Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Closing Time and Tarty Toes Redux

This blog post also appeared in what'sonstage.com (Edinburgh)

I'm holding an Edinburgh Festival Fringe retrospective. No PR, no invites, no celebrities, no press night. Audience of one. Just me. Sitting at my computer, in my soon to be vacated Edinburgh digs, reminiscing.

Actually vacated is a good word for it. Edinburgh has been vacated! The Royal Mile has reopened to traffic, no signs of posters or rogue flyers anywhere. No more colour coded lineards around the necks of improbably dressed and rather large ladies. No more street performers - good or bad. It's all gone. Down the sink hole or back where it all came from.Most of it to London I'm afraid.

I purposefully stayed in Edinburgh an extra few days so that I could experience it post Fringe. I wanted to breathe in this city in its return to normalcy. Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival is a bit like catching the Queen in fancy dress. It's novel and fascinating at first, but then one longs for the return of tradition and decorum.

So what have I done? With no more one woman show to prepare for (that's a 2 hour warm up and run through every day plus a 50 minute show and some three hours of flyering - every day)I've done what I always do when I have too much time on my hands and no particular focus. I've gone a bit over the top and OCD. I lounged on my couch and watched bad telly. I've done more yoga than is necessary. I've bought a mini kilt in purple tartan (more on that later), and I had a luxury pedicure that lasted two and a half hours and has left me with feather soft feat and the most delightful tarty fushia toenails. Cheap tarty. Perfect!!! To go with my new kilt which looks fabulous beyond words! "Oh, my word!" exclaimed the shop girl admiringly when I showed her.

And this brings me to the single most meaningful gift this wonderful city and its Fringe Festival have bestowed on me. An appreciation of myself as a feminine and girly entity. Not the celebration of the intellectual, or the actress, but a celebration of the woman I've always wanted to be: the girl who is happy to wear tarty nail polish and a mini kilt in purple tartan. More Cyndi Lauper "Girls Wanna Have Fun" than Madonna's "Vogue" but hey - I'm happy.

I'm happy! It's rainy and cold here. But never mind, I'm so grateful to Edinburgh for the lovely welcome, and for looking after me so well.

I've cleaned out the flat. Packed my bags. Ready to go.

Now, it's off to yoga. If nothing else, to show off my tarty toes!

Monday, 25 August 2008

The mini kilt, in purple tartan

No show today. And the Festival is definitely winding down. Tents being dismantled, posters taken down. Only a trickle of people on the Royal Mile, well anywhere really! I'm glad we finished yesterday on the warmest day of the Festival, on a high...

My Festival guardian angels picked up my props and costumes from the Underbelly and will drive them back down to London for me tonight. The Underbelly... it was like seeing someone you know well when they're dead. It was being dismantled, piece by piece and the spirit had gone out of it already. I wish I hadn't seen it like that. But I got to say goodbye to a few more people.


It always amazes me how some tourists suffer from tunnel vision. Overheard in the Cashmere House shop (I know, I know...) on the Royal Mile: "Is it always this crowded in Edinburgh?" They were Belgian (Flemish) and Dutch tourists (I know, I don't see the difference either, but that's because I'm French and can indulge in certain regional European stereotypes... you're just being racist.) All the shop girl could muster was "Aye, always busy in August, but it's very quiet the rest of the year." She didn't even mention the Festival (Fringe or otherwise)!

Anyway, I went into this wee shop (I'm going native, can you hear it?) and tried on this lovely mini kilt, in purple tartan. I tried it on in pink too but wrong colour. £55. It could be a nice end of festival treat (I'm already getting the luxury pedicure tomorrow but work with me). It looked amazing: "oh... my word!" was the spontaneous exclamation from the shop girl when I pulled back the curtain of the changing room. She really liked it!

I didn't buy it. Even though I tried it on in 2 separate branches of the same shop. I went a bit OCD, a small defect here, another one there. Sabotage. I think I'll go back in and get it tomorrow.

Because, oh my word! - it don't look half good!

Me and Madonna

All done!

It was a great last show: great giggly audience (this one little wizzened old lady laughed through the whole lot, even the dark bits like the addict speech!), good turnout, some mates, and I had a good energy flowing throughout. It was bittersweet and delicious: like candied orange rind dipped in dark chocolate.

Oh my god! I'm no longer on a voice diet. Oooooh, cheese and ice cream and chocolate in all of its forms and maybe even a skinny decaf Capuccino (could never spell it) from Starbucks!

I made some new friends in the last few moments. It's often that way. Including the lovely Evelyne who is a Madonna impersonator and who is very very hot (hotter than the genuine article actually) as well as very talented. :) We'll hook up in London. And Otto, from "A thousand years of German Humour" and the marvellous Sam Bloom who's one woman show is something to behold. Although she might have thought I was a stalker in the making... she's so terribly British and reserved.

I'm as unreserved as they come, an exhibitionist, and a bit louche under all the Frenchness.

Now decompresssing. Did yoga. Now quiet evening of telly (I think the Olympics are over) and reading and then final get out tomorrow and more lazying about and then a luxury pedicure on Wednesday.

So when I get back to London you can all come over and kiss my toes!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Just hit me baby one more time...

23 shows done and 1 to go.

And so it comes to this. Inevitable I guess but a month ago it seems like the Festival would go on for ever!
Had a lady come up to me after the show today. Very emotional, very moved. She lives in London. I think I may have made a new friend.

I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has shown support and come to see the show in preview in London or during the run here in Edinburgh. And some of you have even come to see it twice.

You know who you are, you lovely generous souls. And I know who you are too. I also know who didn't come, and it's been duly noted.

So this is the night before the last performance. Well, the last performance at the Ed Fringe 08, at any rate.

How do I feel? Bittersweet, tired, excited, sad, lonely, glad to have the 2 sofas to myself so I can sprawl around in my underwear, and fart to my heart's content. But mostly very grateful for the journey.

Notes from the Fridge will wind up when I leave Edinburgh on Wednesday. But I will replace it with a new daily blog. Which I haven't named yet. I had 3 blogs published in the media during my time here, so I think I'll definitely keep up with this modern form of diary writing. Like sex and the city but without underwear in the sex scenes.

Good night, sleep tight (what ever you're wearing or not wearing as the case may be.)

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Can I interview you?

19 shows done. 5 to go!

It was raining a bit yesterday. Well, we had a sunny post lunchtime spell and then it started coming down. And I was wearing trainers because... well because I thought that would keep the rain at bay. In a gri-gri sort of way. (For the Francophiles you'll have spotted the unintentional pun: gri is phonetically the same as the word "grey" in French.)

So I got a bit wet. But not too much.

I was flyering this lady who had a big smile and friendly way about her. I was maybe 5 seconds in when she interrupted me: "You sound so interesting! I'm a reported for Radio Suid Afrika. I'm waiting to do an interview but the person is running late... can I do a quick interview with you now? Do you mind?" Now, I may be new at this game, but I know an opportunity when I see one! "Not at all!" So she whipped out her recording equipment and I told her all about the show and about me. It will have featured in her nightly broadcast... Cool! (I'm going global... as in both hemispheres!!) Thanks Lida.

I also had another proof that the people from Edinburgh are really really friendly. I forgot my gym card (due to having to tip contents of bagback out earlier in the day to try and dry it out - and the card slipping out) and only discovered it on my way to yoga. I almost hopped off the bus. Ran all manners of scenarios in my head. But you know what? When I got there and told my story the nice brunette on reception said "Oh, I know you, you come in all the time, don't worry, in you go!" And it was that easy. See, working out a lot is a good thing... right?

Thank you also to the nice old lady on bus 23 yesterday afternoon. We had a lovely chat about the weather, Edinburgh, how Princes' street is no longer the shopping experience it once was, and having a cup of coffee in MacDonald's in Germany. You reminded me of my gran.

Monday, 18 August 2008

"Hi, I'm Josephine Baker’s great-grandaughter."

(This Blog post appeared in What's On Stage (Edinburgh).)
Posted Date: Aug 18 - 3:44 PM

It's not everyday that fiction meets reality. Or rather that legend intersects with real life. But it happened to me this weekend.

For some three weeks now, I've been walking around the streets of Edinburgh with the show's t-shirt (don't worry, it's not the same t-shirt day in day out, I've got two.). Now, the t-shirt sports the show's title "There's Something in the Fridge that Wants to Kill Me!" as well as the banana girl created for me by the immensely talented Oscar Grillo. As well as being the show's icon, the banana girl is a reference to the Josephine Baker tribute that I perform half way through the show, wearing a belt of bananas "and very little else.

Now, most people don't remember Josephine Baker or even know of her by name, although a surprising number are aware of her banana dance. So we were a bit taken aback when this very proper home counties middle aged lady who'd been staring at the producer's chest (it turns out she was staring at the image of the t-shirt) volunteered: "the banana dance… like Josephine Baker's." "Yes, that's right!" we said. She carried on "Well, I'm her great grand daughter." It turns out she's called Lynn, and her sister is called Josephine (presumably in honour of her great grandmother). And her maiden name was Baker.

I'm starting to think that Josephine Baker's spirit is looking over me and my show. I've been feeling really looked after. And I'm finding a lot of connections to her… one degree of separation at a time. For example, one of my ex-classmates from Drama School has a great uncle who was Josephine's first husband. And I spoke to a couple on Sunday who had just returned from NYC where they'd dined at Josephine's which is a French restaurant run by one of her sons. (It's south of Times Square apparently).

So Josephine is my guardian angel! I wonder what she makes of my bananas. I bet hers weren't polystyrene. I hope she doesn't mind the song. I'm sure she doesn't! When I look at old footage of her on YouTube she looks like she had a real sense of humour, a love of life, and was quite partial to a bit of clowning.

And I wonder if she comes in and watches every show, or guides my flyers into the right hands. Or simply keeps me feeling blessed and grateful for my first Edinburgh Festival Fringe experience.

Dear Josephine, wherever you are, from one little Parisienne to another: merci, merci, mille fois merci!

The Last Week

17 performances done, 7 to go!

It's the final stretch. It's going to be so much fun! I can't wait to get to the end of the week!

Things are going well. But everyone says the last week is a bit anti-climatic, smaller audiences, people have left already or the fatigue is setting in. For performers as well as audiences.

I don't mind. I'll happily perform to just one person if only one person shows up! That's what my show is all about this year.

Still getting good feedback from people. Including directors. They know where to look for flaws but they're still saying: "good job!"