Liam Rudden: Feast or famine

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THE problem with the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe dominating the Capital’s artistic landscape every August is the dearth of entertainment in the run-up to the ‘world’s biggest arts fayre’.

Luckily, this July, a few big hitters have chosen to come to town, bridging the gap between the Film and Jazz and Blues festivals, and bringing some life to the city over the last week or so.

However, were it not for Noel Gallagher and Olly Murs at the Castle and Madonna’s attempt at shock and awe at Murrayfield, there really wouldn’t have been much else to shout about.

Last week, for example, the Playhouse, Festival Theatre, Royal Lyceum, Traverse and the King’s were all dark for much of the week - first time I can recall things being that bad, although in fairness to the King’s, it is in the final stages of its refurbishment, so doesn’t really count.

And it’s not just the city’s theatres that have been quiet. Even Edinburgh’s vibrant music venues have been in a lull of late.

Next week, of course, that will all change as the annual invasion of the Capital begins and every inch of free space becomes an ad-hoc performance area.

On top of that, we’ll also have the International Festival, the Book Festival and various other festivals from gaming to television, all tagging along.

Come September, everything shuts down again for a couple of weeks as we all recover from those excesses, but at least this year there are some big shows to look forward to later in the month, not least Phantom of The Opera at the Playhouse and I Dreamed A Dream at the Festival Theatre - a great show telling the story of Susan Boyle. Saw it in Newcastle, didn’t expect to like it... loved it.

Edinburgh, a city of artistic feast or famine, then.

Maybe it’s time to take a leaf out of Paul Johnston’s futuristic city-set crime novel Body Politic and spread the Capital’s many festivals across the months - an all year round Festival, now that would be something.