Not many people can say that a friend of theirs co-wrote something that is doing rather well at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. My friends are not so lucky and get to hang their heads in shame as they admit they know someone who writes not one but two blogs but that's not the sort of writing I aspire to. I, however, am very lucky. Not only was Trump'd the brainchild of an incredibly talented writer I am also able to call a friend, but my friends are so talented that another one was starring in a play of her own, Maklena. With two very good excuses to make my way north of the border, I was very excited for my short-but-hopefully-sweet trip to the Fringe Festival. Having also learnt why it was called the Fringe Festival (it is rather obvious when you think about it), I was excited for my two day galavant to the land of Scotch, Alex Salmond and, of course, the deep-fried mars bar.
Edinburgh itself is a delightful city, worth visiting in its own right demonstrated aptly by the Rick Steves audio tour, which took us down the Royal Mile. There are statues with shiny toes that you rub for good luck, a rather striking castle, monuments to Scotland's impressive literary and philosophical history and, of course, plenty of whisky. It is impossible to forget that there is a festival going on, but the centre of Edinburgh did try its best in the wonderful sunshine that accompanied our last day. The atmosphere must be different the rest of the year, the hustle and bustle of festival goers and tourists cannot be as intense in any other month, that goes without saying. But Edinburgh is striking. It is easy to see why Nicola Sturgeon is so adamant that Scotland should be independent when you walk around. Scotland's past - and uneasy - relationship with England is evident. Putting that aside, Edinburgh, easily more beautiful than London, deserves to be capital of an independent nation, not an almost forgotten city (until August) because London is far more glamourous, far more famous.
But I was not there for the city, even if I should have been. I was there for Trump'd and Maklena, and, of course, the rest of the Fringe. I saw comedy and acapella, was ultra-competitive at a game in the Virtual Reality studio, sat in an old truck-cum-movie-theatre and regretted not being there for longer. The fun lies in going to things you did not plan to see, but allow me a few words on Trump'd and Maklena. I was, of course, rather proud of my friends for the roles in both. Maklena left me slightly unsure about things afterwards. It made me feel - but I am not quite sure what. Brilliantly acted and a moving story, it does what good art is supposed to do: make you question things. I cannot be any more concrete than that. Trump'd is wonderfully silly. It is not hard hitting satire, at this point hard hitting satire about Trump seems almost pointless. Perhaps the only solution is to laugh, because to cry would be too painful and to try and understand utterly futile. Trump'd does exactly that. It is, at its very core, completely ridiculous and succeeds because it does not pretend to be anything else. If you are going for intelligent, highbrow satire you will be left sorely disappointed, but you would also be missing the point. Wonderfully written and put together, it is an hour of your life you will not regret. Arnold Schwarzenegger is probably the star, but special mention to an excellent portrayal of Trump himself. It is a genuinely fun, often clever as well as downright absurd but always amusing production.
If you are not lucky enough to have friends as talented as mine, Fringe is well worth your time anyway. I am already looking forward to my return next year, to enjoy Edinburgh itself a bit more and do it justice as a city in its own right, and take advantage of more of what the festival has to offer. Maybe I can organise a dramatic reading of my blog and call myself a writer, or maybe I will just stick to schepping nachas at having such talented friends that I am certain will be back at the Fringe next year - if they want to be.
The boring stuff:
Rick Steves' audio guide, as with Rome, is well worth the hour or so it takes
Find an AirBNB in the centre if you're travelling on your own or as a pair. Book early and you should be able to find reasonable prices.
There is no Kosher food. There was a pop-up restaurant we missed and Chabad, but your best bet is to raid Pizaza and sushi haven beforehand, take some instant hot food like pot noodle (you can always ask for hot water in a Starbucks) and take some snacks.
Most of the big name comedians will, obviously, be booked so book early and plan your trip around the things you absolutely want to see. You do not need to book every show you might want to see in advance and, as mentioned, half the fun is randomly going to free events/events you may not have thought of but happen to be nearby
All free events come with the caveat of being asked for a donation at the end. It is not compulsory but be prepared.
If you are at a loss with what to do for the next week of your holiday, Trump'd and Maklena come with my highest recommendation.