Edinburgh Diary Number 5 and a half!

Scotsman Review

The Scotsman ★★★★

Sorry but we got a lovely half a page in the Scotsman … a really nice review which I will send the link to when it goes online but I thought it was worth mentioning it as soon as possible for people here in Edinburgh who have children and are wondering what to do with them this weekend … wonder no more!

Assembly, George Square Gardens at 12.50 … be there or be Un-Nogged!


Edinburgh Diary … number 5

★★★★★ Three Weeks

★★★★ The Independent

★★★★ The Stage

★★★★ The List

★★★★ Broadway Baby

Nogbad Spies

Nogbad the Bad searches for more 5★ reviews.

Below are links to various reviews:





Can’t find a link to the independent review … so here’s a photo of it …

Independent Review

Alright, trumpet blowing complete.

What have we been up to since last we met?

Well, we have all, of course, been battling against the Edinburgh summer … and at times losing. I got trench foot from wearing damp socks, and snuffles and sniffles have been appearing due to the ridiculous summer clothing we brought into the arctic bluster of Edinburgh in August. Despite all that we have had a lovely time. We have seen theatre good and appalling, comedy funny and otherwise, dance of beauty and downright poor and we have all so far got a favourite. I’m not telling yet, it isn’t really fair!

I’ve had a few disappointments … waiting at Summerhall twenty five minutes for a ticket only to be told that that particular show is sold out … surely not difficult to write on a blackboard which shows are sold out so as not to force people to wait twenty-five minutes for a show that is sold out! I’ve listened to some great music; much of it free in the streets and there is, of course, a fabulous atmosphere in the city. I have seen unicyclists, jugglers, nurses, mimes, clowns, zombies, tarts and vicars, aliens and voca people … and that is whilst just popping for a coffee. I’ve walked a few hundred yards and been given a few hundred flyers … I’m always nice, I always take a flyer and usually have a chat with the flyerers … it is a fairly dispiriting task when no-one takes a flyer and so many people are just downright rude. The funniest ones though are the ones that pretend you are not there … they walk up to you, they can’t not have seen you and then just ignore you totally when you try to engage with them … they make I laugh!

I went to the circus last night … the NoFitState circus … unbelievable … incredible … do go and see it, it is a masterpiece of energy, skill, inventiveness and sheer brilliance in its design and conception … well worth a few of your coins of the realm! It is mesmerising!

Snogging the Snog: Noggin and Nooka of the Nooks.

Snogging the Snog: Noggin and Nooka of the Nooks.

The Sagas of Noggin the Nog is going from strength to strength … we have a great routine in setting up … we can do it in about twelve minutes … set/costumes/projectors/puppets, the lot. Not bad really and the getting out is even quicker!

For those people who have seen the show and are looking to book it into their venue or for their event … the play here in Edinburgh is slightly truncated … we had to fit it into an hour slot. The full length show is about 70 to 75 minutes and we play it with an interval of 15 to 20 minutes, so it is a full length play for families. 90 minutes in all.

I have read a lot of tosh about how Edinburgh is ruining touring theatre … of course it isn’t sillies! Every professional theatre company that tours regularly understands how theatre works … we know what venues want and we know what audiences want. To suggest that theatre companies aren’t clever enough to make a piece of theatre that plays at the Edinburgh Fringe and can then play to arts centres, theatres and other venues around the country, is very demeaning to those professional companies that have made their livings from touring … we know how it works … that is what we do, so please don’t be so condescending and superior to professional touring theatre. The very idea that Edinburgh is forcing companies to create shows that can only be performed at Edinburgh is quite, quite pathetic and could only have been suggested by someone who (excuse me for this) has their head up their own arses!

Anyway, mild rant over … we have a few more days left here in “sunny” Edinburgh, so don’t wait too long to book your ticket. See you in George Square Gardens at 12.50 every day!

Edinburgh Diary Number … 4

Nogs in the Rain 1

There is a bit of a theme here as you can see … the theme is moisture … quite cold moisture coming from the sky! And quite a lot of it!

Yesterday (Sunday 10th August) there was a huge amount of it; it seeped down necks, into shoes and up careless sleeves. Just as we were about to do our get-in for todays show, which we have to do in about fifteen minutes, the heavens opened, the sky cracked and the thunder thundered. Loudly! We splashed through water with barrels and boxes, puppets and props. We paddled across the stage and slipped and skidded like swans on an ice covered lake as we tried to lift the main part of our set. There was a waterfall coming through the centre of the roof … just where we put one of our two projectors. A message was sent and received and within two minutes two of the Assembly team turned up with a ladder (we had the same problem a few days ago which I think I’ mentioned in the Edinburgh Diary a while ago). One of the team shinned up a ridiculously tall ladder and armed with bits of material and gaffer tape, staunched the flow. The space was mopped, the projectors set and turned on and in came the audience.

It is a funny thing when there is a bit of a panic: a Dunkirk spirit seems to enter all involved. The first two minutes of the performance were quite difficult because of the unbelievable noise coming from the roof of the tent. The tent has wooden sides, a wooden floor and a canvas roof with a little dome on the top which acts as a vent to let hot air escape … it also, apparently, lets in wind blown water. The canvas roof performs a little like a drum … with us and the audience sitting inside it. So the first few minutes of the play sounded as though three hundred Ginger Bakers were belting away at a snare-drum. We talked very loudly and added a few little jokes in about the noise, water, etc. The audience, which was a remarkably large audience for such a miserable day, hunkered down in their seats and decided to go with us and enjoy whatever happened next.

Nogbad Spies

Nogbad the Bad looks for where the next wave of rain will come from!

Monday … we had a day off. The first for a few weeks. I had intended to do all sorts of things … I did nothing but read a book, watch a black and white film or two, doze and eat. I was a tired bunny and the weather wasn’t that conducive to going out and having fun. It was the first time in weeks that I’ve managed to have a really lazy day. I did, after a couple of small glasses of beer at The Caley Sample Room, start to think about theatre, other projects, re-inventing one’s self, searching for new audiences, finding new ways of doing things, and on and on … this is, I think, one of the exciting things about coming to the Edinburgh Fringe. There are so many people up here doing great things that it makes you want to create new work, and little conversations here and odd visual stimuli there begin to get your creative juices flowing and, more importantly, make you question your own methods and ways of working. All kinds of new thoughts came rushing in … these are still going round and round my head today.

Tuesday 12th August … funnily it rained again today … and the wind blew but still we had a lovely and quite big audience, which for a wet Tuesday was very pleasing. Tony and I then went to a discussion about touring theatre for young people internationally at the Summerhall venue. It was interesting though I’m not sure I learned a great deal that was new … but it was great to meet other practitioners and talk about each others work over a glass or two. So thank you to all at Imaginate and the others on the discussion panel.

Tomorrow is another day … and another wet day I suspect, though it has been promised that the rain will be warmer tomorrow!





Edinburgh Diary Number 3

Umbrella 1

I think this sort of sums up this week so far.

It has been a typically glorious few days here in Edinburgh. The sun has shone. The rain has rained. The wind has blown. Four seasons in one day. And much fun has been had by the Noggin the Nog team. I have seen a number of great pieces of theatre and I’ve seen a couple of dogs … but bizarrely the dogs received 5* … I swear I don’t understand the star system. In my mind, 5* should be reserved for the very best; something that is well-crafted, brilliantly performed, cleverly written, etc … the two dogs were none of these things … ho hum! I don’t want to appear grumpy because I am actually having a fab time … though it is hard work.

Jolly man carries Flyers

Look … here is a jolly man delivering Noggin the Nog flyers. We have thousands of them and have been out most days (dodging into cafes when the rain rains) handing fliers to jolly people, people who remain cool even though they really want a flyer, people who are down-right rude and some who pretend you are not there … they are the funniest! We have flyered in the morning in the George Square gardens … we have flyered in the afternoon … along the Royal Mile, around the other venues, we have exit-flyered … flyering people as they come out of a show that has a similar demographic to us and … flyered in the evening … in the streets, in the gardens, at the venues and in my lady’s chamber (actually we haven’t done the last one).

Royal Rainy Mile 2

This was the scene this afternoon on the Royal Mile … lots of people being jolly in the rain!

Yesterday we had a lovely performance with a really great audience (and, thankfully, quite a lot of them) including Alix and Mal and Frances and Herbie … friends of mine who are brilliant at supporting everyone … so thank you so much you four.

Today’s show, Black Wednesday, was much quieter, though a really lovely audience … I enjoyed the show very much, which is a part of the point of doing what I do.

So, I hear you say, of the shows that you have seen so far … what is the high point?

Well, I answer, for me, “Title and Deed” by Will Eno has been the high-point. A beautiful, intelligent, beguiling one man performance … just a man talking to us … mesmerising. It was, I suppose, philosophical and thought-provoking and witty and … if you get the chance to see him … do! I sat next to Lynne Gardener from the Guardian and in front of Mark Lawson … I mentioned Noggin quite a few times but I’m not sure the bait was taken.

Anyway, tonight we are going to a meet the Assembly team … we’ve met most of them but this is a bit less formal and a bit more … well … we might have a drink together. So, I had better go and put my slap on and brush my flowing locks.

Come back soon!

Edinburgh Diary Number 2

Queen G and Ignora

I thought I’d start with a picture of Queen Grunhilde the Lazy One and her trusty maid, Ignora, for no other reason than I quite like it … as indeed do lots of Edinburgh people now. We had a lovely performance today (Monday 4th August) with almost a full-house. The flyering is paying off perhaps. But … I’m rushing into things … I haven’t told you about Saturday yet … the trouble is there is so much happening up here, so many things going on all around us … I can’t remember a thing about Saturday. Oh, I went to see a show at Assembly Roxy … but I didn’t enjoy it so I won’t mention which one it was. It also rained on Saturday … and Sunday … and, indeed, today … but at least today the rain is quite warm … though it was lashed into our faces by a fairly strong wind. The sun has come out now and George Square Gardens are delightful in the sun.


This is actually a photo of the gardens and the bar in slightly less than clement weather but imagine it with the sun shining and you’ll see what I mean. There are loads of people around enjoying the buzz. Unfortunately I am hobbling around with a slightly gammy ankle … just the general wear and tear of age sadly. So I’ve wandered into the Assembly Cafe, put my foot up and looking helpless towards people who I hope will wander over and see if I want a cup of tea … I won’t hold my breath.

Sunday Night I went to see Gavin Robertson doing his “Bond” show … which I can thoroughly recommend; clever, witty, technically brilliant and … a charming evening was had by all … do go and see it if you get the chance.

During the day yesterday I spent hours walking around Edinburgh handing out flyers … hundreds of them … and dodging the rain. Lorks a mussy it rained … spent lots of time under awnings with rain dripping down my neck and then leaping out in front of unsuspecting families and shoving a bit of papier-mâché into their hands. All were charming … except for the ones who weren’t! I bumped into Stewart Lee (Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle) with his family and tried to give him a flier (before I realised it was him) and he said “Oh, we saw that on Thursday, we really enjoyed it” … I chatted to the children who both decided that their favourite bit was the Dragon … so …

Batty Dragon Picture 1

… here he is … for those of you who haven’t seen the show yet … what are you waiting for.

I am now going to hobble over to the counter and buy myself a coffee as no-one else has offered.

Look out for Edinburgh Diary Number 3 … later in the week.

Edinburgh Diary Number 1

Well, here we are then … we arrived in Edinburgh on Sunday (July 27th) and found our digs. They are not quite as salubrious as they looked in the photos but hey – ho!

Edinburgh digs

This is my room … well, half a room to be honest, I can’t get into one half of it without crawling! I’m quite good at crawling but even so. Anyway enough moaning! We wandered down to George Square Gardens to meet up with the Assembly crew … who are all lovely, helpful and unbelievably professional! Exactly what we expected but it is still quite nice when they are as good as you thought they were going to be. We had a look at the space, we met the admin team … well, some of them, who again are all fab and professional. We then went for food and a beer … there might be a lot of this in the Edinburgh Diary!

Tech day.

We didn’t tech till 7 pm so the first part of the day consisted of “moving the van” (there will also be a lot of this in the diary too; parking where we “live” is rubbish), sending hundreds of e mails, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Then running to the newsagents to buy the Guardian as we knew we had an article in there. I don’t know if you’ve seen it but it is an amazing article … double page spread in G2 and a line above the masthead on the front page … Noggin Rides Again! Woohoo!

Here is the link to our article in the G2 Monday July 28th

Then, of course, we had our Kickstarter campaign to work on … gosh what busy boys we were. I sat at the computer until I could sit at the computer no more! And … many of you probably already know … we reached our target … Tony and my self had found a public house to have food and a beer (so soon, so soon) and as we chatted I had one eye on Kickstarter and was constantly e mailing, Twittering, Facebooking, etc … then … at about 10.30 pm … we made it … we made it. Some wonderful and generous people helped to raise £4,000 to make this Edinburgh Adventure work without us being sent to the workhouse!


This is a picture of the workhouse that we are not being sent to! Phew! And thank you to all of you theatre angels!

Tuesday was a day of repairs and flyering and  sorting out problems and banging my head on the skylight in my half a room … “Crikey,” I said, “that was rather painful!” … or something like that. Nick arrived from his sojourn in Kansas … doing his one man show at a festival and we talked him through the space, the problems and he, being jet-lagged, sort of ignored us … which I thought was fair enough! I also had a bit of me-time … I went for a walk … the castle, the royal mile, the National Gallery,  and then home to eat at home … no Public House, I hear you shout … indeed … no public house … we ate at home!

Thursday … the first preview. Arrived at George Square in the rain, flyered everyone who was daft enough to be out in it and got ourselves ready to do the mad dash. We basically have about 15 minutes to get the whole show up and running; that is everything … the set up, the props set, costumes on, projectors plugged in and set up and actors ready to start! We did it with almost 7 seconds to spare! We had a lovely audience … almost half full, which was great for the first preview! The show went really well though there were a couple of technical problems … like not being able to find a puppet amongst all the bits of props and set that we had piled round the back during the show … it was fine, Ronf just came on a few seconds late. So, all in all a very successful first go.

Friday (today) … we had slightly more time to set up and tech a few of the little problems that occurred during the first show. The audience arrived and were really nice; about the same size as yesterdays … in number not stature … and there were no major problems, although Groliffe the ice dragon had a mouth moment. Tony has been to the dragon stores and bought more dragon glue and he is, as I sit and write this behind the theatre whilst one show comes down and another sets up, repairing poor old Groliffe.

Bosco Theatre George Square

Yes, it is a tent … well, sort of; it is an old Dutch tent from early twentieth century that was designed, made and toured in by a Dutch Circus family. It has a wooden floor, with raked seating, wooden walls, a canvas roof and more technology stuffed into it than you could shake a stick at (hanging from the ceilings, the walls and piled in corners everywhere). Behind the tent … I’ll put some photos up another time … there are a series of sheds, quite big sheds, that are dressing rooms (2), a tech shed (which seems to have lots of black things piled up with flashing lights on them and about a million cables that snake around all over the place), a biggish shed for all of the companies to store their electrical equipment and other stuff that wouldn’t work as well if it got wet or had been stolen (Groliffe lives in there). And there is a green room … er … green “space” that is sort of covered with canvas, tarpaulins and Fosters Lager umbrellas! Perfect.

I am now going to go flying again … we have to get as many bums on seats as we can … so, here I go. See you later!