Break a leg (and other stage injuries)
This article is from 2018
Chris Turner sans teeth
Amusing tales of Fringe performers suffering bodily harm
Ankles, eyes, teeth and nipples: you name it and chances are a performer at the Edinburgh Fringe has damaged it. While the cobbles across the city are notorious for causing a sprain or two (particularly to the inebriated thesp or too-busy BlackBerrying PR), the stage has proved to be a danger zone which has broken (or at least severely hindered) some Fringe runs. Here are some tales of brave soldiers who are back at the festival despite having been nobbled at a previous Edinburgh
In 2012 and 2013 I did a show on top of Arthur's Seat every day of each Fringe. Carrying a PA, props, a mic stand and mic etc up there. By the end of the 2012 festival I'd lost a stone: and also all the skin on my right knee after falling on it multiple times.
Barry Ferns: Barry Loves You, Just the Tonic at The Tron, 1–26 Aug, 9pm.
During my 2017 Edinburgh run, I caught a burglar back stage riffling through equipment. As he tried to talk his way out of being there I noticed he was holding my phone in his hand at which point he made a run for it. Myself, director Sam Fitton and the venue manager chased and tackled the thief to the floor before calling the police. During the incident I injured my knee, which left me limping around the Fringe and made it difficult to be my energetic self on stage. The thief apparently made a return days later to the club with a friend and a pitbull terrier. Classy, I know …
Aaron Calvert: Declassified, Gilded Balloon at the Museum, 1–26 Aug, 6pm.
There was a moment in 50 Shades! The Musical where I, as Christian Grey, was supposed to guide our leading lady through the streets of the night, like in Phantom of the Opera. We had a platform at the back of the stage that was only a foot off of the ground, which was meant to depict our path through the city. One night, for no discernible reason, instead of elegantly crossing that platform in a simple straight line, I careened off of it diagonally, my foot slipped off the edge, and I spun and fell into the centre part of the stage. Having twisted my ankle, I gingerly stepped back up onto the back platform and tried to sell the entire move as purposeful. As I limped off stage, a particular quality of the audience's laughter informed me that my attempt to cover the moment as intentional comedy had utterly failed.
Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts Musical Parody, Assembly George Square Studios, 1–27 Aug, 5pm; Baby Wants Candy, Assembly George Square Studios, 1–26 Aug, 8pm; Thrones! The Musical Parody, Assembly George Square Theatre, 1–26 Aug, 10.30pm.
I'd been having a great run of my debut character hour (full houses, terrific reviews), then had one of those typical Edinburgh performances when utter silence greeted every single sketch. I got to the final character, got my first laugh of the day puncturing a Yakult, stupidly did it again to get another, and left a puddle on the floor that shouldn't have been there. In the choreographed fake fight that happened next, the other actor slipped on it and thundered into my standing leg, breaking it in three places and utterly powdering the ankle.
What happened next was truly surreal as I was on the floor, holding a member of the audience's knee for support, calmly explaining to the room that I had broken my leg and needed an ambulance, all in the voice of the character I was playing! Nobody moved, everyone thought it was part of the show and I had to keep pleading with the technician to bring up the house lights and get me some help. It eventually came but not without a huge amount of bewilderment. I always knew being an exceptional actor would be the death of me …
That was the Sunday, I had the operation on the Monday and was back onstage on the Thursday utterly off my cake on morphine doing two shows a day for the remaining two weeks of the festival. Alongside winning the Edinburgh Comedy Award a few years later, I would absolutely put it up there as the defining moment in my career.
Adam Riches is the Guy Who, Underbelly Cowgate, 2–26 Aug, 2.10pm; Adam Riches is Coach Coach 2; Adam Riches is the Lone Dueller, Pleasance Dome, 1–27 Aug, 9.45pm.
It was on the first Saturday of the festival in 2013 and the audience loved it. The whole set-up [recreating his time as a podium dancer at Ministry of Sound] was 'no, no I probably shouldn't, I probably shouldn't: oh well I'm going to'. And then my leg snapped and they thought it was hilarious: 'he said it would go wrong, it's gone wrong, this is brilliant'.
Marcus Brigstocke: Devil May Care, Pleasance Courtyard, 1–26 Aug, 6.30pm.
Last year I was performing with a denture in (prior to having implants for OH SO IMAGE-CONSCIOUS LA) and that fell out in my kids show. They thought it was funny so I started doing it in every kids show. I tried it in my solo show but the adults did not think it was funny.
Aaaand Now for Something Completely Improvised, Pleasance Dome, 3–27 Aug, 11.55am; Chris Turner: We're Where We Were, Pleasance Courtyard, 1–26 Aug, 9.45pm.
I cut my head a bit jumping into the roof of that tunnel that leads to the Pleasance Dome. I was trying to run up the sloped walls like I was in The Matrix or something. I then spilled TCP on the floor of the Edinburgh flat I was in which made it smell for the last week of the run.
Ian Smith: Craft, Underbelly Bristo Square, 1–26 Aug, 5.15pm.
After confusing my anti-depressants for my girlfriend's pills (the foil packaging and white capsules were similar, and the drawer a muddle), I spent an Edinburgh Festival with an increasingly buzzing head which I put down to excitement until a friend asked if anyone had any Citalopram to spare. I said 'yes', but the correct answer was 'no, and I need some myself'. Still, I didn't get pregnant that year, though I did get rather depressed after the festival: broody I suppose.
Richard Todd: We Need the Eggs, Pleasance Courtyard, 1–26 Aug, 10.45pm.
At the 2016 Fringe, I had to paint my nude self in UV reactive body-paint every night to be a skeleton in the show, and wore nipple covers in the shape of daisies before I painted over them. But after a couple of weeks of doing this (and ripping them off), the adhesive started irritating and then drawing blood when it came off. I wasn't allowed to stop wearing them and 'free the nipple' because it was a 6pm time slot. I was jealous of my male counterparts who were not required to do this. I still have faint daisy scars.
Anya Anastasia: The Executioners, Gilded Balloon Teviot, 1–26 Aug, 8pm.
At the beginning of last year's Fringe I cut my index finger on a broken beer bottle and it then became heavily infected. So much so that it went entirely green and I could see audience members staring at it during my show. I went to a doctor in Edinburgh and he said 'is it the hand you hold the microphone with?' I went 'yes'. He said 'hold it with the other hand'. It culminated in my manager popping the bruise on it backstage at the BBC tent moments before I went on stage there. He sterilised a safety pin with a lighter and then popped it and it started bleeding during my set being recorded by the BBC. If you look closely at the video you can see the panic in my eyes as I realise there's blood coming down from my finger.
Tom Lucy: Reluctant Millennial, Pleasance Courtyard, 1–26 Aug, 8.15pm.
I put my back out breakdancing during a late night gig at Edinburgh in 2008. I had the third best worm / caterpillar on the comedy circuit at the time. I endured several days of strong painkillers and slight embarrassment. I was, and still am, 20 stone and no matter how tempting it is to bust a move, I've learned my lesson.
Matt Price: Last Night a Weegie Saved My Life, Gilded Balloon Teviot, 1–26 Aug, 7pm.
In 2009 I first came to Edinburgh as a naive student as part of The Durham Revue. We got absolutely no reviewers in apart from one blog that no longer exists. I think it was called something like Bong Bong Comedy Times. It's possible I've got that wrong. Anyway, the show went awfully and I did my back in which meant I had to play every character as though they were part-paralysed. During one scene I just lay on the ground. Nobody knew I'd hurt my back and thought I'd gone insane. In the changing rooms after the show, all alone because I'd been lying on the wooden floor in an attempt to sort my back out, I got up to try and leave but my trousers fell down and I couldn't bend to sort them out. So I had to walk round the venue trying to find a staff member who could pull my trousers up. A real low point.
Stevie Martin: Vol 1, Pleasance Courtyard, 1–27 Aug, 6pm.