Edinburgh can be lonely without someone to talk to, or disagree with, about the shows you've seen. A new site promises to help
'With so much to see," says James Baster, of the sheer volume of shows in Edinburgh, "it can be hard to co-ordinate with friends. I've seen stuff alone, which is fine. It's always more fun with other people, though."
Baster, an old festival hand who lives in Edinburgh, has set up FestaFriend.com, a website aiming to rustle up a gig-going companion for loners. Reviewing can be a solitary business: I sometimes find myself talking to people handing out fliers. So I type in my details ? name, age, shows I want to see ? and am given a list of options. Mindful that I am not a single man, I select "conversation only" rather than "a romantic drink afterwards".
Do I want to meet up with Russ, a sketch artist who enjoys meeting new people? Or Lisa, a fringe regular who "thought it might be an adventure" to see a show with a stranger? Or Bob, a standup suggesting going to his own gig? Or Alan, a "Tintin lookalike"?
Lisa replies promptly. We're going to go to The Baby Diary, a comedy about modern parenthood. "I'll be opposite the box office, pink top, headphones, brolly," she writes ? and there she is. We manage to avoid discussing the rain, talking instead about her job at the Greater London Authority, her fringe recommendations (none, she'd just arrived), and why she'd signed up to FestaFriend (a Twitter tip-off).
Afterwards, we do actually have a drink. A fun show, we agree. "Charming," thinks Lisa. There was a joke about Genesis we both liked, and a great bit about child safety seats. Next, I had a play to see at Underbelly; she had a cabaret thing to get to. We shake hands and agree to text each other recommendations. As I walk away, someone hands me a flier for a sketch show spoofing The Bourne Identity. I no longer felt the need to chat.