, let
me tell you.

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When we so boldy respond to applications for a review with a request for two whole press tickets, we’re not just taking the mick. For Ed Fringe Review, being able to send two keen thinkers to each show is essential for what we believe a good review should be: fair.

When we send two reviewers out, they come back with two opinions. By the following day, those two opinions will be published side by side on our website. The reviewers won’t have discussed the performance with each other, nor will they have shown any sort of bias. In this way, our double-sided system will never rely on one personal opinion, it will never be influenced by outsiders, and it will always give a better impression of a play than if we’d done it the usual way.

Of course, sticking to this two-person rule can sometimes be a bit of a faff. It means double the work load for myself and my co-editor, double the mouths to feed, double the trouble when it comes to booking tickets. There has to be a Love Island style re-coupling every day, which takes organising. (Sadly, our budget didn’t allow for personalised water bottles this year). Sometimes it feels like EFR is some strange parody of The Handmaids Tale: our reviewers are only ever seen wandering Edinburgh in pairs, and always clad in that signature scarlet.

And yet, it’s all completely worth it. Being an EFR reviewer is never a lonely job. But most importantly, we’re giving students, beginners, new writers, and all those innocent productions the fairest chance we can. We’re starting the conversation about their show; we’re doing our bit for the Fringe and all the wonderful theatre-talk that comes with it. It takes two people to start a conversation, and for us, that means it takes two to give a review.