Ian Cole’s Edinburgh Fringe: The Top 12

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Comedy with a message: Mark Thomas
Ian ColeHe’s back in York after his Fringe marathon. Here Ian J Cole names his top shows in Edinburgh


Today is my last day in Edinburgh so it’s a lie in until 9.30am then over to Pret a Manger for my last breakfast. I’ve gotten to know the staff in here, particularly Martin who had his birthday the day before mine and gave me a free croissant when it was my day.

We say our goodbyes and I’ve a couple of hours to kill before I have to check out of the Travelodge so it’s a rummage through the only charity shop on Shandwick Place and I find a couple of CD’s to buy: Eros Ramazzotti and Tom Lehrer.

I don’t have enough time for one last show so I wander over to the very expensive and trendy West End Arts, Crafts & Design Fairby St John’s Church on Lothian Road but it’s all too touristy for me so it’s back to the hotel for my case and to check out.

I’m still not using the lift so it’s one last hike up to the third floor (it’s just as well that I’ve refused to use the life as a couple got stick in there for over an hour two nights ago). I check out and leave a couple of notes on the hotel’s notice board: one says that the hotel and staff are brilliant but don’t use the lift, the other says go see The Boat Factory, 1984 & A Clockwork Orange.

I fight my way along Princes Street to the railway station and I start to think of my list of top ten shows for this Fringe. I’d managed to see 36 shows in six and a half days which gives me an average of five and a half shows per day (excluding the three shows I saw the first evening I arrived).

In choosing my top ten I’m well aware I’ve only seen 36 out the 2,000+ shows that are on and I know I’ve missed some great shows. Coalition I believe is one of them.

Now I have the list prepared and I find it’s a top 12 and I don’t want to exclude any – so here in Top of the Pops style of reverse order is my favourite shows of Fringe 2012.

12. Half a Person: My Life As Told By The Smiths

This was a toss-up between this show and A Clockwork Orange (No 11). I had a note from the director Alex Broun who now assures me that the technical issues are sorted out.

11. A Clockwork Orange

So you best go viddy this horrowshow my little droogies

10. Re-Animator The Musical

This show is getting good reviews but I was surprised to see it only get three stars from one critic (what was that person thinking?) it’s worth the admission fee just to see Rufus the cat come back to life for the second time.

9. Chris Difford and Norman Lovett: It’s All About Me!

Because I got to sing with Chris Difford – alright so did everyone else.

8. Eric’s Tales of the Sea – A Submariner’s Yarn

Eric made us feel like we were all his mates and he gave me a badge to wear.

7. John Peel’s Shed by John Osborne

Thank you John for introducing me to Oizone the punk Boyzone tribute band.

6. 1984 by EmpathEyes Theatre

Because it’s double plus good.

5. Who’s Your Daddy? Johnny O’Callaghan

I bumped into the producer of the show, a very nice American lady who took it very well when I said the poster was a marketing disaster, she did say she was going to pass on to Johnny how good I thought the show was.

4. Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells for Two

Because I still can’t really believe these guys managed to pull it off.

3. Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre – Boo Lingerie

I met ‘Kev’ while he was flyering on the High street yesterday and we chatted about how good I thought the show was and how he should bring the show to York. He admitted to having to leave out large chunks of the show because of the adlibbing. I was wearing an Eric & Ernie T-shirt and he said he had used them and Abbot & Costello for inspiration.

2. The Boat Factory by Happenstance Theatre Company

This was really hard and should be joint number one especially as the guys have granted me ‘the freedom of Titanic Belfast and the promise of a slap up meal when I visit’.

My number one show of Fringe 2012 is:
Mark Thomas: Bravo Figaro

Along with the Boat Factory this production was unbelievable and will stay with me forever.

So the Fringe is over for me for this year, I’m finishing this off back at home. The train journey was uneventful except for an American chap failing to get off at Durham because the door wouldn’t open (he was late getting to it). He then proceeded to do a lot of shouting all the way to Darlington.


So the Fringe is over for me for this year, I’m finishing this off back at home. The train journey was uneventful except for an American chap failing to get off at Durham because the door wouldn’t open (he was late getting to it). He then proceeded to do a lot of shouting all the way to Darlington.

As a parting shot to highlight the brilliance of Edinburgh Fringe Festival, while I was on the Hidden Gardens of the Royal Mile tour, Jean our guide was in full flow about a garden we were seeing in an elderly sheltered housing block. When a lady turned up with a large iguana in a plastic Tupperware box, she pressed the intercom for one of the flats and said “It’s me! Can you let me in so Rory (the iguana) can have his bath?”

Now that’s not something you see every day and I don’t think it was meant to be part of the Fringe – but then you never know!


Ian J Cole
Ian J Cole is a composer, sound designer and producer who splits his time between writing experimental music and being the creative force behind the pop group Katie And The Questions

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