Lyn Gardner: My 20 magical moments of Edinburgh Fringe 2018
1. The smell of Toast in Nigel Slater’s Toast at the Traverse. The lemon meringue pie was pretty good too. More fringe shows should feature food. Although it was a wee bit naughty of the cast of Lights Over Tesco Car Park at Pleasance to wait to suggest their pre-show brownies might contain poo after we had scoffed them.
2. The moment in Dressed at Underbelly where Lydia Higginson lies in a nest of clothes and Imogen Mahdavi sings over her. Surely the most meltingly tender moment on the fringe in a glorious show about love and friendship.
3. Two eye-popping moments in Breach’s brilliant It’s True, It’s True, It’s True at Underbelly. I won’t spoil either, but one involves paint and the other Patti Smith. Just dynamite.
4. The homemade ginger beer in Spoon, that lovely bolt-hole on Nicolson Street.
5. The two very elderly women (both wearing hats) looking at the poster for John Partridge: Stripped in Assembly George Square. Woman one: Do you think he does take his clothes off? Woman two: Let’s buy tickets and see.
6. The killer mad monk final 10 minutes in Malaprop’s very smart Everything Not Saved at Summerhall, which confronts the idea that history is unknowable and its truths so easily lost to us.
7. The shifting in seats that ran through the Edinburgh International Festival audience at the start of Geoff Sobelle’s Home as it dawned that this wasn’t a play. And then the way the audience embraced it and wholeheartedly went with it.
8. The four fabulous black performers — Rachel Clarke, Jacoba Williams, Koko Kwaku and Veronica Beatrice Lewis — in Queens of Sheba at Underbelly being brave enough to say at the end that they are all looking for agents. I hope they have been inundated.
9. Cora Bissett in What Girls are Made Of at the Traverse, inspiring a whole new generation of young women to be creative and to be themselves.
10. The fact that if you want to go to the Ladies at C Royale, you have to carefully time it or you could become part of somebody’s show.
11. The discovery that I have a previously unrealised interest in Japanese rope art. Hanna Moisala’s Wiredo at C South is strange and beautiful. It’s the kind of show that the fringe should be all about.
12. Watching mother and teenage son on stage repairing and testing their relationship in the very act of performing in the gorgeous The Ballad of the Apathetic Son and his Narcissistic Mother at Summerhall. You really can’t go wrong with familial tensions and Sia.
13. Sitting outside Pleasance Dome and watching the street performers surrounded by a captive, diverse audience of all ages giving lie to David Mitchell’s mean-minded opinion piece that buskers are a waste of pavement. Mind you, I even quite like the Silent Disco crowd because how often do you see adults uninhibitedly enjoying themselves on the streets without alcohol involved.
14. Julie Hesmondhalgh. No need to say more.
15. I saw User not Found on the 10th anniversary of my mother’s death. Dante or Die’s wonderful piece about grief, memory and legacy could not have been more perfect. Such a delicate, careful show about love and loss.
16. Realising after the show that the brilliant, hula-hooping Jess Love had tried (and failed) to pick my purse in Notorious Strumpet and Dangerous Girl at Summerhall. But she did nick somebody else’s.
17. The art of picking the right person from the audience to participate and then giving them space, time and gentle encouragement. Sam Ward had it down to an art in [Insert Slogan Here] at Zoo Charteris.
18. Booking into see Poor Michelle’s Violet at Zoo Southside with no particular expectation and discovering an understated, unflashy and affecting story of unexpected redemption.
19. The tenacity of those performing and the sheer good humour of the box-office staff, press office bods, ushers and venue staff who, as we approach the final weekend, are still smiling, still being kind and still making sure the show goes on.
20. Seeing a three-year-old come out of a show in George Square Gardens, fall straight to the floor and scream, clearly over-whelmed by the whole fringe experience. I know how he feels.