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Monday, 6 August, 2001, 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK
Artistic overload in Edinburgh
Welcome banner
Let the performances begin
By BBC News Online's Darren Waters

Having just arrived in Edinburgh I'm considering creating my own one-man show about the horrors of my journey. It's called Twelve Drunks, Three Trains and Nine Hours of Purgatory.

After breaking down outside Doncaster and waiting for a replacement train and then being forced to change at Newcastle against my will, while all the time battling against the forces of Railtrack and GNER railways, I'm sure there is enough pathos and bathos to draw the crowds

If my journey to Edinburgh was the stuff of nightmares, it's clear that this city, for a month at least, is cultural paradise.

The sheer scale and enormity of the festival is unnerving.

There are simply too many shows and too much of interest and any theatre/comedy/music/film junkie is liable to be found overdosing in a small venue in a dark corner of the city.

Dancers
Dancers draw the crowds
Ever space, corner, venue and bar is filled with a performance. Not a patch of grass is left unmarked, whether it is east European dancers drawing the crowds on Princes Street or traditional bagpipers in full highland regalia.

Each morning ballots are handed out to street performers to see who gets to perform on specified street corners.

Flyers

Actors, musicians and dancers from across the country have made their way to Edinburgh and gather outside the festival green rooms to wait to hear their fate.

"Who wants three pm?" the shout goes up. "I'll take it," says a dancer from England.

Along High Street passers-by are accosted by desperate artists, thrusting flyers into their hands, convincing them to part with their money.

In the space of five yards I was told to see The Vow, Animal Farm and Viva La Diva.

"You don't want to read that," I was told as I flicked through the review pages of The Scotsman. "You want to come and see Jean Boht in Viva La Diva. She was in Bread, you know."

Rumours

The grapevine works overdrive in Edinburgh as rumours of a hit show or a bizarre show flood the city.

Already Gregory Burke's Gagarin Way is being tipped as a huge hit, just two days into the festival.

Art ad
It's a global event
Centring around three dysfunctional men stuck in a room together it is described as a "cruel comedy about a human heist that goes horribly wrong".

All human life is here in some staged form or other but if you get tired of dance, music, film and theatre there is also arts.

Visual arts always seem to be overlooked at the festival but two exhibitions at the City Art Centre are worth visiting.

An exhibition of work by Sir William Allen, who died n 1850, looks at the career of one of key Scottish artists of the early 19th Century while Australia Dreaming is a eclectic collection of work of aboriginal art.

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The BBC's Darren Waters
"This city is cultural paradise"
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