The Fringe

fringe2009This year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival has been a bit quiet for me – I’ve seen two shows so far and they have both been physical theatre. The first one was Chickenshed’s Crime of the Century (amazing) and the second was Flhip Flhop: Everything Happens on the Break (amazing too, and very funny). Both of these shows are excellent and definitely worth going to see. Chickenshed have been putting on some very edgy and socially aware theatre in recent years.

Crime of the Century is about the consequences of knife crime – it doesn’t have a plot as such, but uses dance, rap, hip hop and words to make you think about the repercussions of knife crime, who it affects, why it needs to be tackled and what young people need from society. There have been some fantastic reviews of the show – one that sticks in my mind is the review by Beth Friend at ‘What’s On Stage’.

I went to see one of the Captioned performances (captioned by my Mother, funnily enough…;)) – and it was an emotional whirlwind. I love how Chickenshed just constantly gives and makes you think about things, and makes you feel determined to do something about it or pressure other people to do something about it. The whole system needs some serious rethinking because we are failing the next generation. The government probably doesn’t look very exciting or credible to teens right now – there needs to be a bridge between generations. Theatre can be so much more than just entertainment (as great as that is) – it can have relevant and affecting messages that need to be heeded.

I went to see Flhip Flhop without Captions, but it was visual enough to be seen without them, even though there was quite a bit of dialogue. As a music lover, I really enjoyed it – it was a clever mix of situation comedy, fat hip hop beats, dance and physical theatre. There is something really energising about seeing dance shows – they celebrate the possibilities of the human body and express things that words might not be able to express.

The only really disappointing thing that has bothered me a lot before, is that the festivals are not access friendly for people with sensory disabilities (for want of a better word, sorry…). The captioned performances are not very clear on the Fringe website – they are under ‘accessibility’ but then only a few of them list the specific captioned dates. The annoying thing is that it isn’t broadcasted that some captioned performances are available in the festivals and it isn’t immediately obvious to a deaf or blind person that these performances are available.

I only knew that Crime of the Century was captioned because I saw that it was on the Chickenshed website – and obviously because my Mum was captioning it (also, having been a performing member for 13 years, I know that Chickenshed usually has a few captioned shows in most runs). When I booked my tickets on the Fringe website, I was concerned because they didn’t make it obvious that the show I was going to see was captioned in the booking process.

The captioned shows were not highlighted on the booking page and there were no colour codes for captioned, audio described or signed performances. In all, very disappointing – and if I hadn’t been clued in about the dates of the captioned performances, I would have been very confused indeed. I’m going to email the box office about this and also the Zoo Southside (the venue) so they advertise the accessible performances more loudly. In the past, I have always just been to see physical theatre and dance because it is so visual. I feel cross that I can’t access comedy or non dance theatre – I understand that it’s not always possible, but in some cases it is.

I may go and see another show before I go back to London, so might review that…watch this space!

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