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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.
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