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One hour and counting down, every hour [Jul. 31st, 2009|08:49 am]
Life on the Fringe
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By Phil King 

In "About a Boy" Hugh Grant's character (I'm not intellectual enough to directly reference Hornby's original, just the film version that seemed to advertise poor hairdressing and stealing other people's children) talks about breaking his day down into units of time.  So many units for a hair cut, so many units for watching a film.  Well, forgive me for stating the obvious but there are these handy units already out there; they're called hours.  Some old enough may choose to fill that hour mowing and edging a medium lawn.  Others young enough may spend that hour in a classroom devoting their attention tirelessly to a teacher before the bell goes and they unwillingly leave.  Many this summer will develop a natural rhythm for this magic unit of time - the hour - as it is the exact length of most Fringe events: theatre, comedy, sleep.

This leaves some shows, and our show definitely, with a problem of making longer plays fit shorter schedules.  Normally shows just feel a bit flat if they over run.  We'll be thrown out.  This led me to prepare a carefully controlled rant for this blog until I alighted on the sentence in my head: 'where in the real world would you be forced to get something done in an hour that took an hour and a half?'  The answers, many and indeed various, hit me instantly.  Maybe then the Fringe hour is just theatre catching up to the idea that however creative we all feel when we're involved in it, the final product is a commodity.  Get audiences in, thrill them briefly, send them out to watch something else.  It then becomes weird to consider in this theatre production line most shows will end up losing money.  Maybe the Outens and McGowans of this world realise that Edinburgh is just a money-making scheme if you get your marketing and demographic just right.

It definitely means for us some blood, sweat and fears in making just the right cuts to aid the show, but for some others the joy of skipping round from short show to short show might be just what they desire.  So if you see anyone wandering round Edinburgh with a tiny dysfunctional child with an abysmal haircut, rather than wondering whether to contact the police for anti-paedophile reasons, consider that he might just be the happiest man there.  Enjoying wandering blithely from filling one hour to fill the next might just be the archetypal Fringe experience.

"Killing Alan" will be performing at the Underbelly's Big Belly, August 6-30 (not 18th) at 16:40. Box Office: Smirnoff Underbelly - 0844 545 8252 / www.underbelly.co.uk, www.roughfiction.com

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