Gaby Soutar: Are you going to a show at the Edinburgh International Festival? So leave your banana at home
We were about ten minutes into the opening act of the Edinburgh International Festival, MACRO, when she stormed into the Murrayfield stadium.
Our toes were stomped, she kicked me struggling to get her denim jacket off, then loudly apologized to the waiting boyfriend.
Then she rummaged through her backpack for a banana, before loudly spitting it out, like an angry macaque.
Then, since it was an outdoor show and it was cold, there was a long search for a hoodie. It was just at the bottom of the bag.
I was so distracted that I couldn’t concentrate on the excellent National Youth Choir of Scotland and the Australian acrobatic act Gravity & Other Myths, which also appear in The Pulse at the King’s Theatre. (Go see him).
At least I had a running commentary from amateur Des Lynam next to me.
“Oh wow”, “No, no, not possible”, “They already did that – a pony ride”, “I can’t believe they just did that, can you? “.
She texted a few people, probably to tell them about the excellence of the show she wasn’t watching.
Meanwhile, her friend was taking pictures with the flash on. This is when people are doing backflip-triple-axel-inversion stuff on stage, and can be easily distracted. Have some respect, I meant, for the performers who trained for years to hang from their earlobes and bend their bodies like they were origami. And for me, who had been looking forward to this for months. Years.
I should have said something. Instead, I kept my mouth shut and fizzled silently, like wet fireworks.
In my head, I was inventing a prototype.
It would be installed in the rafters of all theaters and cinemas, before also being deployed in libraries.
There would be a sound monitor attached to a deadly laser. Whenever conversations, coughs or rustles exceeded a certain decibel, this device instantly froze the people responsible. Or maybe turning them into a powder would be more convenient, so the ushers can use a Dustbuster to clean the seats after the show.
It can be difficult to regulate comedy, as laughter is generally encouraged, but the laser could be the difference between that and heckling.
Unfortunately, this would still eliminate those who laughed at the wrong times, too loudly or in a farcical way.
I had one sitting behind me in the Assembly, while we watched comedian and drag star, Reuben Kaye, and the laser is probably too good for them.
The hatch/crocodile set is another alternative. Of course, the floor should be soundproofed so you can’t hear the screams, and reptiles are expensive pets, so it might not be financially viable in this climate but, still, just a thought .
I’m sure Creative Scotland could be persuaded. Crocodiles could also be deployed as mobile billboards, as they roamed the city, hiding in alleyways and closures along the royal mile. And they would take care of the pigeon population. Club feet would be caught like kibble.
Either way, MACRO wasn’t the only scene of audience-related annoyance.
I found that there had been a lot of talk during the performances so far. Lots of stretching of men with very wide legs too, almost to the point of hip dislocation. I’ve known a few stinky pits and one person theatrically enjoying a packet of salt and vinegar chips.
Also, the tall people sitting in front of me with sideshow bob hair that swells from the humidity in the room was a slight issue.
I forgive them though, it’s not their fault. Don’t sic the fangs on them. They are the others, with the hats and the high ponytails.
I wondered if my overt irritation was just because I’m not used to it anymore. It’s been three years since most of us were herded with an excess of other humans. I was a solo bean, and now I’m part of a cassoulet.
I think tolerance could be a learned activity. Or maybe others are out of practice and have forgotten that you’re supposed to calm down and forgo a picnic. Not that all my fellow festivalgoers misbehaved. I had some lovely Auld Lang Syne-ish moments, when we were all quietly delighted at the same time. Everyone held their breath. No one ate chips.
I’ve always been good at sitting still and keeping quiet, ever since I went to see the classic 80s movie The Dark Crystal with my grade school friends for my seventh birthday party. I had read the book a dozen times before the screening and was so excited to see the Gelflings, Fizzgig and Skeksis. I basically narrated the first quarter of the film, until a woman turned around and told me to “SHUT UP!”.
I did, and ever since. I want to thank her for her honesty. It was brutal at the time, and I cried a little. Now I sit in silence, trying not to breathe too hard, sucking on my Maltesers and only recrossing my legs every half hour.
However, I’ve never been brave enough to say anything to anyone else, even when I think their blatant banana consumption is excessive.
I passed very close several times during this Edinburgh festival.
But no, I think laser is a much simpler option. And the crocs.