Edinburgh Fringe – Philip Oakland talks journeys, injuries and droll signage

– by Philip Oakland, aka Manuel at Edinburgh Fringe 2018 – and Ray/Ricky in 2017

By the end of August last year, the Fringe Festival had exacted a heavy toll. I was in Edinburgh performing The Wedding Reception. By the end of the run I had nearly been electrocuted by a faulty microwave sitting in our rented flat (we were swift to learn our lesson).

Then, and after taking the making of a Burns Night Supper far too literally, I had ended up with second degree burns across 30% of my body (the incident involving some measure of accidentally pouring boiling food on my body).

Then, to add insult to injury, I had managed to break my toe mid show – I was running round the room as a half naked Ricky when someone moved their chair back suddenly and I stubbed it – ouch! Actually, thinking about it, that was adding injury to injury.

Speaking of those injuries, I would like to say a huge thank you to the police officers, ambulance crew, doctors and nurses who helped put me back together. Special thanks, too, to Imogen Miller Porter and Stacey Evans who kept bringing me ice while I stood in the shower. Not quite how that particular fantasy of showering with two beautiful women had played out in my mind, but much appreciated nevertheless. And thanks also to Jono Saunders for being my knight in shining armour at the hospital, and then driving my wrecked body back in the van the following day.

I still came back in 2018…

So far this year, however, ITI as a whole has managed to get to day 13 of the Festival with no near fatalities!

The journey up in the van was a cause for some giggles, mainly due to the wonderful signage. There was the matrix board, the kind that warn of up-coming incidents, which read “AVOID UNNECESSARY DISTRACTIONS”.

Then there was the sign for “Tweedmouth Spital”, which sounds like a medical condition brought on by chewing kilts.

Finally, there was the on-going battle between the local authorities and the graffiti artists of Shilbottle: and the all-important cross mark on that first ‘L’. I always like to look out for it, to see who is currently in the ascendancy.

Playing the Fringe

ITI has paid me the greatest compliment any actor can receive – they re-employed me!

It is great to be back at the Fringe – this time as Manuel in Faulty Towers The Dining Experience (though, we are a surprisingly similar cast to the Wedding Reception last year with Dave Tremaine and Becky Norris also joining me).

We are sharing our (rather swanky) venue, The Principal Edinburgh George Street, with three other ITI productions: The Wedding Reception (once again); Pamela’s Palace (which is a brand new production they developed this year); and Signor Baffo’s Restaurant (a delightful show for children). I am writing this before going out in front of a sell-out crowd of 130, all waiting in The Principal’s stunning ballroom – which has an amazing acoustic; it is going to be like surfing laughter. The reviewers are in, so wish us luck…

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