The Girl with the Edinburgh Tattoo

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Archive for the tag “Italy”

A Gentle, Shy Antichrist

Can anyone remember when the stereotypical Italian twin obsessions were food and music? Anyone who knows Italians of a younger vintage though will confirm it’s religion and sex. Well… maybe that’s more an Italians on The Fringe thing. And Daniele Fabbri is no exception.

Daniele is a welcome addition to the impressive roster of Italian talent which has graced the Free Fringe in recent years. As for the title – I wouldn’t say particularly shy – he’s a confident performer who was unfazed by the smallish audience (an occupational hazard due to a noon start in a venue off the usual beaten Old Town track). And if the epithet of antichrist conjures up the image of a head-spinning, vomiting demon – you’re going to be disappointed on that count too.

What we do get are tales of a disconnect with his parents, an early obsession with Michael Jackson and the forced purchase of a Papal fanzine. The separate strands being brought together in a neat conclusion.

There are only two more shows left in this very short run so you’ll have to be quick if you want to sample an early lunch of skewered and barbecued Catholic faith with no guilt offered!

(review for 4 August)






Live in the Staff Room (Sex, Fairy Tales, Serial Killers and Other Stuff) – Giada Garofalo

2015LIVEINT_2AThere are a fair few shows on the Free Fringe about sex, a few about fairy tales and a handful about serial killers but as far as I know – only one containing all three. When I first noticed the intriguing title I imagined perhaps a late night ensemble theatre piece with lots of white face and moody lighting. What I wasn’t expecting was a charming young Italian woman on her own – no props – no charts – no Power Point – in the tiny and inauspicious surroundings of the Three Sisters Staff Room. So with absolutely no gimmicks can she hold our attention? Oh yes!

Giada Garofalo starts her show with the sex bit and instead of being all nudge nudge wink wink it’s refreshingly open and honest. From looking at pornography to recounting her early memories of learning about female sexuality she’s marvelously matter-of-fact about it all. Particularly interesting is her exploration of the ‘c’ word and how it’s used as an insult in English whereby the Italian equivalent is much more of a compliment. Also thanks to Giada I now know when I’m in Italy not to say how much I love to eat potatoes…

Not so much time is spent exploring the themes of fairy tales and serial killers but what we do get is fascinating. Giada at this point reassures us that just because she’s interested in these subjects she’s not about to turn killer or cannibal. I guess that’s the point she’s making – that we all have dark areas that we can safely visit from time to time. They probably first emerge in childhood with fairy tales and half-truths told to us by adults in order to protect us from reality. The fact that we want to revisit doesn’t mean we’re crazy or evil.

At the start of her show Giada asks if anyone would like to write down a particular fantasy – of course no-one does and she isn’t surprised at our reticence. It doesn’t matter as the trip she takes us on doesn’t need our input. Giada is a natural story-teller with a lovely free-flowing and lyrical style laced with genuine humour. A welcome respite from all the forced desperation on show elsewhere in Edinburgh at this time.

Review for 17 August

Muppets eat Bologna!

I can’t believe it’s been two years since the cheesy bromance that is Italy Unpacked first hit our screens.  (see my original review below) Apparently there are still acres of la bella Italia to be subjected to the over-ripe patter of this pair. This time around it’s the turn of the east coast which includes (in the first episode) the particularly bella regione of Puglia. Which puts me in a difficult situation – wanting to see the old country but having to put up with the Top Gear meets Brokeback Mountain nonsense of the presenters. True to form A G-D has helpfully offered some ‘essential’ tips for visiting Italy by way of an aperitivo to the series. Let’s see – ‘don’t ever order a cappuccino after 11am’ … right… Apart from losing count of the number of times I’ve heard that one – it’s absolute garbage. Ask anyone in Italy and you’ll get a look like the one we Scots reserve for when we get asked about the Loch Ness Monster. Which makes me think that this whole confection is the worst kind of Italio-travel-porn made for people who either – love the idea of Italy but have never gone there – or – had a city-break or a quick whizz-around on a tour bus. So here’s my bit of advice – get yourself over there, spend a decent amount of time and engage with the people. Loosen up and you’ll find yourself part of a marvelous and maddening family full of the warmest and most brilliant people in the world. And further more – they are REAL – and not bit-players in a travelogue created by ‘The Chuckle Brothers with an art history degree’. p.s. I will watch it but thank God for recording and the fast-forward button!

Muppets unpacked

Muppets unpacked

What is it about the BBC and their fondness for the ‘bromance travelogue‘? Back on our screens this week – a little aperitivo for the chattering classes as they plan this year’s trip to Umbria or Emilia Romagna (Toscana is so twenty years ago) – is Italy Unpacked, featuring that right pair of muppets: Giorgio Locatelli and Andrew Graham-Dixon. The premise is ‘uomo macho’ Locatelli swaggers and sweats his way around the old country, as ‘uomo colto’ Dixon simpers and sweats even more. (What is it about Dixon and perspiring? He’s presented countless other programmes in countries hotter than Italy and appeared daisy-fresh – is this applied neorealism or does Dixon merely melt after a whiff of Locatelli’s testosterone?). I’m sure the BBC is thinking Boswell/Johnson, Quixote/Panza, Crosby/Hope but quite honestly the structure of Italy Unpacked makes ‘The Road’ films look like John le Carre! The action goes something like this: Locatelli cooks up some dodgy dish, usually involving something pulled – Hemingway-like – out of the sea, serves it up to his adoring pal; they engage with some dentally-challenged locals – with Dixon looking even more uncomfortable at this point; they both then visit some nearby fresci, do a bit of oohing and aahing while they play creepy art teacher and naughty boy kept back for detention. They speed off – Top Gear-like – into the sunset, e finito – another one in the can. Where is Francesco da Mosto these days? Surely this kind of travel porn is best done by the formaggio-maestro himself and not two charisma-free dads exploring their mid-life crisis. The campaign starts here: ditch the bromance and bring back da Mosto!!da mosto

If it’s Tuesday it must be the Free Fringe!


Tuesday, 6th August

Made it along to Whistlebinkies in time for the Free Samples show at 11am. First experience this Festival of that typical slightly seedy feeling of sitting in a darkened pub stone sober partaking of entertainment far more appropriate to the other end of the day. First up was genial host Toby Muresianu. Great comic timing and a good line in slightly self-deprecating (American, ex-engineering student, Romanian heritage) humour. Next up the deliciously dirty-minded Shirley Gnome – armed with a guitar and a clutch of filthy songs (‘Masturbation or Breakfast?’ should give you some idea… ). Possible potential for audience embarrassment but with her charming manner and undeniable music talent I think she went down well (I’ll give you that one for free, Shirley). Her full show is on at Underbelly (Belly Laugh) and would be the perfect later night entertainment after downing a few shandies with friends. Last up Will Franken. More lugubrious, sardonic, hung-over by his own admission. After the initial introductions and quick impressions (Stephen Hawking is always good value I think) he slipped easily into his character-driven one-man sketches about – among other things – a surreal journey from London to Wales and Daniel Day-Lewis auditioning against someone with cerebral palsy. He professionally filled in for another five minutes when told of a – presumably more hung-over non-show. Well worth a look at his main show at the Pleasance Dome.

Walked down North Bridge, passed a security van outside the Royal Bank with disembodied voice imploring someone to call the police. Danger when anything like that happens at this time everyone thinks it’s a Fringe act. Got ‘jollied up’ with lunch at The Jolly (three courses for only £6.10 folks!). On to Bannermans for A Complete History of the Roman Empire (abridged title) with Ed O’Meara. Always a bit difficult when the audience indicates that they’re possible history buffs. There is that slight look of terror like that on the face of a supply teacher suspecting that his pupils know more than he does. He seemed to be surprised that he’s been getting full houses – it certainly was the busiest show I’ve been to. Not that surprised myself as history – especially ancient – especially Roman – has never been sexier (not much of a statement, I know!) So with that he might have to up the ante a bit – is there anyone on this planet now who doesn’t know Caligula translates as ‘little boots’? Still if you have a scant knowledge of Roman history and want a quick crammer with plenty of non-offensive, groan-worthy jokes this would be right up your via. A bit in the ‘Horrible Histories’ vein so also perfect for ‘that’ kind of older child.

Next up was Chris Coltrane and Compassion is Subversive. Very likeable, bisexual, London-based activist. Very much in the Mark Thomas mode but not annoying like Mark Steel. As well as targeting the Tories he took a pop at humour-bypass groups like Socialist Worker. Ended up with tale of hijacking a ‘fat-cat energy providers’ conference – ending on a positive, upbeat note. Not a lot of political comedy this year so good to give something like this your support.

Only 18.15 but after a day of sitting in clammy, cramped and frankly whiffy underground hovels belonging to pubs I gave up going to years ago decided to make Antonello Taurino in Comedian? No just Italian last stop of my Free Fringe day. What can one say about him? Quite manic in a kind of Roberto Benigni way. I was expecting the material to be more Berlusconi political but emphasis was more on the Church and poking fun at an Italian Stallion persona. I would say more interesting than laugh-out-loud funny with mad dives into fantasies populated by Jesus, Freud and Dante. However he gets my daily prize for being the most laid back re monetary donations at the end. Also saying: ‘Tell your friends if you liked me, tell your enemies if you didn’t!’ Undeniably Italian and just ever so slightly bonkers.

There you go – quick bite to eat in El Quijote and couple of drinks in Ventoux and off home. Love affair with Free Fringe continues. Keep visiting for more reviews.

Dolce Vita or Ryvita?

ImageI nearly choked on my low fat rice cake when I saw the timeless Audrey Hepburn zipping along the Amalfi coast, Galaxy bar in hand, making us believe that by buying a piece of sugar-and-fat-filled confectionery that we too can be living la dolce vita while at the same time cutting a pleasing figure in those Capri pants. The thing is Miss Hepburn’s elfin beauty was predicated on the effects of WWII starvation rationing and later rumours of anorexia so if you’re thinking you too can get the look and the lifestyle by chomping on a chocolate bar you’re probably just the kind of person the Mad Men are after. Actually, maybe the advertising of chocolate bars is much more in keeping with those heady, aspirational days of the 1950s when chocolate was indeed a luxury and an occasional treat, not like today when it’s a food staple on top of a whole lot of other junk.

But what I find most annoying is the endless encouragement – by advertisers and practically all of the ‘celebrity’ cooks – to eat cake, indulge, eat more cake, indulge some more – is how two-faced it all is. You have Nigella insisting that only full-fat will do whilst turning on a designer heel and dropping a couple of stone in order to break the super-lean and super-lucrative US market. Or the two Hairy Muppets extolling the virtues of lard one week while telling us the next that it’s actually not that good for you. It always seems to be a case of treating us like a lot of clueless plebs – like inviting us to the Great Bake-Off Tea Party to stuff our faces but expecting us to purge and throw up in the portaloo round the back when we’ve done. Maybe that’s why they’ve chosen a departed film star for this campaign as she won’t be able to embarrass the company in question by announcing that she’s going on a diet the next week. These guys – embarrassed? Maybe that is going a bit far!

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