Edinburgh Fringe 2022: Some Closing Thoughts

Edinburgh 2022 was the first Fringe that The Recs has covered. Editor Steve Coats-Dennis looks back at some of the highs and lows.

The Edinburgh Fringe 2022 comes to a close today so what a perfect time for The Recs to look back on our first year covering it.

As editor, I should first thank our brilliant reviewers – our local pair Chris Berry and James McLuckie who joined The Recs team for the Fringe  and our regular theatre reviewer Iain Terry who made the journey North to Edinburgh. What really made me proud of their work was the comments received from the public. Getting messages saying that they had taken a risk on a show because they’d read our review and were glad they had as they loved the show – that’s when you know reviewing is working.

And there certainly have been some fantastic shows this year. It was lovely to interview Stephen Smith ahead of the Fringe, watch a preview performance of Dog / Actor, to see his pictures online of him flyering on the Royal Mile and now he’s taking his show to Malaysia.

Similarly we interviewed Sadiq Ali ahead of his Edinburgh performances, our reviewer went to see the show and gave The Chosen Haram an unmissable five stars. And now we are looking forward to seeing Sadiq in a new show post-Fringe that’s touring in Scotland, Stuntmen.

Dog / Actor Photo by Cat Humphries
The Chosen Haram Photo by Glen McCarty

Speaking of what’s happening after the Fringe, we were delighted to hear the news that Rob Madge’s show My Son’s A Queer (But What Can You Do?) which earned a fabulous 5 stars from The Recs is to transfer for a West End run at the Garrick Theatre. A well deserved success.

One of the nicest things was hearing from the performers after we reviewed their show. The Recs were the first to give the wonderful and unique Mythos: Ragnarok its first fringe review. Not only were they lovely in response to us, we absolutely adored the emotional thanks that main cast member and group lead Ed Gamester would give to audiences at the end of a performance. Definitely an ensemble with a great attitude who have made quite an impact on this Fringe.

A favourite theatre maker of The Recs, Sarah-Louise Young brought not one but two shows to the Fringe: the returning An Evening Without Kate Bush and a striking new performance, The Silent Treatment. Both earned deserved five-stars reviews but it was glorious to see Sarah-Louise constantly been so supportive of other Fringe performers throughout the month. A generous spirit that enhances the Fringe.

Rob Madge in My Son's a Queer. Photo by Mark Senior
Mythos: Ragnarok - image by Alistair Veryard Photography
The Silent Treatment - image by Steve Ullathorne

The Fringe also offered us the dubious opportunity to The Recs to award its first ever two-star review. As a review site, we always aim to be constructive and look for the positives. And in the case of the Fringe, we certainly aim recognise the massive effort of performers and producers actually to stage anything at the Edinburgh Fringe given the ever-escalating costs to perform. Our critical review was not given lightly and we discovered it takes much longer to write a bad critique than it does to pen a rave review.

Helpful Hints for Next Year

Looking forward to next year’s Fringe, we thought it might be helpful to would-be performers, producers and press teams to offer some handy advice that could stand you in good stead for approaching review publications such as ours.

 – It’s never too early to say Hello

We plan our Fringe early. If you are contacting us for the first time in the middle of Week One, you are almost certainly too late. June is good! It’s before we get inundated and emails / messages slip through the net. It’s the time when we really start looking at the shape of our Fringe so a great time to ping on our radar. 

 – Don’t be a Stranger!

You might just be planning a show for the Fringe but The Recs exists all year round. If you are someone who follows us, interacts with us during the year, we will get to know who you are. What you do, what you are planning will already be noticed by us. All things being equal we are more likely to review a show / performers who have shown an interest in us than a brand new contact.  

 – A Picture tells a Thousand Words

This has been a personal peeve of mine this year. Most review site need an image. The Recs in particular likes visuals. So *starts shouting through a megaphone* give your pics to your venue’s press department or whoever is looking after your press. Especially put the link to your images folder in your press release. Make my job easy. There is no point in having a fantastic show that you’ve put everything into making it brilliant only for you not to use every potential tool available and handy to promote it.

If you were to ask me ideally what I would love to be in your high-res images folder, it would be the following. A version of your poster in landscape and portrait without text. Some production photos or if you are a standup then any images of you in action as well as any studio portraits. I would like at least one in your collection to have some clean space on it where a quote in our rave review about your show can go. 

 – It’s Not Personal

One thing that really stood out covering this year’s Fringe is that there are so many amazing shows that we simply do not have the ability to cover. Very much like potential audiences, we look at what’s on offer – yes I did read to the very end of the Fringe guide, didn’t want to be discriminatory towards shows beginning with Z – and certain shows will just stand out. Some because of personal taste, some because the subject matter intrigues you, and some because you’ve never heard anything like it before (Mythos Ragnarok aka Norse mythology told through the medium of wrestling is the kind of stops-you-in-your-tracks concept that is irresistible to review editors). As editor, it’s my aim to give our coverage balance so it may be that we have already committed to other shows in your genre. This year we had to turn some circus shows down, not because we didn’t think they’d be brilliant but because we were already featuring quite a few.  

 – Oranges are not the Only Fruit and Reviews are not the Only Route

If you’ve hit a dead end trying to get reviews, that doesn’t mean that our door is closed. A self -write (a piece that you write yourself like a blog or diary entry) could be a way of getting featured in The Recs. There are lots of guest articles I would be happy to feature – my inbox is always open so if you have an idea of something that you think Recs readers would be interested in, something about your Fringe experience is uniquely yours, we’d be happy to discuss it. Those type of articles would get you the same level of coverage as a review… 

That just leaves me to say thank you, our readers, for giving our Fringe 2022 coverage your attention. And let’s see what next year in Edinburgh brings!