Festival diary: Janey Godley is at the box office of the book festival

Janey Godley was among the first guests at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival.

But it soon became clear that the festival crowds were elsewhere for the first big event of the day.

There’s a lot to get used to at the festival this year, including the fact that attending an event in the biggest venue means queuing on Lothian Road.

I thought I was in time for Godley’s speech, which practically filled the central hall.

But I must not have been the only surprised to discover that it had already started when the last spectators in the queue were able to sit down – which never happened in good old Charlotte Square.

As well as attempting to fit up to 750 people into the central hall – many of whom are seated on balconies – the festival now has its own strict broadcast schedule to adhere to, with many of its events also being shown worldwide. .

This can all be something of a wake-up call for festival-goers used to events finally starting when members of the public can take their seats – no matter how long it takes for venue staff.

Although she candidly discussed her cancer diagnosis and treatment, there was inevitably a lot of laughter from Godley and host Ruth Wishart – especially when they tried to work out where the questions were coming from, at amid frantic pointing and waving in the vast auditorium.

She remembers the feeling of freedom she had in her youth, going on adventures on “a bicycle with one wheel bigger than the other” or “swimming in a burn with rats”.

She said, “My mom would say ‘You’re either oot or you’re in. If she had been in charge of Brexit, everything would have been settled in a week.

The traditional wisdom on the Fringe is that reviews aren’t worth the candle unless they come with four or five stars — which always seems like a shame after such an effort to get journalists and media to pass.

Exodus, the new political satire from Traverse Theatre, has previously featured in this slot and landed a four-star review from our theater reviewer Joyce McMillan.

But Uma Nada-Rajah’s play appears to be a show that has divided critics more than most in Edinburgh this month.

Director Debbie Hannah decided it was definitely a good thing to help promote her “wild and funny”.

Posting examples of star ratings so far, including a derisive one from the Daily Mail, which elicited a ‘lol’ from Hannan, she said: “Like all good punk art, we got every possible rating. “

It’s not often that I get a pitch describing a living legend I’ve never heard of.

But that was certainly the case with the missive I received from the House of Oz, the center for Australian culture at King’s Hall.

Actor and director John Bell, who this week presents a solo show reflecting on his career, has been so inextricably linked to Shakespeare’s work that he has been described as Australia’s answer to Sir Laurence Olivier or Sir Ian McKellen.

Angela C. Hale