Location is everything. After living in Edinburgh for four years, I can finally consider myself a local. I know this, because I’m getting a bit grumpy with all the festival hype. From my astute observations (and personal experience), the off-putting thing for so many locals is the hub of the five big venues in the Old Town. From Princes Street to George Square, the city is pretty much a no-go for anyone doing anything other than clawing through masses of people hollering directions and avoiding flyerers. It takes ages to get anywhere. And you start resenting human beings just for existing in the path in front of you. (I suspect I will feel like this year-round when I really am old).
If it wasn’t for Leith on the Fringe, which is situated round the corner from my flat, I’d have succumbed to the overcrowded, poorly air-conditioned bubble days ago, but alas, I have been reminded that there’s more fringe to the Fringe than at C-assembundergildedpleasancebellyvenues.
And so I made the trek to Nutshell’s Allotment which is set, well, in an allotment. The just-announced Fringe First winner is an outdoor, all-weather comedy that reveals the relationship between two sisters in a fiercely physical and entertaining performance. It’s hard not to be compelled by the women; their connection with land and time is organic and enriched by the temperamental Scottish weather. (Tea and scone included – wonderful). The dialogue is witty and the story moving, Jules Horne’s script is not simply performed; it is given life in Kate Nelson’s production.
Allotment is not the only site-specific Fringe First winner so far, but it is certainly the most ambitious in terms of staging. If you live round the corner – go. If you don’t, make the journey. Tackle the claustrophobia of the city centre with the great outdoors (Inverleith Park). Location is everything, and sometimes stepping out of the box is just as integral to creative success as being in the heart of it.