With 3120 performers in 2088 shows this year alone you could be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed by the vast array of comedy, musicals, theatre and general hotch potch of performing arts available to you as you wander the streets of the city. Guided by the gentle hand of our Â‘friend from homeÂ’ we began the weeks cultural education with a visit to the ladies and gentlemen of Â‘One Night StandÂ’ performing their, thus far sell-out, Â‘One Night Stand: An improvised musicalÂ’.
The general premise of this outstanding performance is that there isnÂ’t one. Each night the seven strong cast request the name of the musical, the title of a song contained within it and place in which the action will take place from the audience. Quite frankly this thought terrified me as I imagined bodged lines twinned with grating harmonies performed by American students with an eye to becoming the next Steve Carrell in a sweaty basement theatre. The reality I experienced could not have been further from my imaginings with the audience being treated to a sing song adventure of the highest order. In pairs the performers improvised small scenes with the remaining members of the cast spontaneously joining them as everything ranging from small children to leaping Siberian ponies. The full company numbers were belted out with gusto in true musical theatre style, leaving, me at least, with a sizable swelling around my heart. Undoubtedly the most impressive part of the improvised Siberian adventure was the sheer bravery of the performers, who stand up, night after night, not knowing where the show will begin, never mind end. The sheer number of ideas they must have, irrespective of their quite evident musical talent is astounding and is receiving entirely deserved rave reviews from the collected theatre press.
As ever at the Edinburgh festival the unexpected performances are the most delightful. Whilst waiting for the girls to Â‘pop to the looÂ’ the lone male member of our pack, the media mogul Simon Hepher, happened upon a performance of conceptual beat box acoustic melodies occurring in, what was effectively, a basement theatre. This delightful interlude reflected what is best about the festival; that it is an open soap box on an international stage, where anyone, with two pennies to rub together, can come and be admired by all and sundry.
Then we went speed dating. Which was brilliant.