Saturday, August 04, 2007

More play stuff

.... And the Festival's finally started. Even we've got an audience.

We've got past the grimness of the second night - we started with an audience of two, but had reached double figures ten minutes in - and last night we had a crowd of 27, and our first walk outs.

We actually adored our walk-outs. Ten minutes in they shook their heads sadly, nodded grimly, and slipped away so quietly no-one noticed. Bless 'em.

Of course, ten minutes later we had our first drunk stumble-in. Somehow he slipped past the venue staff to stagger in, wheezing and tottering, before collapsing uncertainly across the back row, where he lay panting like a trapped whale for a few minutes before waking up, blinking, belching softly and leaving.

The Festival suddenly has people – rather than just performers flyering each other hysterically. It's been a whole day since I've had a free ticket shoved at me by an old man clad in a feather boa.

Now that there are people, a venue's character really emerges. The Stand, for instance, is a small comedy club that's made itself the home of amiable late night comedy on the fringe. It's always crowded, but has a friendly, pubby atmosphere. People don't mind standing – especially not if it's next to someone famous.

The Assembly's a different beast entirely. It's got an excellent programme, but the venue has an airport-like love of tedious queues, eagerly policed by students with searchlights and attack dogs. The other day we were trying to find the end of the queue for the excellent Robin Ince (through the main hall, along the corridor, round the corner, second left, up the stairs). Rick went the wrong way and ended up in the theatre itself. Which was completely empty.

The Pleasance is the funkiest – this year they've decorated their courtyard with thousands of plastic windmills.

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