Updated: Sep 4, 2019
I first saw A Slightly Isolated Dog last year in Edinburgh, where their version of Don Juan took my breath away. I saw the show again in Worthing earlier this year and, well, like a fine wine they have aged deliciously. The sexiest theatre makers in the world and Kings and Queens of audience participation, hailing from New Zealand, are back this year with a different show. This time they're adapting another world famous tale, Jekyll and Hyde, and they were kind enough to answer some questions before they set off.
What’s special about the Edinburgh Fringe?
Oh my goodness where to begin? The city itself is so beautiful and exciting already, and then you put the world’s biggest Fringe Festival inside it for a whole month, it’s a magical recipe. There’s always something happening, no matter what part of the city or what time of day, you can find something to be a part of. One of my favourite things is how open everyone is to each other and to new and potentially strange experiences - everybody is really looking to make the most of their time and discover something really exciting, so there’s this boldness and curiosity that leads to great conversations and chance encounters that otherwise wouldn’t happen (maybe the booze contributes to this too, who knows). There’s also lots of really good gin.
If you could go back to your first ever Fringe would you do anything different?
I would probably just tell myself “chill out, you’re gonna be coming back”. It was so exciting to be a first-timer last year, and we were taking nothing for granted having made the trek all the way from NZ, that we all crammed as much as possible into our Fringe and didn’t want to miss anything. Not that I regret it one bit - best month ever - but maybe I could have been kinder to my energy levels and my wallet. Having said that, I don’t imagine this year will be much different and I’m absolutely thrilled about it.
What was the best advice you got as an emerging performer?
Don’t be an asshole. It doesn’t matter how good you are or how many jobs you’re getting if you finish each one and none of the people want to work with you again afterwards. Our little industry is too small, people talk, and nobody likes having to work with a dickhead.
What’s the worst gig you’ve ever done?
My first job right out of drama school was as the mascot of the Wellington Firebirds cricket team. The domestic cricket league in NZ is not particularly widely followed, so you can imagine how grim this was. I would be dressed up as what was essentially a cricket-playing Phoenix (named Pyro), trying to entertain extremely small crowds who were not the least bit interested in me in the heat of the summer sun. Kids just wanted to beat me up and drunk people just wanted to steal my head. I wish I could say I learned a lot, but mostly it was just a terrible and depressing summer.
If you weren’t in this business what would you be doing?
I’d like to think I’d be a rock star, but I think I lack the air of mystery and general coolness required. I would probably be a political reporter - although as things currently stand I’m quite glad I gave this one a miss.
What’s your best memory of the Fringe?
So many. Getting a standing ovation at our first performance of Don Juan. Seeing Pussy Riot. Drinks til 5am in the artist’s bar. Desperately holding in my uncontrollable laughter in a very earnest and dramatic show that was not supposed to be funny at all. The list goes on.
Any special food recommendations up in Edinburgh?
Definitely Dough Pizza. Oh man... also a late night chip buttie from Franco’s by Summerhall, always my go to on a walk home. Oh and lunch from Ransacked Black Oven near George Square, everything from there is good.
Is there anyone performing this year who you’re desperate to see? Who is it?
We are all super excited to be at Assembly at the same time as Eddie Izzard, he’s been an inspiration for some of our work and so to see him would be incredible (and for him to come see us, Eddie, if you’re reading this...) Otherwise I have to admit, I’m not really one for reading the programme ahead of time - I tried last year and found it deeply overwhelming - and so I’m looking forward to turning up with open ears and an open mind and following people’s recommendations wherever they may lead. There are a couple of shows from NZ that I’m excited to see actually, coz I’ve missed them every time they’ve been on at home: SuperHughman by Rutene Spooner is meant to be amazing, and I can’t wait to see Aunty by Johanna Cosgrove.
How did this current show come about?
Jekyll & Hyde is a follow-up to our first show, Don Juan. So we play the same very French and very passionate theatre company, but this time grappling with a new narrative and a new set of questions and insecurities. In Don Juan we wrestled with how we often fail at living and loving as boldly as we wish we could, and with this one we wanted to have a bash at our rage and all the ugly bits of ourselves we try (and often fail) to hide. The bit that screams profanities at cyclists when you’re stuck in traffic. The bit that stays home all weekend eating nothing but whole wheels of Camembert and bottles of Fanta. The bit that comes out at 4am in a drunken argument with the owner of a kebab shop in which you are most definitely in the wrong. It’s a cheeky and sexy celebration of how awful we can all be, even as we try desperately to be good people.
Why should people come see your show?
First of all because you will absolutely 100% have a hell of a lot of fun. The whole show is about making you feel amazing and making sure you have a great time. Five fabulous French performers will bring you into their world, flirt with you, charm you, tell you how incredible you are, and then enlist your help to tell the outrageous and naughty story of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. The story is right at home in Gothic Edinburgh, but with a sexy twist you never knew it needed. It’s a little bit spooky, a little bit saucy, very naughty and incredibly fun. What more could you want?
Jekyll and Hyde is on at Assembly George Square Gardens, Piccolo, from August 1 - 26th at 15:00
Tickets available here -