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Caroline Mabey – what's in your Edinburgh luggage?

Wednesday, August 03 2011

Gently surreal stand-up Caroline Mabey likes to work animation and bassoons into her shows. This year, there will be no bassoon. Which is handy as her show is about silence.

Mabey takes EiF through her Fringe packing ...


Caroline Mabey

The truth is I don’t know what’s in my luggage. I have got no idea. All I know is, there’s way too much of it. More than one person could possibly need or carry. It’s all absolutely essential, most of it won’t get used and I’ll have to spend a lot of money in Edinburgh on all the things I forgot.

I also bring my bicycle. That is a must. Who doesn’t love pedalling uphill on cobbles in the Edinburgh rain between gigs? It gives you a certain bedraggled maniacal hardcore chic that can make hecklers think twice before they attack. Every year I have a little ritual where I cycle to Kings Cross the night before and lock up my bike on the platform. Next day, the half-hour before the train leaves is a hellish scramble. Then a lucky stranger gets to sit next to a very sweaty me for four-and-a-half hours.

The train journey is an important stage in the build-up to Edinburgh. It’s long enough to make you feel that there really is no going back. There’s a certain relief in putting behind you the ever-present sense of excitement/pressure/doom that characterises the months of preparing your show, and replacing that with the terror of actually having to do it.

Because I work with cartoon sidekicks, I have to pack my projector, laptop, and screen. Kip the Coffeepot and Mr Skrangles tend to sleep for the whole journey and as they are two-dimensional, they can fold up quite small, so I usually get away without having to buy them tickets.

My previous shows have involved a lot of proppage. This year I’ve absolutely banned my bassoon from being in the show. Last year I ended up playing a single note on it then putting back behind the curtain for the rest of the show. A bassoon is a funny-looking thing. But it’s also a heavy-looking thing. And heavier than it looks. I had to carry it to and from the venue every single day. There is a balance you need to find, between the fun and the hassle, and a bassoon in a pannier can seriously unbalance you, mentally as well as bicycle-y.

In my show I help the audience to overcome their short-comings and exceed their wildest dreams by training them to complete a one-minute silence. It’s a very joyful experience. I wish the same could be said of packing for a month at the Edinburgh Festival.


Caroline Mabey: One Minute Silence is on at 6.15pm at Just the Tonic.

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