I have worked as a performer for my entire adult life, and it has taken me to a lot of big American cities. Washington DC, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Denver, Houston and Baltimore have all been stops on my journey. I even played a rock show at a music festival in Reykjavik (“Berserking” occurred). This August, I am bringing my play, The Older Brothers’ Almanac to the Edinburgh fringe. It will be my first time at the festival, and I realise I have no idea what to expect from jumping into the Greatest Fringe Festival in the World. Fantasies, both good and bad, have been running through my mind for months now: here are some of the standouts.
BAD: I cannot keep myself from imitating people’s accents at bars while drinking. It is unintentional, the tick of a lifetime of mimicry and Anglo philia, nonetheless I am beaten up.
GOOD: Kelly (our Stage Manager) and I discover the real Wizarding School in Edinburgh (we know its there!). Kelly saves the world. I ride a Gryphon.
BAD: Nobody comes to see our play. Literally nobody, but I demand we perform it every day nonetheless. Zach (the other actor in our play) wants to cancel the shows but I tell him “no, we said we’d put on a show so we’re gonna put it on!” Our resentment grows until we’re just shouting the lines at each other in front of empty seats. Kelly, our stage manager, just cant take the negativity anymore and quits. I get terrible paper cuts from handing out flyers
GOOD: I learn the secrets of the Haggis: the most mysterious meat in the Northern Hemisphere.
BAD: Zach meets a Hungarian contortionist, and they spend their time canoodling on the couch in our apartment. She starts bringing her brother over too. He’s nice enough but not big on showering. None of them cleans the dishes.
GOOD/BAD: We make friends with a bunch really awesome artists from around the world and over the next few years we visit them. They show us their culture and invite us into their homes. Then when they come to NYC, we are too busy to see them except for a short coffee in midtown. They’re outwardly cool about it, but I can tell things are different between us now.
GOOD: Kiera Knightly comes to our show and thinks I’m the best actor she’s ever seen. We go to the pub afterwards and have a great time. She’s so down to earth. So am I. She loves Big Trouble in Little China and Science-Fiction novels (SO DO I!!!). We walk along cobbled streets passing a flask between us.
Suddenly we are startled by bright lights and noise. She cries, “Oh no!” and throws herself into my chest. Her hair smells of magnolia and rain and beer. “They’ve found me” she whimpers.
“Who?” I say.
“The Paparazzi! They never leave me alone!”.
She is like a small bird pressed against me. In this vulnerable state, it is hard to believe she has delivered such “action hero” performances as Elizabeth Swann in “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” and Guinevere in “King Arthur”.
“Schmoopie”, I say (its pet name we came up with at the bar), “Look up. Those aren’t Paparazzi. They’re fireworks, silly.”
Her face turns to the sky, and I can see lights above reflected in her enormous eyes (which have only been given their full due in “Love Actually”). She smiles up at me. The world freezes around us- there is nothing but those dark, deep eyes.
“Richard, ” she says, “I find bald, stocky American men so attractive. They make me feel nasty and cheap…in a sexy way….”
BAD: Donald Trump does something more stupid and embarrassing than usual, and I have to walk around town with fake Canadian accent out of humiliation…. maybe I should just start working on my Canadian accent now.
I will follow up with you all next week once we have arrived and gotten our little show-up.
PS– If anyone knows Kiera Knightley would you please tell her that we will give her a free beer if she comes to the show.