Note: This review is from the 2018 Fringe

The press previews and launch events for the media at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe are over. They were – so I’m led to believe – a chance to get into the main venues, have a look around, and find out where the bars are. It was also fun to play is the “free” bar a genuine free bar, or one where the sponsor’s drinks are free but non-alcoholic drinks are rung up at full price.

How to keep hydrated of course is not the main goal of the previews, even though Scott Gibson took the opportunity to hand out a subtle reminder that very few venues have air conditioning. For me the real value in this marathon week of launch events is to act like a “warm-up” lap at motor racing that gets the tyres up to temperature. It is a chance to switch over from being “a native” to “one of the media class that holds the fate of ‘the next Josh Widdicombe’ in our hands with our choice of critical words”.

As a resident of Edinburgh, I started this week of the Fringe with exactly the same contempt of the Fringe as others. An invasion of Scotland’s capital by Shoreditch, an acute lack of space on the streets as visitors quietly amble between the immoveable logjams of the professional flying teams and the annual “let’s lie down and give out flitters” wheeze by whoever drew the short straw and is putting on Batboy, and wondering just how the national newspapers could declare “the best comedy to see in Edinburgh” during July.

Now the end of the week is here, and the previews have reminded me why the Fringe is here, why it is a lovely space for the arts to occupy, and how it can change careers. I’ve not broken free from the thrall of the Fringe. I was just in my cocoon for the last eleven months. Once more I’m enticed in, my wings are out, and I’m reminded of the good times during years past.

The potential, once more, is flying through the air. Even if the bar is set a little higher this year.