My Festival Highlights Challenge – Day Two

Michael Nouri with Terri Paddock for Festival Highlights, Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Michael Nouri with Terri Paddock

Day Two of my #FHChallenge starts an interview with Hollywood actor Michael Nouri, who is playing the English-speaking narrator in the Italian production of Siddhartha, The Musical.

I arrive at his hotel just as the skies open up with a fresh round of rain. Michael tells me he loves the rain; he’s so unaccustomed to seeing it in Los Angeles, where he lives. And he’s keen for more rain, i.e. more time in the UK. After the festival, he’s got meetings with an agent in London. His dream is to make his West End stage debut next.


In addition to the interview, Michael has to have his foot traced by wardrobe mistress Avril Gardiner. The 6’3” actor has size 15 feet! The largest shoe on sale in Edinburgh, Avril tells me, is size 13, even at specialists High and Mighty. Avril has had a size 15 sole made at Timpson’s and will now be hand-stitching sandals for Michael to wear as the Brahmin, old Siddhartha, in the show.


My first show of the day is Night Bus at Pleasance Courtyard. Sarah-Louise Young has swapped cabaret for co-writing this new play with solo specialist Linda Marlowe, who’s also doing double-duty at this year’s festival by directing Mark Farrelly in two other Festival Highlights shows, Quentin Crisp: Naked Hope and The Silence of Snow.


In Night Bus, Sarah-Louise and Linda play a busload of characters, quite a few of them “nutters”, from surly teens to drag queens, with only a stack of six plastic chairs, constantly rearranged, as a set for their imaginations.


I have a brief break in Pleasance Courtyard before catching Potted Sherlock. This is the fourth show from Dan and Jeff in the Potted series, after Potted Panto, Potted Pirates and the phenomenon that started it all, Potted Potter. And already it’s becoming one of the hits of the Fringe. The queue to get in snakes – like The Speckled Band in one of the Sherlock Holmes’ stories gleefully parodied – around all corners of the Pleasance Courtyard.


The whole show, including Dan and Jeff’s new “on a trial basis” blonde and bubby sidekick Lizzie Wort, goes down a treat with all in the audience, young and old. (And, though this is marketed as a children’s show, I am far from the only one in the audience who comes and thoroughly enjoys themselves without a child companion to hide behind.)


Over to the Assembly Rooms on George Street for the first Edinburgh performance of Siddhartha, The Musical in the evening. My morning interviewee Michael Nouri is joined by a 23-strong Italian cast to tell this famous story of one man’s journey to enlightenment. The show’s high production values – including high-tech projections, sumptuous costumes and big dance numbers – draw almost as many gasps as they steamy orgy scene. With the backing of New York producers Broadway International Entertainment, this is one of the biggest budget shows on this year’s Fringe and it shows.


Afterwards, James treats the Festival Highlights team to drinks in the bar before sending them off with more stacks of flyers. Then it’s off to dinner, to collect my suitcase and to try to find my new hotel in Leith. And that’s six out of nine shows down…


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