Monday, 6 August 2007

Pining for the Fringe

Still another week before I get to Edinburgh, but there are advantages in this. Not least that I can keep an eye on the early coverage. Which looks like it could be a full-time occupation this year with the broadsheets' online features looking more fulsome than ever before.

The Guardian, as the natural paper of most Fringe performers, has an eviable variety of guest writers and contributors including an ongoing story written an episode at a time by various comics, a blog by Mark Ravenhill on his premiere-a-day show Ravenhill For Breakfast and a daily podcast from critic Brian Logan and comedienne (-ette?) Lucy Porter.

Interestingly, the Telegraph's coverage is easily comparable - and benefits from a slightly more user-friendly design with the features mixed in with the reviews, allowing for a slightly more potted read. Of course, being the Telegraph, it also offers some excellent examples of philistine harrumphing and a picture of Stewart Lee (accompanying a charming interview) labelled "Stewart Lee studied English Literature at Oxford University" like a justification to the paper's normal constituency for its inclusion ("Why's this chap here, eh? Studied at Oxford, did he? Capital fellow, then. Spendid. Carry on...").

The Times online's stuff, once the sodding page has loaded, isn't especially impressive (my own tiny contribution to the NSDF stuff notwithstanding). The news report on the international festival is standard journalism at its press conference-attending best, while the lead article is little more than a collection of half-minute phone interviews based on a handful of flyers and virtually no connection to its initial premise.

The Independent's coverage is a characteristically sloppy mess: badly laid out, uninspiring, and, in the case of a non-story report on Ricky Gervais charging a lot for tickets managing to make the schoolboy error of confusing the Fringe with the International Festival.

And of course the Fringe wouldn't be the Fringe without Ian Shuttleworth from the Financial Times seeing more shows than all the other critics put together in his frankly masochistic, Salo-like efforts to see every damn thing out there.

7 comments:

Statler said...

Definitely an advantage to hang on until after the first week. Our own coverage started yesterday (needing to take advantage of the 2 for 1 ticket offers!) but perhaps because of the rain, Edinburgh just didn't feel like it was quite 'up for it' yet. I'm sure by the time you arrive things will be more uo and running, and like you say, after poor reviews you may be able to score a few shows off your 'to see' list.

View From The Stalls

Andrew Haydon said...

It's raining? Tell me more - my schadenfreude knows no bounds :-)

I guess it's a double edged sword - yes, I expect that the aggregate reviews on some shows will pretty much save me some effort - but at the same time while I'm playing catch-up I won't be discovering anything for myself. Ho hum.

Will now go and see if you've got any early front-runners...

Ewan Spence said...

And don't forget the indie coverage on the internet, which gives me a chance to mention my daily BAFTA nominated podcast, now in its third year! http://edinburghfringe.thepodcastnetwork.com/

Statler said...

Back in Edinburgh today and I can confirm that not only was it pleasantly sunny, but the Fringe is definitely now up to speed with the expected level of flyering on the Royal Mile, complete overload of tartan-tat, and the ridiculously inflated prices for food/drinks. Gotta love it...

Ian Shuttleworth said...

V flattering, but Lyn Gardner's show totals regularly knock mine into a cocked hat. Mind you, these days she has Maxie Szalwinska and her own daughter as scouts, whereas I covered the entire waterfront single-handedly. A total of 103 isn't so impressive, and when you discount duplicates (three editions of the comedians' quiz show We Want Answers!, going back to The Table) and a side-trip to bath and Stratford, it's only 94 different Edinburgh shows actually seen.

Shut up, Ian, and take the compliment...

Andrew Haydon said...

We *Need* Answers - hence mis-hearing of the Festival - "You're going to see Weeny Dancers?"

Ian Shuttleworth said...

D'oh! Back mere hours, and already the memory fades and I assume the whole world is set up like "The Prisoner"...

I should really have remembered, given that a) I kept going back to it and b) Alex Horne (he's Horney, Horney, Horney) had, of course, a PowerPoint animation of a line of precisely such weeny dancers...