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DarkChat - Reviewing the Edinburgh Fringe since 2008


Do You Remember the First Time?



Continuing our new series celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Edinburgh Fringe and DarkChat's own 10th Anniversary we've invited a selection of people connected to the festival to provide their memories of their first festival.   If you missed part one or two you can catch up here.



First we spoke to Fringe veteran Mark Thomas. Our own DarkChat veterans Dave and Anne first saw Mark in Edinburgh 25 years ago when the Perrier nominated acts all performed on the same show. "In a stellar year, he along with Jo Brand, Bruce Morton and John Shuttleworth lost out to Steve Coogan and John Thomson but it is a night we have never forgotten"!


This year Thomas is bringing 'A Show That Gambles on The Future' to Summerhall at 6pm throughout the festival, but here he remembers when he came for the first time.


First time I came to the Edinburgh festival I was 19 and a drama student with my then girlfriend. The 4 things I really remember;


1. The playground behind the Fringe Office was used as a street performance

area and I completely loved standing amongst the tenements in this little sun trap

watching performers.


2. Ubu Roi performed by students. After15 mins  we tried to sneak out in a

blackout, we must have bumped into half the audience in the aisle on the rush to

the door and instead of being embarrassed (as you would normally expect) people

were laughing and shoving and someone loudly said “Hurry before the buggers

come back on”.


3. Going to see 7:84 Scotland perform in Edinburgh Bus Station canteen. They did

a version of the Good Soldier Schweik originally by Brecht. I remember sitting next

to these older women from Edinburgh giggling away at a scene where Schweik

gets out of a tin bath naked. Great show. Quite remarkable that a really great

theatre show was in a bus station canteen.


4. I remember being frightfully in love and tho’ both of us have moved on we see each other occasionally and I still enjoy the thought of us at the Edinburgh festival and thinking it the height of being a bohemian.





Oddly, our DARKCHAT memories of Andrew O'Neill are of him being in a show but also not being in a show.


In 2010 we loved 'musical Andrew' in "The Men Who Will Be Blamed For Nothing"

and had then hoped to see 'comedy Andrew' 2 years later performing with his

musical colleague Marc Burrows. On the night we went Andrew had a better offer

so was unavailable but Marc filled the slot with other acts. One was Wil

Hodgson (see below) and the other was Rob Auton who we have followed (stalked)

ever since. So, thanks for that Andrew. Here are his 1st memories:


Comedians are inherently inventive. They're also inherently lazy. So being in charge of

getting a team of twenty comedians to flyer for the compilation show we were doing

back in 2003 was an education in inventive lies. Fictional children fell suspiciously ill,

ankles wrenched, old friends came in from out of town. Rhod Gilbert contracted Mad

Cow disease, Matt Kirshen was diagnosed with rickets and Marek Larwood had to fly to

Brazil to rescue his niece from a volcano. Only Wil Hodgson was left to heroically pound

the street with his pink mohawk and leopard print winkle-pickers.


The show was a sell-out.


You can see Andrew this year perform his Black Magick Fun Hour - Free at The Liquid Rooms Annexe at 5pm.





DarkChat (sadly) have no Edinburgh memories of the wonderful Monica Dolan but

being Welsh based we loved her Welsh character in WIA.  This  year she will be

bringing her debut show 'The B*easts' to Underbelly, Cowgate giving us a chance

to put that right.


Here are her first recollections:


I first went to the Fringe as a punter at the age of 14 or 15 with my brother and a

friend of his. We travelled up on the coach overnight from Victoria - an eleven hour

journey I think! - and tried to sleep on the way up - pretty impossible, but the

discomfort was part of the challenge, and that proved to be the story of the whole



We stayed on a campsite which was a bus ride into the city and it rained hard the whole of the first night, so I am afraid most of my memory is of being soaked and in wet clothes all the time and our things hanging on top of the tent to dry. I still enjoyed every minute of it. We would go into the city in the morning and sit in a cafe with the brochure - no apps in those days! - and choose what to see before hot-footing it around for the rest of the day.


I remember seeing lots of comedy and always having to rush out at the end of one

show to make it (usually late) to the next one. We fell in love with a little free puppet-show

which was on in one of the squares at midday every day and would always make it in in

time for that. The 'puppets' were all made from small sponges in different colours and

they would perform five minute miniature versions of epic stories such as "Gone With The

Wind". My favourite moment was when they did the burning of Atlanta with the flame from

a single cigarette lighter. Unforgettable."

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