Nick Hennegan’s VERY rough Bohemian guide to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 2022 starts here. With Dr Who and a lesbian breakup.
I’m sitting in the Brass Monkey Pub, on Drummond Street in Edinburgh. And my first week at the Edinburgh Fringe is almost up.
I had a comfortable train journey up from King’s Cross in London on Monday. I actually have a numbered seat for both directions, which I strongly recommend if you’re traveling by train. It can get very busy on the Edinburgh trains in August and there is nothing worse than having to stand for a five-hour train journey. This I know from bitter personal experience!
I walked to my digs from Waverley Station. It took about 20 minutes. I’ve been coming to the Fringe since 1992. The first time was with the comedian Jasper Carrott’s management company, Starward, who bought me here having seen my production of Henry V – Lion of England at the Midlands Arts Centre in Birmingham. At the end of the show, I thought people were running for the door, but it was a standing ovation, and it’s one of those showbiz stories. John Starkey, one-half of Starward, said he liked what he saw and they would like to take us to the Fringe. I had no idea what the Fringe was, but I said yes.
I almost regret it. It changed my life forever. I saw the democracy of what happened in Edinburgh, Scotland in August and I was quite concerned that my city, Birmingham, Britain’s Second City, didn’t have a single fringe pub venue. As a proud Brummie, I decided to try and put that right. I’ve been financially very poor ever since! But it’s never been boring! The Edinburgh Fringe is a bit like a drug. And as I walk to my digs, I can feel the old familiar, horrific, horrible joy of being back.
Edinburgh is a beautiful city at any time of the year, but in August it becomes a world destination. And although the economics can be horrendous, there is nothing like it in the world. Post-Covid, its attraction is arguably even stronger.
I dump my bags at the digs. A basic students room, but en suite which is good. I then take my laptop to one of the many local pubs and do a bit of light script editing before tomorrow’s Technical rehearsal for Winston and David in the Underbelly Dairy Room of the McEwan Hall in Bristo Square. Within 20 minutes, a beautiful, blonde 24 year old woman suddenly sits opposite me.
“What are you doing working at this time on a Friday night?”
Good point. I wondered about that too.
“I’ve just split up with my girlfriend.”
She’s not drunk. I feel sorry for this stranger. We end up talking about who is the best showrunner for Doctor Who. We part and I’ll probably never see her again. But we both agreed – Russell T Davies.
Welcome to the crazy world of the Edinburgh Fringe!