A young girl, about 25, approached us as we stood in line for our first show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. “I have to warn you,” she said, “this show is highly offensive.” As the father of two American teenagers who watch a lot of cable TV I thought: How bad can it be?
“The program says the show is rated 14+,” I said.
“Yea, we rated it before we saw it,” the young girl said. “Once the festival organizers actually saw the show, they changed the rating to 18+. Anyway you should know that the show is highly offensive. And I do mean highly offensive.”
It was 10:30 at night. We were miles from the apartment we had rented. We had tickets. How bad could it be?
My kids have watched South Park. They watch Family Guy against their mother’s wishes. And then there’s a whole host of Discovery Health “documentaries” about people with the most freakishly horrific conditions imaginable. How bad could it be? This bad.
It will be a long time before I can erase the mental image of the pregnant man in full bondage mask being whipped by a band of “lesbian angels.”
Though our first show was an abomination, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival was anything but.
“The Fringe” bills itself as the world’s largest arts festival. The 2012 festival sold nearly 2 million tickets to 35,000 performances of 2,100 shows in 265 venues.
The Fringe averages 1,300 performances per day over 25 days. There are 19,000 performers from 60 countries.
After our initial misfire we were fortunate to see a South African musical about young man who dreams of playing for the national soccer team; a troupe of ten talented performers who put on a completely improvised musical each night; a musical comedy about the days leading up to Barack Obama’s election as President; a concert featuring “Scotland’s James Taylor“; and an amazing circus performed “en promenade.”
We did see one other dud: Joe Power, The Man Who Sees Dead People.
Evidently, in the weeks before the Fringe, a national investigative TV program had labeled Power a fraud.
About 20 people turned up for his show in a theater that sat 200.
Power took the stage to pounding music, then told the audience – “I have a gift, and I can’t turn it off.”
Soon he made connection with the spirit world – he had a message for someone in the audience. “Head lice. I’ve got head lice coming through – does that mean anything to anyone here?”
Sheesh. As if the dead don’t have more important things to talk about.