Sherlock Holmes is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous character, but definitely not his only one. I have noticed that some of the newer renditions of Mr. Holmes show him as, at best, suffering from Asberger’s syndrome, and at worst, a monumental jerk. If you have read Conan Doyle’s books, you would know that this is not actually consistent with Sherlock’s character, but it is spot on for the (sometimes) hero of The Lost World, Professor Challenger.
Challenger, like Holmes, is a genius, but he doesn’t spend his time hanging out in London. He is an adventurer, a trail-blazer and a scientist extraordinaire (and doesn’t he know it!) who will use his intellect to thwart his academic enemies, and his fists to back up his intellect. I thoroughly enjoyed his turns of phrase and clever barbs throughout The Lost World even more than the premise of the story itself, and he was a great foil for the young and inexperienced narrator.
Like Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, Conan Doyle explores the prospect of a place that time has left behind. When Challenger’s assertions of its existence are called into question, the National Geographical Society mounts an expedition to investigate his claims that there is a plateau in South America where dinosaurs still roam the earth. And not just dinosaurs! There are all kinds of blasts from the past that have wandered to the secluded spot over the years, some of them remaining unchanged and some of them evolving along a whole new line.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. This is another one that the Mister and I read out loud together and that was a great way to experience it. The dialog between Challenger and his rival scientist, Summerlee, is fantastic, and there were many times I laughed out loud. I also know just enough biology to appreciate the rival points of view and interaction of species. I can’t wait to read the next Professor Challenger title, The Poison Belt.
Have you ever read any Professor Challenger stories? What did you think?
In all, the Mister and I saw 10 performances and went to one awesome whisky tasting during our time at Edinburgh Fringe Fest, but I couldn’t devote an entire article to each one. Some things were too short for their own post or fell short in terms of quality, and I didn’t want to devote entire posts to negative feedback. But, by putting everything on my posted itinerary it looks like I am endorsing it all, and I can’t say I’d recommend everything I saw during my week at the Fringe. So here is my final set of reviews for the rest of what I saw in the order that I saw them.
21st Century Poe: Moyamensing
I was excited for this hour-long performance that promised to explore Edgar Allan Poe’s imprisonment in the Moyamensing prison in 1849. Unfortunately, within the first 10 minutes I wished I had been one of the lucky ones who sneaked out while “Poe” was off stage. The entire tale was told at a decibel level that hurt my ears, and even though the one-man show was supposed to be told through several characters, the only thing that changed about the delivery were the hats he wore. I thought that I was going to get a piece of Poe-like story-telling, with suspense and just the right sprinkling of grotesque, but the delivery was off-putting and the story just plain gory.
City of the Dead: Haunted Graveyard Tour
There are a few different City of the Dead tours, and this one takes your group to Greyfriar’s cemetery. I love these kinds of tours and the guide was just as engaging as I’d hoped. There was just the right amount of humor to offset the truly horrific details of Edinburgh’s past and their dealings with their dead. If you like true stories of the darkest pieces of history, definitely check this one out.
Arthur Conan Doyle Experience
The Arthur Conan Doyle Center is housed in a beautiful Victorian townhouse on a lovely street. The lecture took place in the sanctuary for the Edinburgh Association of Spiritualists, though the speaker was specifically not going to be talking about spiritualism. She focused instead on the time in Conan Doyle’s life that he lived and worked in Edinburgh and focused on trying to tell the audience things they might not already know. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t know much about his life at all to start with, so the lecture felt sort of scattered and there were many times when she started a sentence with “And as you already know” and ended with “so I won’t go into that.” So if you are looking for an intro to this amazing writer’s life, I’d start somewhere else. This was clearly meant for people who already had some background knowledge.
The Center itself is worth a quick look if you are in the area. The upper levels are accessible in all of their Victorian splendor, and there is a gallery space that is lovely and bright. The Center offers yoga and other practices to enhance your mind-body connection, as well as studio space for artists. I thought there would perhaps be an exhibit or something about the man himself, but alas, there are just books in the gift shop. So don’t plan on spending more than a few minutes there if indeed you go at all for anything besides a lecture.
This was a totally different way to present the tale of Dorian Gray from the manner of Victorian Vices. In this version the actors were all in black and white, including their painted faces. They never revealed the portrait to the audience, but used a large canvas on stage that was smeared with “blood” by Dorian’s victims after their deaths or ruination. The show moved far too quickly, even the lines were delivered rapid-fire, so it ended up feeling like the Cliff’s notes version of The Picture of Dorian Gray and lasted maybe 20 minutes total. But the proceeds go to a charity so if you are in the area and have half and hour to kill it is an interesting little show.
I didn’t actually put this on my formal itinerary because it was an free, non-ticketed event and I wasn’t certain I’d make it there. The small but appreciative crowd assembled inside The Wee Pub in a wonderful little room complete with a beautiful old-timey fireplace and lights. Unfortunately, the large picture window overlooked Greenmarket Square and there was a lot of activity outside. The music of the street musicians really detracted from the tales of horror and made it difficult for the actor to build the kind of suspense that he was going for. David Crawford has a wonderful voice for telling scary stories, and I’d love to see him again in a different setting. He asked for suggestions after the show because he is planning to have some engagements in the US, so maybe you will get a chance.
I admit it, I am actually wiggling in anticipation of how awesome Steam Tour is going to be. I booked all my shows for Ed Fringe, ordered my Britrail pass and I am dreaming of all the delicious pub grub in my future.
So here’s the plan for week 1:
۞ Jekyll and Hyde
Main Theatre @ Spotlites @ The Merchants’ Hall
- Sat 9 August, 21:30
And after the performance, let’s meet up for a cocktail at the Jekyll and Hyde Pub nearby! I’ll wear my goggles so you can find me, and I’ll bring some “My Other Beep Beep is a Whoosh” airship stickers along for purchase, just one pound per awesome bumper sticker to show off your steamy side 🙂
۞ Victorian Vices – Sweeney Todd and the String of Pearls
Niddry – theSpace Above @ theSpace on Niddry St
- Mon 11 August, 18:00
۞ Victorian Vices – The Picture of Dorian Gray
Niddry – theSpace Above @ theSpace on Niddry St
- Mon 11 August, 20:00
۞ Whisky Tasting
Bennet’s Bar @ Bennets Bar
- Tue 12 August, 14:00
۞ Dolls of New Albion: A Steampunk Opera
Venue 45 @ theSpace @ Venue45
Clockwork Hart Productions
- Tue 12 August, 22:45
۞ 21st Century Poe: Moyamensing
The Vault @ Paradise in The Vault
- Wed 13 August, 17:50
۞ City of the Dead Haunted Graveyard Tour
Outside St. Giles Cathedral @ Black City of the Dead Signs
Black Hart Entertainment
- Wed 13 August, 21:00
۞ Arthur Conan Doyle Experience
The Sanctuary @ Arthur Conan Doyle Centre
Arthur Conan Doyle Centre
- Thu 14 August, 14:00 (x2)
۞ Morgan & West: Parlour Tricks
KingDome @ Pleasance Dome
Corrie McGuire for Objective Talent U
- Thu 14 August, 19:00
Upstairs @ Greenside @ Nicolson Square
The Egg Theatre Company
- Fri 15 August, 10:20
Pleasance Beyond @ Pleasance Courtyard
Action To The Word
- Fri 15 August, 21:20
Arthur Conan Doyle Experience is a talk about Edinburgh’s famous son, delivered in a magnificent example of an original Victorian town house which commemorates this great man of literature. Author of Sherlock Holmes – but what else is he famous for?
|Group||Arthur Conan Doyle Centre|
|Venue||Arthur Conan Doyle Centre |
|Date||Aug 12, 14, 19, 21, 26|
|Country of Origin||United Kingdom – Scotland|
Get more info at the Edfringe website.