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So it’s Day 14 of the Fringe Festival and we only have 4 shows left! This morning the gang (bar Daniel and James who are resting poorly voices) are heading up Arthur’s Seat for some wholesome group bonding and incredible views of Edinburgh. If the rain stops, that is.

Getting everyone up and out of the flat in the morning has proved to be somewhat of a challenge over the past two weeks. Sharing one bathroom between 7 people has led us to be late for rehearsals with Caleb more than once (sorry Caleb...!), but for the most part we’ve made it work.

We’ve settled into a good routine of waking up about 10 or 11 before heading into town, either to see shows or begin flyering. We’ve found flyering is most effective in big groups, all dressed in Spider-Man suits. After all, there’s just something about Daniel Ergas’ balletic leaps across the mile that really stops you in your tracks - just long enough for one of the rest of us to swoop in and give you a flyer and our sales pitch! It seems to be working too as we’ve been getting great audiences.

Working out how to stay healthy at the Fringe has also been a learning experience. At the beginning we keenly brought homemade sandwiches into town with us, but now we’re surviving on a nutritious diet of takeaway food - Nile Valley wraps are a particular cast staple. What I think has surprised us all the most is how truly exhausting the whole experience is. Running round seeing shows, stapling reviews on flyers in Fringe Central, and performing our ‘Thwip Your Webs’ dance on the Mile (all before we’ve even done our high energy show) has led to mid-afternoon naps on beanbags becoming an essential part of the day.

By the time the show comes around however we’re all up and buzzing again. Our audiences have been amazing - their laughter really gives us the boost we need to fling ourselves round the stage every night. It’s also been really interesting seeing what jokes play every night, and learning to adapt our performance to how our audience is feeling. For example, playing to a thoughtful audience interested in the story of the failed production process is different to a room of raucous Marvel super-fans. Whatever the room is like, I think I can speak for everyone when I say we are having the time of our lives performing the show every night. It’s definitely hard to come down from the high every night, which often results in late nights sitting on the floor together eating pasta/McDonald’s/Gemma’s amazing Jersey brownies.

And how could I talk about the Fringe without mentioning all the incredible shows we’ve seen?! After much contentious debate, we’ve decided Canary and the Crow, Drink Rum with Expats and War of the Worlds are our top three. I’m going to be cheeky and add two of my favourites, Electrolyte and HoneyBee - both of which had me bawling and re-evaluating my existence. With only four days left, we’re starting to come to terms with the sad reality that we won’t be able to see all the things we want to. There is so much incredible theatre and I honestly feel so lucky that we get to be a part of it all.

Segueing into a final gush, I cannot explain how grateful I am for this entire experience. I joined the cast after their Oxford run, so am still pinching myself that I get to be a part of it all. The group has such a tight bond, which I’d say is a key part of how we’ve all made it through such an emotionally exhausting yet exhilarating experience. Only four days left so we are going to rinse every last bit of fun the Fringe has to offer us. And on that note, we’re getting off the bus for our walk (the rain has stopped!). Wish us luck!

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Next week begins my second year up in Edinburgh, and it’s beginning to look a lot like Fringemas. I’ve now said to multiple (presumably baffled) people that it feels like I’m a child again, waiting for Christmas morning. As I’m writing this, only 7 more sleeps! Can’t wait to unwrap a brand new 9 Hour Bus Journey to Edinburgh.


To step away from the laboured metaphor: excited would be an understatement. At the first readthrough for the Oxford run of Redacted Arachnid back in January, I remember our director Caleb tentatively raising the idea of bringing the show to Edinburgh, and since then it’s been an unimaginably joyful ride. The whole team immediately bonded on a level I haven’t experienced from other shows, and would be lucky to again. We joined forces like some sort of ComedyVoltron, with fewer guns and more obnoxious in-jokes (I’d list some, but nobody wants that). We made a show, together, that we were all very genuinely proud to show to Oxford (in a sold-out run, I might brag). That tentative suggestion of coming to Edinburgh seemed like such an obvious choice for Redacted Arachnid: it’s a funny multi-roling show where we wear an assortment of hats(!) and make jokes about an obscure theatre story. May as well have called the Oxford run our Fringe Preview [Ed: We are calling it that!].


Lucky enough to have Ellie join the cast in May (or as my Mum keeps calling her, Lily), we’ve really tried to take the show back to square one and make it the best version it can be. There’s been role-switches, line cuts, line additions, and cast brunch every Saturday. We’re all been busy people in Oxford term time, so having set rehearsals on a regular basis has made sure we haven’t stopped thinking about the show since the original run. Brunch has been good because it’s brunch.


In the final stretch, now, we aren’t in Oxford anymore (Toto), so focus on the show has been more individual. We’ve all got things we want to achieve on stage in Edinburgh, and having had a few weeks away to work on our lines and our characters individually is one reason it’s really exciting to get it back in front of an audience. Being at home has also meant me sending some (read: a lot) of pictures of my dog in his little spider-dog outfit to the group chat, which I’m sure everyone has loved.






The Fringe last year was far better than I had dreamed it would be, and I’m sure this year will smash my expectations too. I say that now; after three weeks of living with everyone I may be keen to get back home as soon as possible. Who knows! I can say that by August 18 I’ll be in the mood to not see a Redacted Arachnid flyer ever again, dreaming of Flyers Roasting on An Open Fire. See? Brought it back around to the laboured Christmas thing. Maybe at the Fringe this time next year I’ll be doing standup.


James


P.S. For my producer Jake reading this: I was joking about burning flyers.

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