At Peterborough train station, I waited next to a bag stuffed with miscellaneous bits of Edinburgh shrapnel. The final train of my journey home after a month at the Fringe was a little late. ‘Ill buy a Twirl,’ I said to myself. I bought a Twirl. I thought it would be my last Twirl as an Oxford Imp for quite some time. How wrong I was! In early September I was offered a job in Oxford and so am back for a couple of months. It’s good to be around old friends (and enemies) again, sharing Twirls, and of course one of the best surprises is being able to do Imps shows. We’re still basking, like pleased but slightly dazed otters, in the success of our first Wheatsheaf show. We had a great Freshers’ Week touring many a college – Sylvia and I walked to St Hugh’s and were treated for exhaustion – but we knew that the real test was our first Monday at our original stamping ground. Thanks to a sharp and generous audience it went very well. We tried out a new format this week: the whole first half was short-form games, followed by a 50-minute musical after the break. (Perhaps in ‘the break’ we should get some football pundits to discuss who’s improvising well and who they think will die in the second half, and then stick in some Coke adverts). We achieved a nice sense of momentum in the string of games, including a story about ‘The Fall of the Tory Government’ – they were all up a ladder – but the real highlight was the musical in the second half. A moving tale set in a bank entitled ‘Slippy,’ it was full of weird and wonderful characters, like a Satanic squirrel that only young Johnny could see, who threatened to burn down his parents’ house if he didn’t give it dollar. We found that 50 minutes gave us time to let the plot come organically and smooth out red herrings, so that we could just play around and have fun. Of the songs, a personal favourite was the moving ballad ‘Give him an Egg’.
It’s a nice feeling to be back at the Wheatsheaf having done the Fringe, and I have definitely felt the impact of a month up Across the Border. It’s a combination of feeling both more battle-ready for any audience or situation that comes your way, and at the same time more relaxed on stage. The biggest lesson in Edinburgh that I learned was not being afraid to incorporate the things that go wrong. I get a sense that it’s one of the things an audience loves to see. I know that other Imps in my generation found Edinburgh an enormous booster, and there’s a good sense of excitement in the air. Our co-director has grown the beginnings of a beard, and we’re wondering what will happen to it.
Do come and see us at the Wheatsheaf. We’ll be poking our beaks into some other events as well, details of which will be distributed round town by a series of masked men. The moral of the story is: next time you’re having a Twirl, don’t go thinking it’s your last.