Saturday, 11 August 2012

Hunt and Darton Café – Hunt and Darton Café

The cost of a copy of the Forest Fringe Paper Stages book is One Hour. That hour can be volunteered at the Hunt and Darton Café, newly opened in Edinburgh as of today. There is a list of 20 possible things one can do to get a copy of Paper Stages.

Thing number 8. was writing a review of the Hunt and Darton Café.

The Forest Fringe book Paper Stages is 64 printed pages of instructions for performances, either imagined or for you to make yourself, or with friends. A quick flick through suggests that it is suffused with the same warmth, wit, and either intelligence or clever-whimsy that informs the work presented by Forest Fringe live.

I'll doubtless return to reviewing “performances” from the book here, as well as hopefully some sort of ad hoc report from the Forest Fringe curated book-launch event that's due to kick off shortly, but, for the time being, here is my Hunt and Darton Café review.

It's a nice space. Large, airy, and not over-stuffed with tables and chairs, lending it the appearance of a bar or café either located in a city where space is not at a premium, or which is spectacularly unconcerned with packing in the punters and turning any kind of a profit.

This ethos does and doesn't bleed into the prices. Coffee is £2 for a mug-sized cafetiere (which could frankly do with a bigger helping of coffee grounds than mine had – heaped dessert spoonful, thanks). There are £3 bacon sandwiches. Quite spectacular-looking £5 Roast Dinner sandwiches (Beef, Chicken, Nut), and a bunch of other stuff. I'll post a photo of the chalkboard below.

The food 'n' drink is only a part of the shtick here, however.

Hunt and Darton Café is in fact not actually a café, but a performance of a café. This might be confusing, since the coffee is (more-or-less) real, and the sandwiches are definitely real. They also sell a lot of cakes and chocolate biscuits.

But there's also a strand of, well, something between eccentricity and hipster-irony (Capri Sun drinks – £1). Beyond this, there is Hunt and Darton themselves. Dressed in pineapple-print dresses and with pineapple tops strapped to their heads (fake, I hope), they wander around chatting to their customers and offering the occasional brief poetry recital. I heard two poems. Each about 30 seconds max. and funny; don't worry.

It's a perplexing set-up, and I don't even begin to pretend to understand how it's Live Art and not just an odd café – I shall ponder further – but, on a practical level, it's a decent artist-friendly space in the middle of town that makes a incredibly welcome break from the Pleasance sodding Dome.

The wi-fi is also good.

The floor of the back room is tiled with coloured covers of hardback books

An installation of books with "Survive" in the title.

[All the above was written inside the Café on 11/08/12. Photos author's own. All processed and uploaded within the Café, in accordance with my agreed undertaking for  receive a copy of Paper Stages]


Steve F said...

For your info sir, the pineapples headwear is very very real!

Richard Dedomenici said...

Yes, and the citric acid is slowly burning through their skulls. That's sacrifice.