The problem I have with the Fringe is it feels like that ex-boyfriend, the one you knew you didn’t want anywhere near you ever again, every single thing they did annoyed you, from their smell to their voice, you wanted them gone. So you leave, only to realise that you’ve made a horrible mistake when you see them again a year later, and you run back into their arms, only to find they smell the same and don’t sound any different, so you start hating them all over again. Well, actually, I have another problem with the Fringe, and it’s not the Fringe itself, but the kind of people it can attract. Forget that euphemism about bees to honey, this is more like flies to shit; you see them crawling and buzzing around forgotten piles of crap everywhere, but the sight of this never fails to disgust you.
The case in point is what happened to me when I went to review the NTS’ Beautiful Burnout late last week. Being a typical anti-social and grumpy reviewer, I sat as near to the back and the side as possible, and assumed no one would dare sit beside me. But they did. The flies swarmed in with backcombed bouffant hair, and that irritating misplaced sense of entitlement because someone had given them a 4 star review. The auditorium was filling up fast, but as they sat next to me, they ignored everyone else around them and discussed moving seats, or getting other people to move seats so they could sit together in a damning girly congregation of self-confessed future theatrical geniuses. And of course, they seemed to know EVERYONE else around them.
After they’d finally decided where to plonk their indecisive behinds, they then held a sign aloft, for everyone to see, a sign that advertised their own play, which got 4 stars by the way. Not only was this rude, it was damn disrespectful, and I was glad that a member of the NTS staff quickly told them to put it down before I did.
Not long after they’d finished giggling at the thought of getting told off, one of them then proceeded to loudly question the sexual orientation of the co-creators of Beautiful Burnout, solely based on the picture of them printed in the programme. I don’t need to tell you that this was rude, because we live in the 21st century, and no one gives a shit about things like this anymore outside of high school, especially if you’re taking part in the world’s biggest arts and culture festival.
As the play began, the one next to me sighed loudly and fidgeted continuously, as though she was hoping someone would hear her and whisk her away, away from the play. I wish somebody had too, but alas, no such knight in shining armour appeared. Then, every time she moved, she bumped me with her elbow, her hands, her impossibly long legs and didn’t apologise or acknowledge the fact. Obviously she was sitting next to an empty chair, an empty chair that was getting in the way of her unnecessary stretches. Well this empty chair left the theatre well and truly pissed off. Thank you, inconsiderate and midly talented youth of today, you make my life so damned worthwhile and enjoyable.
So here’s some tips, kids, if they ever let you back into Edinburgh again:
1. Sit down, shut up and watch the play.
2. If you try to advertise your own play whilst waiting for another production to start, I will rip you apart with my bare hands.
3. If you’re not enjoying the show, get out. I don’t care where you go after you leave, just go.
4. If there’s somebody sitting in the corner, they are there because they don’t want anyone to come near them.
If you abide by these, you will survive Fringe 2011. If not, good fucking luck, if I don’t find you, someone else will.