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[personal profile] mirrorshard
Things I've done in Edinburgh so far, let's see... mostly I've been wandering around and getting to know the city, which of course involves finding the good pubs.

The Scotsman's Lounge on Cockburn Street is a reliable traditional pub, serves a good pint of Caledonian, good live modern folk in the evenings, but the Half-Way House just down the road and down the steps beats it right now, mostly because they currently have Belhaven 90/- on tap. 8%, and as sweet, dark, and sexy as the Queen of Sheba. Just up the steps from there is Ariba, which serves the best chips (I've so far found) in Edinburgh, has stills from Grease and Breakfast at Tiffany's on the walls, and a TV with Christian documentaries showing (as far as I can tell) back to back. (It also advertises halal burgers.)

The World's End, on the other hand, only serves the 80/-, and it isn't a Free House, which I find a bit disappointing. It's right at the site of the old east gate of Edinburgh, but none of the signs mention the usual habits and clientele of gateside inns at all. Are the Scots really that prone to moral rectitude, or do they just not like admitting their gentlemen rode the high toby on occasion?

Friday afternoon I spent in the delightful company of [livejournal.com profile] elettaria and [livejournal.com profile] ghost_of_a_flea, over falafel and a selection of the best bookshops Edinburgh has to offer. What particularly sticks in my mind is finding a French's Acting Edition of a play by Dodie Smith (the same, I presume, as the author of 101 Dalmatians - and re-reading this when posting, yes, it is the same, I checked in the back of another of her books I found elsewhere), listing in the cast one John Gielgud. As a child.

Sunday morning, I got up bright and early to find the Quaker meeting house, and spent an hour in quiet and silence, and nearly that in conversation over tea. (One of the great truths of religious life - wherever two or more Quakers are gathered together, there will be somewhere nearby to get a nice hot cup of tea.) I met someone who'd spent years at the same Meeting I usually attend, and had a long chat with another, almost a stereotypical Quaker woman in sensible boots, jeans, and brightly-coloured shirt, with short-cut grey hair and a collie called Rose at her side. (The first Meeting I've been to with a dog in it. She was very well behaved.) We talked about markets, and the difficulties of
buying exotic vegetables on the Portobello Road in the sixties - apparently, if you asked any of the male stallkeepers how you cooked something, that was a serious insult, and you'd have to wait for one of the women to get back.

I've seen enough street theatre by now to see common elements everywhere (Oh, yes the "which city are we in again?" opener), which is maybe why I rarely stop to see an entire act. AJ the escapologist/acrobat, though, was worth a look for his patter, despite not doing anything really out of the ordinary. Living statue acts are another thing I'll usually yawn at and pass by, but this silvery Victorian lady posed very nicely, and the kiss she blew me made up my mind, despite my still being dubious about that hat. I did stop and admire her dress the next day, when I saw her getting ready to pose, but didn't mention the hat. It suits her well enough, I'm not going to assume authority over proper statue costume, and greying up all that lovely red hair underneath would be a shame.

I saw one indoor act too, a Shakespeare medley double-bill from one company - Infinite Variety/For Every Passion Something, at the Roxy Arthouse. Most of the reason I saw it was because they were papering the house, I admit, but at least I didn't get handed my comp until after I'd made a Shakespeare joke to the girl with the flyers. Not a very good Shakespeare joke, but at least it was something to rescue my self-esteem. These were done by students from Davidson College, NC, looked after by the RSC. In general, I can't fault the staging or the performance, but overall, both productions seemed a bit slight and pointless.

The first was a "comic cabaret of Shakespeare's love songs and sonnets", and lived up to that bill quite well, with all the savour clean-cut guys and polished girls in push-up bras could bring. Most of what I remember about it is the rampant lesbianism they'd found in Sigh No More Ladies. Subtext without the subtlety.

The second was billed as "a look at modern America". This may be because I'm not American, but I find myself entirely at a loss to see a running theme here, or any particular reason for the choice of this set of scenes. Any explanations or suggestions from genuine Americans would be well received.

R&J V.III : Juliet refuses her father's choice of a husband.
Measure for Measure III.I : Isabel talks to Claudio in prison.
Henry IV part I V.IV: a battle, and the death of Hotspur.
Twelfth Night II.I : Antonio and Sebastian part.
Twelfth Night II.IV : "My father's daughter loved a man."

And the bit which really pissed me off.

A Midsummer Night's Dream V.I : I'd been firmly intending to avoid the bloody Dream this year. It's not that I don't like or approve of it, I do, I think it's a fine piece of work with a lot of interesting ideas. But I've seen it, I've read it, I've studied it, I've explained it, I've parodied it, I've fucked around with it, and I've worked on an entire season of it. I want a break!

And of all the scenes they could have chosen, why this one? Why the damn
mini-play, with none of the comic lead-up and none of the romantic parts?
And my personal beef, which so many companies do, a burgomask dance without Bottom at the centre. I mean, he's the reason they dance at all. (And, as I remember explaining at length to [livejournal.com profile] victoriana_ross in a pub once, the only reason the Dream has two endings on top of each other.) Oh, and Francis Flute the bellows-mender was played by a pretty redheaded girl, which I felt was missing the point somewhat, given that that scene was standing entirely in isolation.

Date: 2006-08-15 04:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dreammonkey.livejournal.com
OMG! You went into the Scotsman's Lounge! I swear this is the only place I've ever been in and had *watered down cider.* The World's End is a nice pub. You don't get many nice pubs with famous murders named after them...

It's a damn shame I've not made it down to the festival in recent years. We were planning to come down a couple of weeks ago before the car died...

Date: 2006-08-16 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
I'll remember not to try the cider, if I go back!

Date: 2006-08-15 04:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dreammonkey.livejournal.com
Do at least one ghost tour before you go! (Preferably the Greyfriars Covenanter's Prison one or the one of the Niddry St Vaults)

Date: 2006-08-15 05:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ceirseach.livejournal.com
*presents the Wall*

Date: 2006-08-16 01:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] claudacity.livejournal.com
R&J V.III do you mean VI.III? come to think of it, my R&J is very rusty. :( I like that scene, it's one of my favourite in the play. I suppose you could consider all the scenes as being literally representative of america - i.e. domestic abuse, prisons, overtones of homosexuality. if you get what I mean. (literally representative sounds a bit odd.)

scotland sounds wonderful, have to squeeze it into one of my term breaks.

Date: 2006-08-16 08:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
Might well mean that, I copied from their programme and not from the text.

I can see how they're all representative of modern society, but I just don't see anything distinctively American about them.

Date: 2006-08-16 08:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] glassstrider.livejournal.com
It looks like you have spent a good portion of your time finding cute redheads - a noble pursuit, and one that I admire your zeal in.

Glad to hear you are enjoying yourself!

Date: 2006-08-16 11:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elettaria.livejournal.com
There was also the bloke from my synagogue we ran into in one of the bookshops, who's got rather fabulous curly red hair which he's growing, and whom I alarmed when the bookseller asked whether he, [livejournal.com profile] mirrorshard or [livejournal.com profile] ghost_of_a_flea was my boyfriend (note: I've known this bookseller for years so this wasn't a random question, he knew I was dating another bookseller), and I said, "How do you know it's not all three?" [livejournal.com profile] mirrorshard, you're corrupting me, I shouldn't even have been thinking that (not that I have any intentions of that kind, I'm a monogamous animal), I could have sworn aforementioned redheaded chap blushed.

I know a couple of Quakers from the women's interfaith group, wonder if you met any? We borrow the Quaker Meeting House for Jewish services now and again, less often these days as the physical access is a bitch, which is a pity as I really like it. The view is lovely, isn't it.

Date: 2006-08-16 08:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
It's entirely possible I did meet some, and yes, it's gorgeous - but I can just imagine it would be utterly awful trying to get up all those stairs with problems.

Date: 2006-08-16 08:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elettaria.livejournal.com
If you mean the stairs inside the building, there's a lift. If you mean the stairs up to Victoria Terrace, they're avoidable by coming round the other way. But it's narrow and steep and cobbled and a bugger to park and manoeuvre wheelchairs around in.

Date: 2006-08-17 09:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
[I]t's narrow and steep and cobbled and a bugger to park and manoeuvre wheelchairs around in.

In my experience so far, this describes most of Edinburgh.

Date: 2006-08-16 08:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
Actually, it's entirely accidental. I don't know why I keep running into them. The ones who try to give me comp tickets are usually blondes, though, so it balances out.

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