It’s tough falling for an artist personally, before you’ve actually seen their work. It happens to me rarely, but when it does, I carry a certain level of dread with me until I see them do whatever their ‘thing’ is.
For those of you who don’t know me personally, I work in festival management for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society. (None of my views are those of my employer. They belong to me. That’s why they are my views and not the views of my employer – get it?).
In my trade, I meet thousands of creative people on a yearly basis and I’m always developing what’s commonly known as a ‘Fringe Crush’.
A fringe crush is pretty much like any other crush, and can be defined by either one of the following characteristics:
- You find them to be brilliantly talented and they leave you in awe
- You find them to be brilliantly attractive and they leave you with a semi
Either way, a fringe crush is not cheating unless you hold it against them, but it does come with a rather uncomfortable feeling if it emerges before you’ve had a chance to properly assess their wares.
What if this person that you really like turns out to be terrible at what they do? We may not like to admit it, but the truth is, for most of us, we’d generally like our friends and lovers not to be bumbling idiots.
The only thing worse than a terrible performer is a terrible performer that doesn’t know they suck. Are you going to lose all respect for the latest person to rock your world socially as you watch them crash and burn on stage?
Are they secretly thinking this could be the one? The show that gets them signed to CCA and kick starts their meteoric rise to fame, while in reality you are sitting next to their mother in the back row, and she’s seriously contemplating coming down with the ‘diarrhoea’ to get out of the room.
Last week, after twenty hours of travel between Edinburgh and Orlando, I met Erika Kate Macdonald.
She’s a hot nerdy Yale educated writer and performer from Northampton, Massachusetts now living in Brooklyn. Almost immediately I develop my first Orlando Fringe Crush.
She’s smart, funny, interesting and best of all she seems to genuinely like me.
I’m a little bit jetlagged and if truth were known, I’m also a big bit tipsy.
I ask her about her current performance and she tells me it’s a one-woman show about how she started rapping.
Nevertheless, we carry on and have a great night chatting about everything right and wrong with the world before I finally give in and head to bed.
The next day we meet again and head out for more drinks. And the next. And the next. I’m really starting to like this girl.
The next day, it’s the preview of her show ‘Tap Me On The Shoulder’.
I’m confident by this stage that her show will be good. There’s absolutely no way that this fascinating, cultured, travelled woman will be so lacking in self awareness that she’s about to commit social suicide on stage.
I was wrong. Erika Kate MacDonald’s show is not good.
Tap Me On The Shoulder is genuinely one of the best solo performances I’ve seen in a very long time. It’s everything a good piece of theatre should be. It’s engaging, funny, dynamic and poignant.
It not only chronicles MacDonald’s journey into rap, but also deconstructs the art form in a way that makes it accessible to everyone.
There are some wonderfully poetic moments in this show, not least the finale, which brought a tear to my eye and gave me goose bumps all over.
If you can, see it. And know that in the one moment of the show where Erika asks something of you; go for it. Because I assure you, the view was wonderful from where I was standing.
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Barry Church-Woods is a perfect homosexual living in Edinburgh, Scotland with his civil partner Josef. He works for the largest arts festival in the world and makes a martini so dirty it would make Margaret Cho blush. He’s currently lording it at the Orlando Fringe. Today he smells of Armani Diamond and SPF50.