Festival Thursday with stalkers, religion, Phillip & Marjorie…

Thursday, 15th August

Curious day of festing. Bought tickets a while ago for the show Histoire d’Amour on the official Festival. That started at The Kings at 8pm so took the chance to fit in a couple of Free Fringe shows beforehand.

Kicked off with Phillip and Majorie’s Marriage Preparation Course for Regular People and the ‘Gays’ at the Dram House (Fantoosh) at 14.30. From the moment Majorie collars you in the street and you get delivered into the – not so – capable hands of Phillip upstairs as he sets up his ‘technical thingummyjig’ to present said course – you know it’s going to be fun and games all the way. And that’s exactly what it was. Marjorie (small, American, feisty) and Phillip (tall, Yorkshire, a bit useless) are your classic comic double act but are that rare and quite beautiful thing – when you get it right – the husband and wife team. Think George Burns/Gracie Allen or Lucille Ball/Desi Arnaz (yes, we do have to go back quite far!) but here there is no straight man/woman or even a ‘gay’ – that’s a typical P&M joke so that’ll give you some idea… It starts out as as a Power Point type presentation of how to sustain a perfect union with faint shades of scientology about it but very soon we get to the party games and just general silliness. Have to say though – P&M do keep to the script and keep the well-planned visual aids flowing. I know you can’t pick your audience but I think P&M would have a ball if they could organise a ‘couples-only’ event as their comedy really flies when the usual couples’ bugbears get aired (money, sex, family…) but they did their best with getting the singletons involved as much as possible. All in all – recommended for a good hour of fun, fun, fun.

Next – downstairs in the same venue (Sneekit Room) at 16.00 – was The Human Being’s Guide To Not Being a Dick About Religion with Matt Thomas. Now I must confess at the start Matt’s whole middle-class, Home Counties, did-I-mention-I-was-a-graduate? – persona put my Scottish, working-class woman’s teeth on edge. It wasn’t helped by members of the audience – friends, perhaps? – blokes (see description above) naturally – laughing just a bit too uproariously at every joke. For myself I found the matter-of-fact statements near the start about ‘watching football’ and ‘having sex’ the funniest. But do you know what? I stuck with it and felt a right mean old cow by the end as Matt delivered up a satisfying and heart-felt fifty minutes or so taking pot shots at most religions including Rationalism (yes, I meant that). And yes, he did – tentatively, at the end – address that big old Islamic elephant in the room. All in all a bit like a would-be-groovy-agnostic-minister giving you his best sermon. So go see if that sound good to you. And sorry Matt for being judgemental at the start– it’s not you, it’s me…

Time for dinner at Indaba at Tollcross. Have been meaning to go there for a while but it always looks busy. This time got in at the back of five and were first ones there – started to fill up quite quickly though. Not sure why it’s so popular unless the meat and fish options hold some special cache for those that like that kind of thing. Tapas type dishes were pretty pricey for what you got (three thin slices of halloumi on some salad leaves for £5.95? Hmmm…). Fifty pounds for two has bought us a whole lot more – and better – elsewhere. Also change (which had been intended as a tip, still…) wasn’t returned to the table which I always think is a bit cheeky!

On to the main feature – Histoire d’Amour by Chile’s Teatrocinema at The Kings. Now I know that I’m a complete devotee of the FF but sometimes it’s nice to see something big and fancy on a big official Festival stage. I chose this as a good few years back I saw a fantastic show called Cegada d’Amour by a Catalan theatre group which had a similar ‘teatrocinema’ technique which merges cinematic and live action on stage. Cegada d’Amour was a marvellous, gaudy Almodovar-type comedy but Histoire d’Amour is altogether a darker and more challenging affair. Presented as a black and white graphic novel / comic strip it worked well as the super-titles (it’s in Spanish) appeared like comic book text. All well and good – but the subject matter is a completely other enchilada altogether. The story is basically that of a stalker repeatedly capturing and raping a young woman he becomes obsessed with in what becomes a vile and sick game of cat and mouse. Now as one of my favourite past-times is fantasising about female retribution I was pretty much looking forward to when the victim (and yes, she can only be described as such) gets the gun and blasts her tormentor’s brains out or chops off his limbs a la Sin City (which it resembles in places). But unfortunately we are not given that satisfaction – she marries him in the end, has his child and then has the cheek to die on him. What is even more distasteful is the way he describes both her and her family as being some kind of sub-species that he can control – Crime and Punishment-like. No doubt a piece like this is meant to challenge and I did feel exactly that. Retired to Ventoux afterwards to fathom the meaning of it all – it must have been symbolic of Chilean political history, right…right? Any road up – what a downer! Also back of ten and Ventoux had stopped serving coffee – 24 hour Festival city? Don’t make me laugh! Had a whisky instead, walked to the bus-stop in the pouring rain to get bus home.

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