Underbelly and the Edinburgh Fringe

I’ve managed to get a job working at Underbelly in Edinburgh as tech crew during the Edinburgh Fringe – a month of thousands of performing arts shows at hundreds of venues.

I’ve not actually got my own venue, I’m working as a cover technician, so I get to hop around the different venues at Underbelly Cowgate and run those for a day or two at a time while others are off on holiday or otherwise. On the up-side it lets me see so many more shows. On the downside, I’ve no idea what’s needed for these shows – most have pretty decent notes so I have an idea, but not all! Some shows need opped too, and a couple of times I’ve been the only tech op for a show which I’ve never seen or heard about before. Usually though, if a show doesn’t have their own op, it’s usually a really straight-forward show to run (less than 10 cues, including audience in, bows, and audience out states).

So here’s a list of all the shows I’ve seen, set up for, or generally helped with:

  • Belly Laugh
    • Sad Faces
    • One Hour Plays
    • Punch
    • Leads & Stern
    • Durham Revue
    • Tiffany Stevenson
    • Flames over New Jersey
  • Big Belly
    • Real Man’s Guide to Sainthood
    • Captain Ko
    • Tenderpits
    • Guide to Second Date Sex
  • Iron Belly
    • Razing Eddie
    • You Obviously Know What I’m Talking About
    • Chapel Street
    • Strong Arm
    • Beast
    • Truth
    • The Great Puppet Horn
    • The Lonely One
    • Tom Cottle
  • Delhi Belly
    • Graters: Julian Ignores his Friend
    • Letters to the Man
    • Jessie Cave’s Bookworm
    • Dog-Eared Collective
    • Mark Grist: Rogue Teacher
  • White Belly
    • Spring Awakening
    • Almost Nothing to do with Frogs
    • Bad Bread
    • Oxford Revue
    • Mark Nelson
    • Doc Faustus
  • Belly Button
    • Glory Dazed
    • Doctor Brown
  • Belly Dancer
    • Discover Ben Target!
  • (Top floor)
    • Boom Boom Club

Bolded are the ones I’ve actually seen. Italicised are the ones I’ve opped.

It’s hard to believe it’s nearly over – it’s been amazing, and there’s only one day of shows left, then the strike (take-down / de-rig / etc). I’m definitely going to try to go back next year if I can, it’s definitely been worth it! I’ve met so many cool people, talented actors / directors / technicians, and the team I’ve been working with have been nothing short of amazing :)

Glory Dazed

17:00, Belly Button @ Underbelly Cowgate

‘I’ve seen people whose whole lives are about tryin’ to put food in their gobs and tryin’ not to get blown up… How d’yer go from that to watchin’ X Factor with a plate of Chinese on yer knee?’ Ray’s been f*cked up since Afghanistan but tonight at the pub, he’s going to win his ex-wife back. A darkly comic and acerbic look at the impact of war upon returning soldiers, developed with ex-servicemen prisoners and produced by Second Shot Productions, a social enterprise creating arts opportunities for ex-offenders. Winner – Old Vic New Voices Edinburgh Season.
edfringe.com

Discover Ben Target

16:55, Belly Dancer @ Underbelly Cowgate

The words ‘genius’, ‘unique’ and ‘the best’ are often misused. Ben Target is a comedian. He will be with you for 53 minutes. Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year, 2011. ‘A hugely gifted prop comic whose shows are in equal parts delightful and unsettling’ (Guardian). ‘What a gem Target is… probably the most original, the most over-wrought and most audacious to be seen at the Fringe’ ***** (BroadwayBaby.com). ‘This is certainly an experience like no other’ ***** (ThreeWeeks). ‘Impressively funny’ (Scotsman).
edfringe.com

Double Edge’s Flames over New Jersey

18:20, Belly Laugh @ Underbelly Cowgate

An innovative new play incorporating a brilliant young eight-piece jazz band in a feisty and funny adventure set in a Gatsbyesque world of prohibition, intrigue and romance. Excitingly staged in a speakeasy in 1930s Princeton, with the audience at tables in the midst of the action recalling the same team’s sensational five star ‘Pick of the Fringe’ award-winning cabaret, we encounter gangsters and bootleggers, corrupt policemen, lovers and jazz artists, united in a maelstrom of sleazy excitement and glamour.
edfringe.com

Set in a speakeasy, the Belly Laugh at Underbelly Cowgate is the perfect venue for some underground drinking, the atmosphere is great all throughout the show.

A Real Man’s Guide to Sainthood

18:40, Big Belly @ Underbelly Cowgate

Disemboweling an English legend, Total Theatre Award nominees Milk Presents seek their manliness within. Pedal-powered brute force, elegant lyricism, and a feisty original score collide bringing you the story of St George. In a year of national pride and heroic athleticism, Milk Presents explore what it really means to be an Englishman. Follow George as he transcends boyhood, becoming the hero and defender of all he holds dear. Fusing live music and anarchic storytelling, this is a low-fi spectacular for adult audiences.
edfringe.com

An impressive use of overhead projectors and bicycle powered birdies make up the lighting for this entire show, creating a surreal effect.

Sad Faces Remember It Differently

13:00, Belly Laugh @ Underbelly Cowgate

Journey into the minds of Sad Faces! Witness the destruction of their friendship in one fateful day! Ascertain that they remember that day differently! Wonder at the wobbly cardboard props and flimsy costumes!Enjoy those complimentary and gratuitous exclamation marks! An ambitious show that dares to blend live sketch comedy with a paying audience, everyone leaves happy (or no-one leaves).
edfringe.com

A hilarious show where four friends recount a day where their friendship is destroyed. Of course, it’s not just one person’s account, but rather everyone remembers it differently. Well worth seeing.

The One Hour Plays

14:20, Belly Laugh @ Underbelly Cowgate

The UK’s premier gypsy comedy theatre company proudly present: The One Hour Plays! With help from the audience, our ten-minute plays are conceived, devised, costumed, scripted, musically scored, and staged in only one hour. Anneka Rice meets Art Attack at a gypsy knees-up! This is crazy, zany fun and an exercise in frenetic creativity under unbelievable pressure. As if you needed any further encouragement, the first matey through the door gets a free knitted moustache. Improvised comedy from guerrilla artisans!
edfringe.com

Well worth seeing, I’ve had the opportunity to see this several times now and genres have included everything from Westerns to “Shakespearian Porno”. Don’t worry, it’s suitable for kids!