A lone red feather flies above fringe venue 183. Behind it lies Edinburgh Castle sitting on its volcanic mass. Beside a Hackney cab stands Lola, her red feather boa blowing in the Edinburgh breeze, a cigarette holder balanced as she welcomes us to her show. For this indeed is a unique fringe experience. I’ve always loved the fringe for its diverse venues. I have been locked in a container with people emerging around me in the darkness from below crates, had dancers floating above me in a swimming pool suspended from the skies but never before have I been in a taxi lit by red fairy lights, a disco ball swirling around and ze French Lola welcoming me into her boudoir.
Some Caravan Palace (French Electro Swing) fills the air as we settle into our red seats and prepare for the show. Lola tells us she came over from France and before long we are winging through the Grassmarket as she regales us with its history of a hanging place and points out some locals waiting to be “hanged”. On the pretty Victoria Street she shows us “ze lil dog” which she keeps in her handbag. It’s time to walk it so without further ado a little red curtain is pulled over the front of the cab and Lola becomes “Geraldine”. From a French cabarettist to an Irish nun (complete with fantastic accents) we are introduced to Geraldine who found God, repented her sins and now drives us around down the Mound (to the astonished gasps of passersby!) with a few little candles adorning the dashboard. She takes us into Waverley Station where she sings a rendition of Waterloo but with the words changed to fit the setting. It is hilarious!
Then we are off again down Market Street then round the back of Waverley Station where a lovely green lit bridge gives Geraldine a stage for a bit of dancing complete with her cross! This is no ordinary nun it seems! We bump up Calton Hill, with Geraldine advising the married woman not to let her man go up there alone at night and onto, what must be my most favourite street in this city, Regent Road. A few camper vans have parked up and it’s easy to understand why. The view of Arthurs Seat, Edinburgh’s other volcanic mound looms ahead of us. Behind us lies the building once destined for the Scottish Parliament at the last time of referendum and a row of impressive town houses attracts our eyes with thoughts of “Through the Keyhole”. Geraldine heads off at this point to be replaced by Emma Lou, from deepest New Orleans complete with her southern drawl and some beads some men in that town had thrown her from a balcony, in exhange for…well use your imagination! She sings us a song then heads off for a ketamine injection. The curtain closes and in comes Morag with a brown bonnet, tartan flags hang across the inside mirrors and some cloth adorns the dashboard. Morag puts us all at ease. She loves the little baby which the couple have with them and as we look at the view over the city she sings us Caledonia! It feels right with the former Parliament behind us, the new one below us and the Robert Burns Memorial in front of us.
We drive along Princes Street, a rare privilege as we are in a taxi. As we rattle over the tram tracks the words of one of the songs come back to me ” We didn’t want the tramworks…..” After three years away from the city it remains in the same chaotic state with the trams still not commenced and vehicles rerouted in all such ways. On George Street Morag goes to tend her sheep, she had brought them down to the city but it’s time for her to go back with them to her steading. So we say goodbye to the tartan and greet Lola back her French accent and cigarette holder. It’s nice to hear her funny pronunication of “ze crap”. From here, it’s back to the start at the Grassmarket where Lola originally came to feed her habit she tells her but was disappointed when you could never even find astro turf in the area! With an “au revoir” and time for a few photos, our show is over! We laughed, sang and left a trail of red feathers in our wake in this original and fun performance.