Despite the promise of five ''appenings' on the poster, on arrival at Beside The Greenside, it is immediately clear that very little is 'appening there at all. Situated on a small patch of grass behind a church, Mardy Arts' artistic residency feels more like a dressed-up entrance to a car park than an artistic event. Certainly, there's nothing to really dislike about it. But nor is there much to feel anything about.
Mardy Arts aren't aiming to excite – we are greeted on arrival by the encouragement to 'come and potter and ponder'. This is, of course, fine, and could even be refreshing at a festival as frenzied as the Fringe. Yet the fact that 'come and potter and ponder' are the very words that appear on the poster feels symptomatic of a lack of creativity or spark at the event itself. Indeed, none of the 'appenings show much creative thought. The promised 'Bunt Fest' simply consists of lots of colourful bunting, the 'Hole in One' putting post was almost imperceptible since no one was playing on it, and 'The Pottering Shed', - a headliner of sorts - is just a small shed filled with items familiar from charity shops: A small, grubby disco ball, a mask, a fake fiver, a painting of a cat - all, I was earnestly informed, were genuinely from charity shops. It's nice to think that so many charities have benefited from this event. But with little to distinguish 'The Pottering Shed' from a real charity shop, I couldn't help but feel that the charities are really the only ones benefitting.
The most lively part of 'Beside the Greenside' is 'The Jamboree Tent', a modest yellow marquee next to 'The Pottering Shed' in which three or four very amicable friends of Mardy Arts drink tea. There's a very genial atmosphere in there and they really do offer you tea and biscuits, as the poster promised. But the word 'Jamboree' is as superfluous and misleading as the event as a whole is underwhelming. In fact, contrary to the sign outside 'The Pottering Shed' that reads 'Nothing is Difficult', it's a struggle to think of anything worth drawing attention to at 'Beside The Greenside'. It calls itself the Fringe's best-kept secret, but there is in fact very little to tell.