Frantic, exhausting and soaking wet - but I’ll certainly be back for next year’s Edinburgh Fringe

Famous for its street performers, wacky shows and the endless flow of creative juices, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a must-do event for theatre fans.

Felixstowe-based playwright and Evening Star theatre critic SUZANNE HAWKES went along.

Its August, its raining – so for any self respecting theatre buff the place to be is the Fringe Festival at Edinburgh.

Hence on Friday I found myself being herded through airport security, my toiletries confiscated along with my dignity and whisked off to Auld Reekie by Easyjet in a cabin space that Thumbelina would have found cramped.

Edinburgh is a lovely city. Tall granite buildings, quaint alley ways, wide boulevards, beautiful gardens, magnificent castle – if it didn’t rain so much it would be the perfect venue for the smorgasbord feast that is the Fringe.

From the moment you arrive there is a buzz – literally there are bagpipes as soon as you get into the centre – but everywhere something is going on.

On every corner and in every available space someone is performing something.

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Where else in the world could you sit at a caf� and watch an 11 year old playing the pink panther theme on a sax (badly) followed by two women hoola hoping, a satyr playing the bagpipes and a man talking about juggling? - street performers, I notice, do a lot of talking.

The Royal Mile is obviously the first place to head to – this is where anyone who wants publicity dresses up as chickens or vampires and bombards you with your own weight in flyers.

You can be offered tickets to anything from a cross dressing version of High School Musical to French miming clowns.

After that its time to pick up the hefty brochure and wade your way through the 2,000 or so entries to decide what you want to see.

Its best to have a plan – my aim was to see as many shows from the East to Edinburgh stable as possible– but it can be quite overwhelming for the newbie. The best plan is to pick one show at a particular venue and then see if there is anything else on there that takes your fancy.

The main fringe venues have delightfully quirky names – Pleasance Dome gives the impression you will be transported to a bad 70’s sci fi experience, Underbelly and Udderbelly – there is obviously a theme going on here, and the Assembly Rooms - nothing to do with school dinners - all contain a variety of acting spaces from the cramped to the subterranean.

There is a lot of lining up in the rain and a good deal of eating on the run – there is always a burger or a hot dog to be found – but the standard of performance seems to improve every year. The festival seems not so much a try out event now but more of a showcase of talent – and although not cheap, if you look hard you can find plenty of offers.

Highlights of my weekends viewing were Nabokov Theatre with The Young Pretender - a vibrant, young, updated take on the life of Bonnie Prince Charlie, The Columbian Circus, Simon Callow performing brilliantly in a monologue entitled Tuesdays at Tescos Menagerie Theatre Four for Jericho about a tourist caught up in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict , Fit for Purpose about women asylum seekers, Shakespeare for Breakfast – a fast paced Macbeth set in a sixth form college and Fast Fringe – 12 stand up comedians with three minutes each to impress.

I think I managed ten performances in all – not a personal record but not bad for three days.

This is my fifth time at the Fringe and after a weekend of walking for miles, getting soaked to the skin and living off junk food I can honestly say its been exhausting but exhilarating and I will defiantly be going back next year .

Edinburgh Festival - The Costs

-B&B www.festivalbeds.com from �30 per night

-Flight from Stansted to Edinburgh easyjet �35 return (if you book a couple of months ahead) and then � 4 return airlink bus to Waveney Station

-Fringe Tickets – anything between free and �20

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