The flagship event of the online Fringe, some serious festival heavyweights are on the roster for each of the four Fringe on Friday live streams. They make it count too, with a variety production that celebrates home-grown Fringe acts and gives the big names time to make themselves heard again.
Jayde Adams – host for the night – separates every couple of performances with general banter and some anecdotes about her own Fringe experiences. Her hosting style is a beauty to behold, with energy and gravitas even when technical problems threaten to cut her off. It proves that, even at the top level, an entirely online Fringe is a promising experiment – one we can have a lot of fun with.
Kicking off the night is Laurie Black, who with a glint in her eye and her ever distinctive style introduces the audience to her newest track ‘Dark Days’ – an ode to the Fringe that evokes the fondest memories of the kind of August we were meant to have. She is followed immediately by Rachel Fairburn, who delivers some cracking jokes about friendship, being single and the Manchester accent: “if Pixar ever brought out a film about cartoon bins, this is what they would sound like.”
Craig Hill and Daniel Sloss are next, part of Hill’s series celebrating local Fringe heroes. Sloss, whose career took off following his first Fringe appearances over ten years ago, gives a touching testimonial about how he got into live comedy – although fans might be disappointed at there being no new material shared with the digital crowd.
They are followed by three talented comedians on the bounce. First up is Sadia Azmat, who dishes out some delicious dark comedy and razor-sharp satire, with her Christian Orthodox flatmate at one point becoming the subject matter. Donald Alexander’s downbeat and almost monotonous dry humour hits the mark well, with a closing joke that is especially fantastic. Lastly in this comic triple header is Travis Jay with a brilliantly performed and very animated piece focusing almost exclusively on how much he misses road rage.
Reuben Kaye proves to be the highlight of the night. His glamour coats even the dirtiest jokes in glitter, and the wonderfully erratic set is brought to life by some great editing. Fern Brady follows, who plays to her strengths as an Edinburgh local: Scottish fans in particular will be laughing heavily at some of her descriptions. Finally, Abandoman closes the night, his improvised rap and audience involvement the perfect fun note on which to end the show (albeit something of a nightmare if you haven’t been missing the silent discos).
Fringe on Friday captures the spirit of the festival in all its variety, making the most of its headliners and giving them platforms to shine. It is both a valiant attempt to recreate what we are all missing, and an acknowledgement that even something as good as this can’t beat the real thing.