By David Visick
The ghost staggers into the light, head down, eyes up. The things those eyes have seen. As the daylight finds it, it falters, then rallies and comes again. It opens its mouth as if to speak, but no words come. The face is liquid, the once solid flesh having resolved into a dew. Yet somehow there is still a nobility in this damp phantom. That face, those eyes, the square shoulders. This ghost was once a king.
It certainly was. Five minutes ago, on the basement stage he’s just left. It raises its head, and this time finds its voice. “Lime!” it rasps, in a barely-there sigh. Aware that this hasn’t communicated very much of value at all, it labours towards another breath. “…and… SODA!” it declaims, and deflates from the effort.
I hand the exhausted wretch a lager. “It’s only Day Four,” I say, helpfully. This is why I shouldn’t go to our shows.
The problem is, it’s very hot. It’s hot enough sitting still in T-shirt and shorts in the audience. It’s a lot hotter hurling yourself around under the lights and three layers of costume. One of our cast is acting in two shows, producing three, writing two, and directing one. The other is playing in three, writing two, and producing three. That’s a lot of hustle, charging up hills between venues, from the sunshine to the spotlight, all day and into the night. Troopers, that’s what they call them.
Anyway, they think they’ve got troubles. Three days in I hadn’t seen a single Waiting For Hamlet A3 poster on the streets of Edinburgh. I was convinced some malign force at Out of Hand had deliberately placed ours in residential streets of quiet suburbs in the outer orbits of some distant planet. The show’s not literally in Space, you know.
After toiling on the pitiless streets for, ooh, a good half hour, I found one next to some bins in Johnstone Terrace, and almost immediately another against the rather lovely backdrop of the castle. The back of the castle, the quiet side, the side unspoiled by the presence of humankind, unsullied by Fringe-goers’ footfall, but, you know, a very pleasing aspect. There’s also one outside the Burke and Hare strip club in West Point, a place where stolen bodies are displayed daily. It’s best not to ask how I know it’s there.
As a writer I’m an inactive participant at the Fringe. It’s the easiest job that still qualifies you for a pass and a lanyard. I can float around blagging free seats and discounted drinks, dispensing flyers with carefree bonhomie, while the actors, producers and techs sweat under their burdens. I’m not carrying anything, I’m weightless, I’m not feeling the heat, I’m chilled. Standing on the shoulders of giants, you only feel the breeze.
David Visick is writer of Waiting for Hamlet