Festival on the cheap

Just because it’s the biggest festival in the world doesn't mean you have to run up the biggest bills. Move fast and you can see the good StUfi at a bargain price. Words: Allan Radcliffe

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It's not just the legions of companies and performers whose wallets will be left significantly lighter by participating in this year's Fringe. These days audiences have to be increasingly prudent if they're to avoid bankruptcy for the sake of a few Festival shows and a couple of over-priced drinks at the bar followed by an extortionate taxi ride home. With venues charging up to £12 for the hottest tickets in town, the original, unselective spirit of the Fringe is hardly alive and enjoying the ruddiest of health.

One performer nobly committed to putting cheap fun back on the Edinburgh agenda is comedian Peter Buckley Hill. A veteran of some seven Augusts, Hill is best known as the all- singing, all-rambling compere of a free nightly showcase, highlighting some of the best (and worst) acts on the Fringe. In previous years this ‘taster' slot entitled Peter Buckley Hill And Some Comedians has attracted a wide selection of turns from festival virgins to Perrier nominees, an egalitarian aspect which Hill finds particularly gratifying.

'T his year there will be four guest comedians per night as usual,‘ he says. 'l’m a bit reluctant to say who at the moment some of them are well known and some aren‘t. The whole point of the

if; ‘4‘“ in:



show is that the public get to see famous acts some nights and new ones on others.’

Hill will be busier than an industrious bee this year. As well as his own act One Man And His Frog, he'll be participating in a free preview show organised and hosted by his daughter Lizzie Wynn. Given the very real threat of the unpredictable Scottish weather to the Princes Street Gardens main stages, the event aims to provide a convenient indoor arena for companies to display their wares. Like all the best things in life. both these shows will be open to the general public for the very reasonable price of nought.

So, in such a number-crunching market, how did Hill come to be fronting so many free shows? ‘When I first came up to the Fringe I expected the world to flock to my show which of course they didn't,’ he laughs. 'No one likes losing money, especially when all the cash from the Fringe goes to non-performers like promoters and managers. But nothing obviates the multi-thousand pound losses that all Fringe performers have to put up with these days. I just prefer losing it up front.’

I Peter Buckley Hill And Some Comedians Free (Fringe) Peter Buckley Hill, Three-Quarters (Venue 190) 7—25 Aug (not 72, l3, I9, 20) 3pm, free.




Sitting the gold nuggets from the layers

of silt, we present t e best Fringe shows to be snapped up for under a fiver . . .

Omid Djalili: Warm To My Winning Smile

Inventive, intelligent, laid-back and witty, the best known Iranian since Ayatollah Khomenei and with a role in The Mummy to boot. Djalili’s unique brand of observational comedy proved one of last year’s Fringe highlights. Catch him while you can still afford him.

I Omid Djali/i: Warm To My Winning Smile (Fringe) Pleasance, 4—28 Aug, previews 2—3 Aug, 8.55pm, [4.

Dark Horse: Dive Urgence

August in Edinburgh and you can't move for big tops and marquees. If only they were two-a- penny. Britain's newest physical theatre company promises a thrilling new take on traditional circus techniques, including dazzling acrobatics, trapeze and juggling.

I Dark Horse: Dive Urgence (Fringe) Continental Shifts at St Bride’s Centre, 7—79 Aug (not 73), preview 5 Aug, 3.30pm, £3.

Monique: A Little Bit Of French

A spot of stylish, late-night continental entertainment from this Paris Cafe Torch Singer. Enjoy a glass of vin rouge in the intimate company of the chansons of Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel, Charles Aznavour and many more.

I Monique: A Little Bit Of French (Fringe) The Cafe Royal, 5—28 Aug, previews 3—4 Aug,

77. 75pm, [2.50.

Neo Futurists: Too Much Light Makes The Baby 60 Blind

Fasten your seat belt for a dare-devil ride through 30 plays in just 60 minutes. While some Fringe shows will prove an effective substitute for Nytol, the pace of Chicago's longest running multi-genre theatre event barely gives you time to draw breath. I Neo Futurists." Too Much Light Makes The Baby 60 Blind (Fringe) The Bongo Club, 8—26 Aug (not 73 & 74, 20 & 27) preview 2 Aug, 7.30pm, free.

Chris Addison: ' Cakes And Ale

Forget dotcomedy, boy-next-door

Addison's stand-up will have you wondering why he ever lowered himself to risible internet shenanigans with Gail Porter. Expect assorted nonsensical

observations and hilarious everyday anecdotes from the 1999 Perrier Best Newcomer Nominee.

I Chris Addison: Cakes And Ale (Fringe) Pleasance, 4—28 Aug, previews 2—4 Aug, 7.30pm, £4.

20 Jul—3 Aug 2000 THEU