Not a lot of pictures as I could not be bothered taking pictures of “hoards” of people.

In addition to people catching the last days of the Festival, we also had a rugby game in town today (Scotland beat France. Yay!), so there were even MORE people. (The game was sold out.)

Anyway, despite overflowing trains, delays, cancellations, and literally the worst train journey I have had in ages, I got to drop my bags and head over to see the first of the three performances by Stephen Fry.

This started with him coming on stage to much applause and saying “Oh, stop it. Stop it, please. Oh, you’ve stopped.” followed by a completely unrehearsed rendition of Happy Birthday by the entire Festival Hall (also full to the rafters). It was really moving.

I only hope it really was his birthday today.

He did well.

I had no idea what to expect, but what it ended up being was SF sitting in a comfy chair and turning into a storyteller.


Unfortunately for me, I’ve read Mythos and listened to his audiobook narration, and the show was basically an abridged version of the book.

The lady next to me loved it, but she had not read the book (and was barely aware of it), and from hearing other people’s comments at the show (all of whom seemed to love it), it seemed like a confirmation of what I thought about the book: I love the concept and loved the way he tells the stories, … but if you’re familiar with the Greek myths it is likely to become a bit repetitive and, well, too simplified.

Again, no criticism on Mythos (or Heroes for that matter) as I think the idea behind both books is fabulous, especially as an introduction for people to the material.

But if it weren’t Stephen Fry narrating it, I am not sure I would want to sit through another two sets of two and a half hours each of re-tellings of Greek myths.

There. I said it.

I really needed a stretch after the performance. And a coffee. And on my way to what looked like a cafe, I got sidetracked and ended up in a very light-hearted production by an unknown-to-me group (which is what makes the Festival so special) of “Tally Ho, Secret Several!”. 

This was pretty much as described by the flyer:

“Spoof of Enid Blyton’s famous adventure book series The Secret Seven. Join this unruly bunch of intrepid explorers as they solve the most puzzling mystery their secret society has ever seen. There will be intrigue, danger and lashings of ginger beer in this high-energy, nostalgic, tongue-in-cheek comedy. Will they ever discover what was in the old man’s mysterious sack? Can they fight off the beastly competition from the Famous Five? Why do Barbara’s rock buns keep getting bigger? Is anyone going to ask them why, for a children’s society, they all look suspiciously adult?”

I really liked it. It was well-produced and so much fun to watch.

However, the best performance of today was Frances Barber in “Musik” (Playbill Review here and Guardian Review here).

Imagine a musical cabaret based on a morphed version of Ab Fab’s Eddi and Pat, with more Pat, than Edwina, … and now add an over-done German accent and pop-music penned by the Pet Shop Boys. Oh, and the whole thing was set in an old, mirror-clad circus tent:

The story of Billie Trix as performed by Barber was fantastic. Her performance of the song Soup (written, as are all of the songs in this piece, by the Pet Shop Boys) brought the house down in hysterics – it’s the story of how Billie Trix, when she was Warhol’s muse, inspired him to a certain piece of art. 😉

I cannot remember the last time I actually cried with laughter before this.

There were serious notes in this, too, of course, as with any great musical cabaret, but in the end, it was a very funny and very moving piece performed by a fantastic actress. I’m a big Frances Barber fan (which is why the ITV version of Christie’s A Murder is Announced will always be a little special for me…even if they played fast and loose with the underlying book), so when I found this one in the programme – a huge piece of luck as there are THOUSANDS of performances during the Festival – I just had to go.

I am so glad I did.

I have more performances lined up for tomorrow and Monday. Starting early tomorrow with a play that was – apparently – inspired by Mrs Dalloway. We’ll see.

This was the George Street festival area tonight (around 11pm). This is not the busiest part of town. These beer gardens all along the street are one of the quieter parts of the Festival, leading up – at the very end of the street – to the Book Festival area, which in itself takes up the entire area of the Charlotte Square Gardens.


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