Ed Fringe: A Story of Venues

Welcome back to our ongoing blog as we count down the weeks to Love/Hate Actually’s Edinburgh debut!

I’m Amy Currie, the show’s co-writer and co-performer, and I’m proud to be on the side of love. Unlike my sour-faced, bitter-souled friend Natalie, I adore the movie Love Actually and all that it represents (you know, stuff like love and happiness and Christmas and generally not being an awful person).

I’ve been bravely arguing my (objectively correct) point of view since our debut back in late 2017, and I’m delighted to report that most people seem to agree with me. I tend to win the extremely democratic vote that we hold at the end of every show, which leads me to believe that there may yet be some hope for humanity. Love has triumphed in almost every venue we’ve played – and in the year and a half we’ve spent touring the show, we’ve been lucky enough to perform in some truly incredible spaces.

Love/Hate Actually made its debut at Brisbane Powerhouse’s Turbine Studio as part of the 2017 Wonderland Festival. We love Brisbane Powerhouse dearly, and have performed there countless times over the years – so it was only natural it would be the show’s first home. It’s where we first nervously stood in the wings hoping the audience would enjoy what we’d created, and where we first realised that it might, in fact, be pretty damn good. We would eventually return to Wonderland Festival for a sold out return season just in time for Christmas 2018.

Onstage at the Turbine Studio.

Onstage at the Turbine Studio.

While the show is a Queenslander at heart, it could probably argue for honorary West Australian citizenship. We’ve performed at Perth FRINGE WORLD (the world’s third largest festival of its kind) for the last two years now, proving once and for all that you can enjoy some Christmas magic in the middle of January if you just try hard enough. In 2018, we played Casa Mondo, a gorgeous mini spiegeltent in the Pleasure Garden hub. Not only was the venue profoundly Instagrammable, we were thrilled to receive a nomination for the festival’s Best Comedy award! In 2019, we kicked things up a notch, appearing in two beautiful heritage venues – Flour Factory and The Claremont Hotel.

Capturing the hearts of Perthicans.

Capturing the hearts of Perthicans.

While most of Australia shares my belief that Love Actually is a festive delight, there will always be a small minority of joyless cynics. Most of these cynics seem to live in Melbourne, which will probably not surprise anyone. Our season at the 2018 Melbourne Fringe Festival taught us that Victorians enjoy the dubious honour of being the most likely to agree with Natalie’s twisted worldview. Naturally, I was gracious in (rare) defeat, and consoled myself with the fact that our venue was all kinds of awesome. North Melbourne’s Lithuanian Club turns into a busy festival hub during the fringe, and we were fortunate enough to connect with some Aussie comedy greats!

Up top: it’s comedian/singer Paul McDermott! Down low: it’s comedian/radio veteran Tony Martin, with writer/editor Sarina Rowell.

Up top: it’s comedian/singer Paul McDermott! Down low: it’s comedian/radio veteran Tony Martin, with writer/editor Sarina Rowell.

While we’ve had plenty of noteworthy gigs, one stands out as particularly unique. In October 2018, we took the show overseas for the very first time for a one-off charity performance in Port Vila, Vanuatu! The town is something of a second home for Natalie, as her grandmother Pat was a beloved member of the expat community there for many decades. With Pat getting ready for a move to Brisbane to be closer to family, it was time to tick a Port Vila performance off the bucket list! For one night only, we took over Fondation Suzanne Bastien, a local art gallery. Queen Pat was the guest of honour (with the Australian High Commissioner to Vanuatu coming in a close second), and she thoroughly enjoyed the show - although she did think we were a little bit sweary.

Queen Pat with Natalie and Amy, who both sweated about 5 kilograms of water out of their bodies during this show. That’s what 28 degrees and 100% humidity will do!

Queen Pat with Natalie and Amy, who both sweated about 5 kilograms of water out of their bodies during this show. That’s what 28 degrees and 100% humidity will do!

International jaunts are always exciting, but we’ve had plenty of adventures closer to home. In Ipswich, we performed at Studio 188 (a former Baptist church that’s been transformed into a beautiful little theatre) while a thunderstorm raged outside. On the Gold Coast, we were thrilled to appear at HOTA (formerly the Gold Coast Arts Centre), and on the Sunshine Coast we lived our rock star dreams at Solbar, a music venue far cooler than either of us will ever be.

In early 2019, we played our biggest festival yet – the legendary Adelaide Fringe! We were part of the Live From Tandanya festival hub, a vibrant arts centre in the heart of the city. The festival’s sheer scale meant there was always something new to see and do, and we had a blast performing in a variety of guest spots in other shows. Our improv muscles got a workout when we competed in (and won!) Theatresports™ Clash of the Titans, a fringe staple in its 15th year. Obviously, we were extremely gracious in victory.

The crowds at Live from Tandanya.

The crowds at Live from Tandanya.

Just a few weeks after an enormous Adelaide season, we hit the road for Newcastle Fringe. This rapidly growing festival had a wonderfully personal feel, and it was great to be able to get to know the organisers and other acts. I quickly became obsessed with the eclectic décor and offbeat atmosphere of our venue, the Royal Exchange, and we were beyond delighted to win the festival’s award for Best Comedy!

With Australia (and part of the South Pacific) thoroughly conquered, we’re busily preparing for the show’s next outing. It’s going to be pretty special. Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the planet’s biggest arts festival, and while we’ve both been lucky enough to enjoy it as visitors in the past, this is our first time taking our very own show. We’ll be setting up camp in the Imagination Workshop Festival Hub all month long! This hub venue is located in the drop-dead gorgeous The Principal Hotel in Edinburgh’s New Town district, and to get a sense of just how beautiful it is, I strongly suggest you take a look at this YouTube video posted by an enthusiastic gentleman named Luxury Fred, who has both a drone AND a top hat.

In just three short weeks, we’ll be setting off on the adventure of our lives! We can’t wait to bring the show to a new venue and a new audience. If you’re in Edinburgh or know people who will be, please help us get the word out. I think they’d really enjoy seeing me soundly defeat Natalie in a whole new hemisphere.