I slept through my first fringe show, The Axis of Awesome’s Comeback Spectacular. This was not entirely unexpected as I got into Edinburgh at about 10am and sleep-walked around the old town for five hours (at which point it was about midnight Sydney time) – at least I gave them the ticket sale. It was disappointing because I was looking forward to seeing what sort of response Axis of Awesome would get here in Scotland – they are wildly popular with Sydney uni crowds, and one member of the band was kind enough to play me Ziggy Stardust era Bowie songs on the piano when I was bored and sober at the Arts Revue after party last year.

Fringe underbelly tent.

So the next morning, spurred on by my Fringe failure the night before I grabbed a ticket to a play called Table 23, staring friends of a friend who studied at East 15, a reputable drama school in London. The show was held over at the university campus (near the underbelly tent – pictured above), so I got a chance to orient myself a bit better in the city.

I was quite impressed with the play. It had been given a reasonably warm but not glowing reviews.

The problem noted in those reviews I’ve seen (and I agree) is that the main plot point of the play is implied, but not very clearly. Someone has died, and the main character is sad. Mysteriously sad. He and his sister are estranged. It reminds me of the feeling you get from the overuse of ellipsis in juvenile literary attempts – something bad has happened, but it is so very bad it can’t be mentioned. Often you get the feeling the author hasn’t even decided. I’ve seen plays with the same problem at Short + Sweet in Sydney. Given that the rest of the play works as a dark comedy, the actual story seems overly earnest and not entirely necessary.
All credit for the success of the play really hangs on the physical skill of the actors (they make up a group called Hot Tubs & Trampolines). While the plot of the play was thin on the ground, the puppetry, dance and physical theatre performed by the ensemble cast was enthralling.

They were even lucky enough to get a mention in the Times coverage of the Fringe.

Unfortunately the Times lists Table 23 as one of many plays that “peer into the darker side of online social networking and internet chatrooms”. Mercifully, it didn’t.

Leaflets for fringe.

Table 23
Hot Tubs and Trampolines

25/08/08
Sportsmans, Gilded Balloon

(My review here might be slightly biased as one of the Hot Tub and Trampolines actors once drove me around Essex in search for a Sunday roast. But subjectively, she was brilliant in this.)

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