Friday 25 August – all killer, no filler…
Early evening we saw this year’s iteration of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag, performed by Maddie Rice this year rather than the author.
I got interested in Fleabag from hearing about the TV series which grew out of Waller-Bridge’s performance of the play at the 2014 Fringe, it being frequently suggested that if one liked Lena Dunham’s Girls, this was cut from the same cloth. So I watched the TV series earlier this year and it was good, but not nearly as good as the simply presented hour that is Fleabag on stage; the stage version is both funnier and more sinister than the six half-hours of television. Grim humour, a character who is desperate to be liked but fairly detestable.
Waller-Bridge also appeared at the Edinburgh Television Festival and reportedly said that although Fleabag was conceived as a one-off, she has finally thought of a way a second series can be done…I hope the concept is not stretched too far, but you can’t grudge her capitalising on such a successful play.
From the Underbelly to the Museum…
…to watch Stuart Maconie’s Jarrow Road to the Deep South, a talk based on his latest book of social history, Long Road from Jarrow. This was a Fringe rather than a Book Festival event; Maconie is as good a performer as he is a writer, so needs no interlocutor to discuss the work with him.
The book describes Maconie’s 300-mile walk from Jarrow to London, following the route of the Jarrow March of 1936. The walk allows him to compare the hopes and dreams of the marchers of sixty years before with the social conditions now in the villages and towns they both passed through. I haven’t read it yet, but the show makes it essential – well, it was anyway, I’ve enjoyed all his books.
Finally that evening, I met Alan and Susan from littledoorbooks as we had arranged the previous day to attend The Unthanks‘ show at The Book Festival. The Unthanks have recently released an album of their interpretations of the songs of Molly Drake, which I have been enjoying for the last few months, but an appearance at a Book festival seemed tenuous…it turns out that the author David Mitchell, who was a guest programmer and the presenter of the evening’s event, just really likes The Unthanks and is also researching a book about musicians and was keen to ask the band about their processes.
Understandably, and unusually for the Book Festival, there were several musical performances by way of illustration of these quiet, gentle songs performed to piano accompaniment…the pounding rain on the marquee was loud against this, but couldn’t have been foreseen.
What probably could have been foreseen for an event starting at 9:45pm would be that the noise of the fireworks at the conclusion of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo (at the Castle, over the road,) would have been intrusive. What definitely should have been foreseen was the noise of the band playing their gig in the Spiegeltent across the square, at a different Book Festival event…you could have forgiven The Unthanks a flounce as they tried to play over three different intrusions, but they carried on in good spirits.
Finally, some local colour in the restroom of one of our overflowing city centre taverns this evening, where we sure know how to welcome our visitors!