Dir. Annie Griffin, UK, 2005, 107 mins
Cast: Amelia Bullmore, Lyndsey Marshal, Chris O’Dowd, Clive Russell
Every August over a million people converge on the Scottish capital for the single largest arts festival in the world, The Edinburgh Festival. Snuggled between the cultural hierarchy of the arts events and the military splendor of the Military Tattoo is the black sheep, the infamous Fringe, and it is here that the hopes, dreams and nightmares of many a comic performer are realised. In this world of drafty church venues, dingy stand-up clubs and beer-stained bars, actors and comedians jostle to attract audiences as names are made, careers are destroyed and hearts are broken.
When Faith Myers (Lyndsey Marshal) steps off the bus in the city she wastes no time in handing out flyers for her one woman show based on the life of Dorothy Wordsworth. Thrilled at her first taste of the Edinburgh Festival atmosphere she is deflated slightly to find that the time of her show has been changed without her knowledge. She is informed that she has been given the unpromising 9am slot by Brother Mike (Clive Russell), who runs the venue. He is doing a one man show of his own with themes that echo rather too close to his current, tormented state of mind.
Across town well-to-do Micheline (Amelia Bullmore) is renting her smart flat to an experimental theatre group from Canada. Suffering post natal depression she is attracted by the Bohemian lifestyle these actors seem to live, and finds herself falling in love from afar with the handsome yet sensitive Rick (Jonah Lotan).
Meanwhile Britain’s favourite TV comedian Sean Sullivan (Stephen Mangan) arrives as a grudging judge for the prestigious Comedy Awards. His ulterior motive is to schmooze American agent Arnold Weiss (Stuart Milligan) with a view to securing a Hollywood deal. But he’s not above a bit of extra curricular fun with any woman who catches his eye. Turning his lupine attentions to ambitious comedienne Nicky (Lucy Punch) he is not in the least bit concerned that she is in competition for the award he is judging. His long suffering PA Petra (Raquel Cassidy) has seen it all before, and uses her years of expertise to limit the damage he causes himself and others but at some cost to herself.
Another comedian prepared to go to great lengths to get shortlisted for the award is Irishman Tommy O’Dwyer (Chris O’Dowd). Along with pal Conor (Billy Carter) he bemoans the fates seemingly stacked against him, measuring his mood in empty beer glasses and stubbed out cigarettes. After nine previous visits to the festival he is desperate to win, and uses humour and charm to seduce feisty BBC Scotland radio reporter Joan Gerard (Daniela Nardini), in order to win her support on the voting panel. With a few personal issues of her own, Joan is not above a little romance with a charming and eager suitor.
With tangled loyalties, explosive secrets, laughter and tears all manner of human life is on show during the crazy, invigorating, surreal period of FESTIVAL.