Even if you’re not drinking and going to bed early I am not sure that the Fringe is meant to start at 10am on a Saturday. But for four brave performers that is when their Fringe begins and we went to see them at the Pleasance in The Cat in the Hat. It’s hard to suspend belief at this hour and the whole artifice of theatre came tumbling down for me as I watched some (presumably) hungover young actors try to stretch out a very short Dr Seuss story into a 45 minute play. I realised early on that we’d seen this show before (albeit with different actors), when Phoebe had been under one and back when I was doing AIOTM (it gave rise to the almost successful Farage in the Garage sketches). So I already knew the story.
When we were watching the Cat in the Hat blowing up an imaginary ball whilst the other cast members pretended to be amazed and shouted “Bigger” about something that didn’t exist, it made me wonder why anyone goes along with any kind of theatrical performance (including my own). It’s just some people standing around in stupid costumes, pulling faces and not even actually blowing up a ball. Is that entertainment. The cat in the hat’s white-face (oh it’s OK to do white face, is it? Hypocrisy) didn’t fully stretch round to his neck or ears, which again reminded me, in case I’d forgotten, that the cat in the hat wasn’t even a cat in a hat. It was a man in a hat pretending to be a cat in a hat. I don’t blame him for not bothering to cover all his skin. He had probably not been to bed and was performing in a big room to a small audience and was pretending to be a cat. And also the Cat in the Hat is one of the least likeable and amusing characters ever created. He’s a cunt in a hat is what he is. A menace who turns up in some kids’ house whilst their mum is away and makes them do a load of stupid stuff. There’s definitely something suspect about him and it made me think the slapdash slap was deliberate. The actor was making the point that this was all subterfuge and that this mentally unbalanced and unfunny character might turn at any moment and do the children actual harm. The fact that he torments a fish throughout is a sure sign of his serial killer tendencies.
This production was making me question the whole nature of fiction, reality, theatre, entertainment and the precarious nature of life.
The Cat in the Hat is a twat, but Thing One and Thing Two are fabulous characters. Properly anarchic without a creepy edge that makes you think they might want to sexually abuse children, free spirits who just want to do whatever they want to do, personifying the madness of unimpeded childhood. Things picked up when they arrived. And then came the greatest thing that I have ever experienced at the Fringe (there’s your poster quote guys) the cast started kicking beach balls (actual ones, not imaginary ones) into he audience and we got to knock them back and forth for about three or four minutes. It was absolutely a way to make the show last the requisite amount of time, but it was also the best possible fun. Made even more so by the fact that there were a lot of balls and not many audience members, so we got to hit them around a lot. We were all Things Three to Fifty and caught up in the anarchy, sometimes the balls would hit you in the head a little bit too hard so there was danger along with the breakdown of the rules of society. It was such fun and I’d be happy to see a show that was only this. I thought I might nick this and put it in my show. Why should kids and their sleep deprived be the only one to get to do this? Everyone needs to smash beach balls around for long enough to fill up some time.
Most kids shows clash with my podcast so I can’t see too much stuff (and the kids went to two other shows after I’d left) so it was nice to come to this one, even without the life questioning and affirming moments.
I then headed down the hill to prep for my podcast with Vir Das, which went really well. There were closer to 200 people in today and Vir was a superb guest. It won’t be out until a week on Wednesday, but it’s a really good one, so if you don’t have time to ingest all the Edinburgh content I would urge you to at least listen to this one.