Fringe hangover: Where have you been?

This article is from 2008

Adam Fraser's festival blog

That’s it. The Fringe is over. At this point, the hard-working critic, performer, theatre-goer or box office drone might wish to find a darkened room, take a moment to collect their thoughts and let the adrenalin settle, and unpick the events of the last three and a bit weeks.

But where did you see that show on the first day that you gave the third sympathy star which has haunted your every critical decision since? What was the name of the venue bar you got chucked out of for getting technicolour drunk and lecherous just because your parents weren’t supervising your intake for the first time? And where exactly did I work for the last month? My lanyard might tell me, if its sole purpose wasn’t to tell you how important I am in the business of stub-ripping, god damn it.

Fret no more, people. Here’s the List blog’s handy reminder guide to some of the top venues, with reviews and ratings:

Assembly Rooms

In many ways the heart of the Fringe, possibly because the ancillary Assembly Hall (very impressive) and Queen’s Hall (quite nice) venues form the beginnings of a From Hell-style pentagram across the city. For pentagram’s other points, see Pleasance, Underbelly, Gilded Balloon. Has a bloody annoying Supper Room, which won’t let you in if you’re three seconds late.


Handily-placed for entry from Victoria Street or the Cowgate, the latter entrance boasting an atmospheric cobbled courtyard-come-flyerer gauntlet. Highest concentration of people called things like Toby and Poppy in Edinburgh, at least until the University term starts again. Most rooms called wacky names like ‘Jelly Belly’ and ‘Belly Button’ –‘ Black Lung’ and ‘Acute Claustrophobia’ perhaps more reminiscent of atmosphere.

Gilded Balloon Teviot

Ambience of student union maintained. Proles allowed in too, for a change.

Pleasance Dome

Ambience of student union in episode of Battlestar Galactica (the 70s one) maintained. Frowned-upon sympathy star hard to resist for presence of splendid Mosque Kitchen.

Pleasance Courtyard

Nice variety of rooms, courtyard area is a definitive location of the Edinburgh Fringe. Burgers tasty and filling. Has an inventive way with a portacabin. Use of ‘Courtyard’ suffix unnecessary due to location on the actual Pleasance. Rarely-explored indoor bar area offers fairly unpleasant pub grub. NB: Reduce rating to one star if raining.

The Zoo

Almost next door to the Pleasance. Inferiority complex can be felt bleeding through the walls. Not now it’s won a Herald Angel award, though, and received deserved recognition for many fine shows.


Outdoor bar area is a stunning oasis of all that’s good about the Fringe. Curtailed size and opening hours this year should be a source of enduring shame to whoever complained last year. Quote from local resident: ‘I want to start a petition to get it open even later’. Only been in the actual Spiegeltent once, years ago, but Lauren Laverne said it’s good. We believe you, Lauren, you’re on telly.


Ambience of student union in episode of Battlestar Galactica (the new one) maintained. The best shows, one of the best bars, attitude of defiant individuality. Consider a sixth star awarded, and not for the sake of sympathy.

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