This is my third visit to the beautiful city of Edinburgh but my first at the festival, and day one was a wonderful rush! Arriving at the airport and onto the cursed tram, which was smooth and pleasant, offering no idea why it cost over £375m over budget!
A walk through the city to get to Richmond Apartments is a reminder that grey weather does not bestow upon Edinburgh great beauty, but all the same you feel like you’ve arrived somewhere important. It’s a glorious city and the buzz of the festival adds to the atmosphere.
Collecting tickets on the high street ticket office makes things as simple as possible, allowing you more time to develop post-traumatic stress disorder when you emerge back out into the throng of everything.
To the left of me was a woman dressed as a witch banging a drum, a cacophony of bagpipes rising from the east, a phalanx of ticket jockeys. Everyone was friendly – handing out leaflets without being pushy. All around, posters for shows are pasted to all available open space; it’s a fantastic spectacle that can feel a little overwhelming. In two minutes you’ll see more happening than a city would have in a day.
Our first show was at the Pleasance Dome. Adam Riches has moved on from performing a sketch-based show to what he describes as a sport movie on stage. Opening with a mash up of three major film studio themes merged into one, it’s evident that Riches isn’t going to lose his comedy touch, but Coach Coach is more about farcical drama than it is about comedy. The premise is simple, sort of. Coach Coach has a family who love Volfsball, but Coach isn’t any good at getting his team to win, not helped by a player with two left hands. Luckily a new player comes on the scene, able to whip up excitement and passion because he’s… a wolf. The opposite team are the centaurs, featuring a player who only communicates by finger clicks and arm movements and a mannequin. There’s also an appearance by Richard Gadd.
At times, the storytelling gets in the way and shows a script that could be tighter. Some jokes fall flat and others work a treat, but when Riches let the cast roam around the audience, things perk up and chaos is controlled but hugely enjoyable. The ending shows the skills that Riches has for audience participation, his ability at bringing storylines together and generating excitement in the audience. Coach Coach is weaker than ‘Bring me the head of Adam Riches’ which won at Edinburgh in 2011, but few comics could pull off a sports movie on stage that is as dynamic as this. He is a natural team player and doesn’t dominate a show peppered with enough gags to make for a highly enjoyable if not spectacular evening.
At the Pleasance Courtyard Beside venue we caught Twins do a free midnight show. Free is hugely underselling the show, full of quick wit, shambolic sketches and introduced by my favourite new comic duo, Wack and Wanny who the Twins keep trying to kill.
The show is based on Jack’s bucket list that he must complete before he dies (he has until the end of the hour) and through the magic of imagination he goes to Vegas “it’s Vegas baby, roll the dice!” “I don’t wanna!”, sees the Northern lights in Northern England, hunts down a dastardly Mexican who tells everyone they’re rubbish and gets involved with a Pony Club. The Pony Club is particularly sharp, and who doesn’t want to see audience members ride comedians round a racetrack made with plungers?
The Twins have so much enthusiasm and joy in their work that the hour flew by far too quickly. A definite highlight.
Twins at Pleasance Courtyard Beside until Sunday 30th August – Midnight
Adam Riches is Coach Coach at Pleasance Dome until August 30th – 21.45