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Thanks for the (Fringe) memories: The Nualas

By | Published on Friday 8 August 2014

Undeniably Fringe favourites back in the day, The Nualas are back at the Festival for the first time in over a decade. Yes, it’s been that long. “The Fringe was better back then” old people will tell you, forgetting the older people who told them ten years ago how the Festival was so much better ten years before that.

The Nualas

But accurately remembering anything from Festivals so long ago is a bit of challenge. That said, The Nualas are always up for a challenge. And so, to mark their marvellous return, we asked each Nuala to dig deep into their memory banks to recall some favourite Edinburgh Festival moments from years gone by. Things that may or may not have happened like this…


ONE: The first Festival flat we stayed in, there was a ferris wheel in the living room, four dwarfs making toffee apples in the kitchen, and an electricity meter that worked by you throwing whatever loose change you had at it, whilst shouting, “bravo, bravo, hurray, amazing, more please”.

TWO: The time we were taken to the famous The Witchery restaurant by the BBC and experienced food we’ll never forget, such as Smoked Pigeon Head Shot By An English Aristocrat, Haggis Parfait With Shavings Of Battered Mars Bar, and chips. Sublime. Unfortunately the BBC sat at a different table and didn’t pay the bill.

THREE: When I discovered Steve Coogan shared my love of flyer-collecting and he ended up in our Festival flat at 4am gasping in absolute awe at my vast piles of printed matter promoting performances, most particularly my rare signed A5 of the 1950s Cambridge Footlights show ‘Come Away With Me Bobo To Eastbourne’ featuring Malcom St John-Smythe who went on to become completely unknown.


ONE: When I got hypnotised and started acting like a dog during a Festival show and ended up on stage hunkering down on all fours, barking the theme tune of ‘Hawaii Five O’ before weeing on a man’s leg. And the most humiliating thing was it happened during a production of ‘Macbeth’. I still blush to this day when I see pictures of Ian McKellan.

TWO: The day I took part in the big celebrity Joust-Off on the Royal Mile and for some reason Mervyn Stutter went ape-shit and impaled me. He said later, quote unquote, “I’m so so sorry, I was aiming for Malcom St John-Smythe and missed”.

THREE: The year I had a romantic assignation with an Scottish aristocratic punter who treated me to a top of the range sporran, a weekend of shooting rare geese and a stay in a freezing cold authentically damp, historic castle. In Glasgow. I still treasure his recipe for rare goose kedgeree.

FOUR: The same year, when I somehow got swept into the Tattoo, the top of the range sporran given to me by the aristocrat being mistaken as a license to lead some huge contingent of military instrumentalist types who were marching around loudly in a sort of, as they call it, ‘finale’. One word, ‘disaster’. Suffice it to say nine thousand people asked for their money back that night.


ONE: My first year at the Festival, when my perception of the boundaries of performance, and the profundity of the performer in the naked space that is the stage, and my sense of the meaning of live performance in an era of exponentially escalating pervasive digital infotainment, was completely exploded by witnessing the Lithuanian Monkey Wranglers in The Wee Room.

TWO: The night during the Festival when I decided to just sit in our Festival flat and watch telly rather than head out, and John Logie Baird materialised to me, in front of the screen, and said “Och aye the noo whatye doin, sittin in when there be a thousand theatres offering real offerings yonder nearby?”. Which inspired me to turn off the Festival flat telly and go to bed instead.

THREE: The year we organised a ‘photo call’ to advertise our show of us abseiling nude down Arthur’s Seat. The only photographer who showed up was an amateur stringer for the Troon Advertiser who got hit by the rockfall caused by Nuala’s bottom bashing off the cliff face, leaving him concussed. Plus Nuala got a chill in her kidneys, as well as a hurt bottom. Turns out there was a better photo call on The Royal Mile, Neil Delamere setting fire to his own head.

FOUR: The special time I spent in Edinburgh prior to Scotland finally being set free by referendum… Oh sorry, my spirit guide was just cutting in there, ignore ignore, that’s not a memory yet.

‘The Nualas in Hello Again, We’re The Nualas’ was performed at Assembly George Square at Edinburgh Festival 2014.

LINKS: www.thenualas.com 

Photo: Marc O’Sullivan