News Column

G2: Edinburgh festival 2014: Shortcuts: Navigation: Got the ticket - now, where's the queue?

August 12, 2014

Mark Lawson

Theatre companies arriving at a new site have a laborious and exhausting pre-performance routine called "the get in", but, in Edinburgh, audiences have their own grim equivalent ritual.

Because of the commercial pressure on space, most venues have a quarter-hour turnaround between shows, forcing the incoming audience to wait somewhere while the stage is changed. Seeing the lines snaking out from every building and criss-crossing courtyards, an uninitiated visitor might assume sudden pressure on public conveniences caused by a catastrophic gastric epidemic. And because venues are divided into so many spaces - the Pleasance now has theatres called Above, Beyond, Beneath and most other locational prepositions - numerous queues plait and overlap, differentiated only by a small sign at the front with the name of the entertainment.

Other venues use a system pioneered by cheap airlines, in which there are two queues but the decision about which will go in first is subject to a quixotic late decision. One of the spaces at the Assembly Rooms seems to operate a figure-of-eight system of such labyrinthine complexity that the people at the back of the second line are sometimes admitted before those at the front of the first.

Clive Anderson has two shows at the fringe this year, but one phrase associated with him can be heard at every major venue: Whose line is it anyway?

Mark Lawson

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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