Yes, the Fringe will be smaller but let's just bring on the bonkers this August - Susan Morrison

A venerable pensioner is emerging from self-isolation. The creaky spine is being stretched, the daytime TV ditched. The horn-buttoned cardi is being thrown off.

Friday, 6th August 2021, 4:55 am

This old gal might be within hailing distance of 75, but she’s hauling on those glittery glad rags, dusting down that stage, baby, and getting ready to dance. Or act. Or sing. Or tell a joke.

The Fringe is back in town – well, bits of it, at any rate.

Carping voices will wail. Oh, they will say, it was so much better without the Fringe. The city was quiet. The buses were empty. Just like the good old days. Well, I don’t much care for living in 1955. Give me the bustle and the shebang of the bonkers month of August.

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It won’t be the same, obviously. For one thing, there will be fewer of those fey wee creatures handing out bits of paper on our streets. The tribe of flyer folk will not return, I suspect. Flyering is one of those things that We Just Don’t Do Anymore. It might never come back. Even before the virus, people were becoming conscious of landfill, and a heartbreaking amount of that brightly coloured paper went straight into the bin.

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This year we’ll mainly be doing local, I suspect. We won’t see the Minnesota High School doing Oklahoma or the Chinese State Opera turning up in the venue I was working in to do their version of Macbeth, which was really good, if a bit baffling. They had dragons. I don’t remember dragons. I don’t remember Macbeth singing either.

What I didn’t know was that they changed the cast in the middle of the week for the junior Chinese State Opera. They were all about 11 years old and incredibly intense and wearing exact replicas of the adult costumes, only smaller. I thought it was just a late addition to the programme called Honey, I Shrunk Macbeth. But, hey, Fringe, right?

The audiences will be local, too. As a matter of fact, most of the tickets were always sold to people in EH postcodes, so not much change there.

This is a great year to find out the talent on our doorstep. Go hunt down some new playwright, a mad opera or an award-winning fiddler. Take in a quiet moment at an exhibition of glass art, learn to blend Thai food or battle up Arthur's Seat to see some comedy, although for that last one, my taste would run to a comfortable seat in a club with a bar to hand.

And on that note, yes, you can also find me on a stage. I’ll be up at the Gilded Balloon with my pal Jojo Sutherland. Together we are the Fannys, and we’re on for one night only, at 4.30pm on Friday the 13th. Yes, I know, Friday 13th, what could possibly go wrong?

Yes, the circus is coming back into town. Oh, incidentally, the Fringe hibernated, but not the staff who actually run the Fringe Society. Shona and her team have moved mountains, and Fiona Hyslop, to ensure Scotland remains the stage for the world’s greatest arts festival.

Yes, the Fringe will be different, and perhaps that’s a good thing. It’ll be smaller, but that doesn’t mean any less bonkers. Bring on the mini-Macbeths, I say.

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