Fringe group arrive to find flat gutted by fire

Lucy Tafler and her Neo-Futurists performers arrived to find their city accommodation gutted. Picture: comp
Lucy Tafler and her Neo-Futurists performers arrived to find their city accommodation gutted. Picture: comp
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WHEN they dreamed of “bringing the house down”, a full-scale blaze probably wasn’t what these Fringe performers had in mind.

A troupe of avant-garde American actors were forced into a desperate scramble for accommodation in the Capital after arriving at city digs near the Meadows to find their first-floor flat completely gutted by fire.

The ten-strong Neo-Futurists team had hoped to take a well-earned rest after touching down in Edinburgh at the end of the 5000-mile journey from San Francisco.

But they were instead forced into a flurry of emergency phone calls to secure beds ahead of the start of this year’s Fringe festival.

Fire crews have confirmed they were called out to last Tuesday’s blaze, which caused extensive smoke damage to the property in Lonsdale Terrace and is thought to have started after a fumigation candle – designed to drive out insects – set a mattress alight.

Although discovery of the fire at the end of a gruelling transatlantic trip came as a shock, the performers – who have found an alternative flat in the same tenement block – are determined the episode will be grist to their theatrical mill.

Producer and managing director Lucy Tafler said: “It was kind of an amazing, gothic, macabre scene when we arrived. The place was smoking, the windows smashed and there was water pouring down the stairs. The walls were peeling and black, completely smoke-damaged.

“For many of the people in the group, this is their first time in Europe – so we came through the airport and it was beautiful with all the architecture, and then we arrived at the flat and their faces just dropped, especially after so many hours of travel.

“We’ll still be writing while we are here so, in a way, it’s been great as we now have loads of new material with the flat going on fire.”

Ms Tafler, who is originally from Islington in London, said her company’s show, Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, would see actors perform 30 plays in 60 minutes, with the Neo-Futurists team attempting to pen an entirely new set of scripts every day.

“Everyone is pretty adaptable and flexible – we have a show that changes every day so you have to roll with the punches,” she said.

Fire crews called out to last week’s blaze said it was fierce but dealt with quickly.

A spokeswoman said: “Crews from Tollcross attended the fire caused by a fumigation candle that had set fire to a mattress.

“Four firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the flat and extinguished the fire with a high-pressure hose reel.”