the warm-up

It's a shame the International festival doesn't have a couple of days of half-price preview-shows at the beginning as does the Fringe. At least the seat can be chosen (for cheapness, if required) and as well as getting a discount through work there was also an extremely rare two-for-one corporate ticket option for one of today's events.

As usual I was definitely well below the mean age of the audience for Collegium Vocale Gent (visited on the basis of their gig last year) and had unfortunately chosen (in choosing a seat away from the back wall to avoid echoes and in the middle of the front row of the back stalls) to inadvertantly sit next to a particularly wheezy codger who couldn't breath without sounding like he was snoring, requiring a shielding hand to be placed behind the ear to block out the worst. During the first half the woman directly to my left clapped as rapidly and loudly as a seal on ampetamines (though handily buggered off somewhere else for Part 2) and the bloke behind as if he was trying to kill a rat between his palms, creating painfully loud claps at random intervals. All better than Chin-Scratching-Man who spoilt two Queen's Hall shows last year. Despite the subject not being anything I was particularly keen on (early Haydn for piano and throatpipes) it all sounded pleasing enough.

Slightly younger and slightly more posh-ass were the crowd for St Kilda: Island of the Bird-Men at the Festival Theatre in the evening (after a day of walking about and a short run during which I seemed to pull one of my arse-muscles, though luckily not in a way which made sitting down for two hours in the evening painful) though any large Festival-event crowd can generally be relied upon to feature large amounts of people doing the image of the theatre-goer no good whatsoever by droning on and on in old-money tweedy plum-swan voices. The show was the tale of the rescue/enforced expatriation of the inhabitants of Scotland's second least-hospitable island after Rockall, told through dance, music, singing, film (featuring dance, music, singing, scenery and acting) and acting, the latter of which was the only really bad bit. There was some truly excellent rope-climbing dance-trickery which could have been a show in itself. As well as the stage and the pit there were performers popping up in the four never-otherwise-used boxes and occasionally wandering off the stage and up the aisle whilst singing. Much of the speech and most of the singing was in French (without subtitles, though the main themes of oiseaux and bateaux were easily identifiable) but there was one woman trotting about singing in Gaelic (though dressed, for some unexplained reason, in a nightie) and one bloke in the filmed sections who appeared to be genuinely Scottish. Interesting enough to recommend and probably elaborate enough to be heading elsewhere after the performances in Edinburgh.

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